Yet Another Update on the Word “Sponsorship”

One of the most common questions I get asked is “is there another word for sponsorship”?  In previous postings (Anyone Know Another Word for Sponsorship?2009/05/07 and Update on Another Word for Sponsorship 2009/08/12), I’ve discussed the notion of Strategic Cooperative Marketing (SCM) as a means of articulating the essence of effective sponsorship marketing. Since my last posting on the issue, we’ve created an SCM Model that demonstrates the complexity of the sponsorship environment and the elements that must come together in order for an effective, long-lasting exchange to take place between the seller (sponsee) and the buyer (sponsor).

Increasingly we find ourselves minimizing the use of the word “sponsorship” when promoting and selling sponsorship opportunities because the word simply doesn’t get the respect it deserves.   The industry has only itself to blame for this lack of respect because most sponsor-seeking organizations have a history of offering low-value benefits and/or unrealistic expectations of the value of their property.  As a result, many prospects immediately associate the word “sponsorship” with “low value ROI” and that is not what effective sponsorship marketing is all about.

Generally, we find that we get a better response from prospects when we refer to the opportunity as a “marketing partnership” or a “cooperative marketing opportunity”. When the opportunity is positioned in these terms, it implies a more commercial exchange with tangible benefits and measurable outcomes.

The bottom line is whatever words you use to describe the “opportunity”, you need to properly position the potential exchange of money or in-kind for the purpose of marketing benefit so that the reader gets an immediate sense of the “value proposition” of being involved with your organization and property. I’ll have more to say on this issue in an upcoming post.

Later,                                                                                                                                                     BC

2 Replies to “Yet Another Update on the Word “Sponsorship””

  1. Hi: wondering if social investment is close? or social business association? it is a financial exchange with tangible benefits and measurable outcomes and what appears to be lacking is the stature of the exchange for both parties. This is why I like social entrepreneurship ( rather a mouthful) however it does begin to hint at the social benefit side and the working expectation of the capital investment.

    1. Hi Rena,
      I like “social investment” because it speaks to the bigger picture, particularly for the more cause-related types of corporate investment opportunities. However, this is quite different from commercially-driven sponsorship marketing opportunities that are aimed at ultimately building business. The other term I like for more cause-related initiatives is “community investment”. Having said this, every corporate investment opportunity (or proposal), whether it be for cause or marketing purposes should address a) impact to the company (return on investment), b) impact to your organization (what will you accomplish with their investment) and c) impact on the audience (how the audience will benefit as a result of their investment).

      According to Imagine Canada, companies usually invest for one of the following reasons:
      – Marketing Purposes – i.e. branding, introducing a product / service, etc.
      – Social Capital – i.e. building social equity
      – Share Fate Rational – a healthy community is good for our business
      – Human Resources – i.e. recruiting and retaining employees
      I think the key is to determine where your value proposition lies and how you will position the opportunity with potential sponsors. For example, even if you’re trying to recruit a foot ware company to sponsor a marathon, the objective may be to sell more running shoes, but the greater social investment opportunity is a healthier, more active community.
      The bottom line is that if you’re recruiting corporate partners for a cause-related initiative, the terms “social investment” or “community investment” could apply, but not necessarily for other sponsorship marketing initiatives. This is what makes this whole “sponsorship debate so interesting!

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