Building a Winning Sponsorship Strategy
It’s Hard, But It’s Worth It
Some properties view sponsorship as a panacea to revenue growth. Create sponsorship opportunities, and willing buyers will line up with their checkbooks.
Similarly, some sponsors think sponsorship is like the famous Ronco Rotisserie Oven: “You set it, and forget it.” Once the sponsorship agreement is done, wait around for the results.
Neither of these is true.
Sponsorship is hard. Even simple sponsorships have numerous moving pieces requiring coordination and skill. However, it can achieve excellent results if a partnership begins with a sponsorship strategy. We look at sponsorship strategy as a five-step process:
Set Your Objectives
Sponsorship will address many marketing challenges. It can improve brand awareness, increase consumer consideration of a product, or develop sales leads. Going into a new partnership, the sponsor should set the objectives it desires the sponsorship to achieve.
Agree on How to Measure Them
If you have metrics that show progress, you can be sure that sponsorship is effective for you. The sponsor and property should agree on key performance indicators (KPIs) before the sponsorship begins. In addition to identifying the KPIs, sponsors may consider “socializing” these metrics with key internal stakeholders, like the CEO, CFO, or others who observe the sponsorship. When securing high-profile sponsorships and taking the time to establish agreement on metrics, budget meetings can be made smoother and more efficient in the future.
Plan a Creative Way to Leverage the Sponsorship
Sponsorship results happen through the activation of the partnership. Activation, or “leverage,” can take many forms, including advertising, social media, experiential marketing, or celebrity endorsement. Creativity is a must to cut through the clutter with competing sponsor messages. Creative sponsorships win every time in the sponsorship category or in the activation process. For example, P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign from the 2012 London Olympics. Was P&G an Olympic sponsor or the sponsor of all mother-athlete relationships? We couldn’t tell, especially with all the tears in our eyes from this ultra-creative activation.
Integrate All Your Marketing Tools
To achieve successful sponsorship, it’s best to implement a strategy as an integrated marketing campaign. Rather than having separate approaches, the different marketing tools should work together to maximize effectiveness. This may be challenging in larger organizations where various teams like social media or advertising aren’t under the sponsorship manager’s supervision. Nevertheless, one cohesive strategy will always outperform multiple uncoordinated plans.
Report on Results of Your Winning Sponsorship Strategy
It is advisable to promptly document sponsorship results, even if the CEO is not requesting them. Developing a successful sponsorship strategy may require multiple attempts and incremental improvements over time. Keeping sponsorship reports can serve as a foundation for enhancing the effectiveness of future sponsorships.