February 28, 2012
Sponsorship plays a major role in marketing success. Few individuals in the sport industry would disagree with this statement. From a broad perspective, sponsorship agreements provide a major revenue source that many sport organizations are dependent upon when attempting to balance (and grow) their budgets. However, this financial incentive tends to be the end result from a variety of marketing benefits that are realized from a successful sponsorship program (e.g., innovative ticket packages, enhanced brand image). To realize this type of program, there are a variety of different steps that sport organizations (and programs) should consider when developing their strategic plan for sponsorship. Prior to discussing these specific steps, there is a video provided below where Jamie Kerr (Director of Corporate Sponsorships at AT&T) that discusses some of the key elements of a successful sponsorship agreement.
Essential Steps to Sponsorship Success
1. Create a unique experience: As explained by Jamie Kerr, sport is a unique platform because of the fact that it is a “passion point” for loyal fans. In essence, sponsors strive to connect with entities that consumers are extremely passionate about. With the affinity towards sport, it becomes the ideal platform for sponsors to extend their reach to groups of individuals who could potentially be interested in their product. However, for sport organizations and programs to reach their full potential, they have to strive to create a unique experience at their events to help activate sponsorships. When you create an aura surrounding your events (e.g., via creative ticket packages & unique entertainment), then their is a far greater chance that you will have the opportunity to provide value to your target sponsors.
2. Align matching target markets: When conducting a marketing plan, it is imperative to know the segments that you intend to target with your efforts. With a detailed outline of the characteristics of each of your key target markets, you give yourself the opportunity to create ticket packages that will encourage repeat consumption. More importantly, when you are strategic with your efforts, then you have a strong understanding of the types of individuals who are attending your events. In coordination with some basic market research, you can use the information on your consumers to identify sponsors with potential “matching target markets.” The ability to allow sponsors to reach a key demographic is something that makes a partnership with a sport organization/program extremely valuable.
3. Know your sponsor’s expectations: Once you have identified potential organizations with matching target markets, it is important that you spend the time to get to know the expectations of the potential sponsor. In addition to knowing the mission of the organization, it would be smart to attempt to identify exactly what the potential sponsor would like to achieve through the sponsorship. With the extensive competition in the sponsorship industry, it is essential that your approach and proposal are specifically tailored to the organization that you are targeting through your efforts.
4. Intend to activate through innovation: One of the key considerations in a successful sponsorship partnership is activation. In simple terms, activation is characterized by the strategies that a sport organization implements to make sure that the sponsor gets value from the interaction. Through creative ticket options (e.g., themed packaging featuring innovative sponsor giveaways and creative entertainment), there is a far greater chance that the sponsor will realize a strong return on investment (ROI). It is up to the sport organization/program to make sure that this occurs.
5. Strive for “Above & Beyond” ROI: Gone are the days where you can simply role out the competition and provide sponsors with tickets to attend the event. You heard Jamie Kerr say this in the video. Instead, there needs to be an active effort by the sport organization to make sure that there is a strong (ROI) for sponsoring entities. In fact, if you want an effective long-term relationship, it makes sense for sport organizations to make sure that they attempt to go above and beyond the expectations of the sponsor.
With sponsorship being such an integral part of marketing, it is extremely important for sport organizations to continue to take steps to ensure that they are building strong relationships with their sponsoring entities. To achieve this objective, sport marketers must be aware of what it is that sponsors want to achieve through their relationship with sport organizations and programs. This is something that must occur for sponsorship efforts to be effective in the future.