By Chris Myers
Another week has passed in the infamous 2020. You will blink and it will be Q4. For a large number of brands who utilize sponsorship as one of their primary marketing strategies, that is budget time.
Q4 is also the time to figure out what has been working and what has not. It is time to take the chaos that has been 2020 and take a deep look at what sponsorships have remained effective, which ones have not, and what are you missing in your portfolio.
In this blog, we will run through the questions you should be asking yourself while evaluating the current sponsorship portfolio as we all impatiently wait for the start of 2021.
What did 2020 do to your current portfolio?s
These feels like an obvious question to ask, but there are a lot of sub-layers to it. This isn’t a question of whether our events or activations were cancelled. It is a question about how were your sponsorships able to transform and survive, or did they not? There is no doubt that every brand’s sponsorship KPI’s are not where they want them to be. But, how bad were they? Your on-site lead generation numbers probably dipped but did your digital numbers go up? If you joined the digital revolution (link) and your numbers went up, did you still meet your end goals of greater awareness or more sales? If so, you may have stumbled into a whole new way to look at your sponsorship assets moving forward. You may want to trade your title sponsorship for associate level position and reap new rewards or switch-out on-site benefits for even more digital. After a rough year, evaluating all your KPI’s for any positive trends is important.
How did your partners overcome challenges?
Events were postponed and cancelled. I do not think I can echo this enough. This year has been anything but perfect. However, which one of your sponsored properties stepped up and found new benefits for you?. This action proves they are the kind of partner that you want to keep around. When evaluating your portfolio, you want to not only look at the fit of the partner but the effort they put in this year to keep you happy. We like to talk about treating your sponsorships like personal relationships (link), if your significant other abandoned you during quarantine would you just go back to them like nothing ever happened? Or at very least if you did go back, would you write an 8-page front back side letter with your demands for improvement like Rachel did to Ross (link) when they were “on a break”
Why are you doing this sponsorship?
Now more than ever, marketing budgets are being slashed. This puts sponsorship expenditures right in the crosshairs of most CFO’s. So, since we all have a little more time on our hands with little to no in-person activations taking place, we should use that time to evaluate our sponsorship portfolio for fit (link). Start with looking at your whole sponsorship portfolio and run through each sponsorship with just an eye test and ask yourself why we do these sponsorships, what is the goal. If you ever say, “I am not sure” or “I don’t know”, then those sponsorships need to be immediately looked at. As for the others, take a look at our categories of fit. (link) Your current portfolio should be littered with sponsorships that fit. Maybe you spend 90% of sponsorships attracting millennials but then have 1-2 random boomer targeted sponsorships. You need to ask are these two moving the needle or are they just legacy sponsorships that no one has had the heart to cancel. 2020 is the time to lean up and tighten up your portfolio.
There is no doubt that for everyone in the sponsorship industry we are in for a very tough budget season. There are so many questions we need to ask, beyond the easy one of will our events even take place in 2021. There are strong internal questions that can lead you down a path of reinventing your sponsorship portfolio from assets to entitlements.
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