My Takeaways from Sponsorship Toronto

Congratulations to Mark Sabourin at The Sponsorship Report for putting on another great conference last week in Toronto. I think the move to create a “Sponsorship Week” that included the two-day conference, plus the Sponsorship Boot Camp and 3rd Annual Municipal Forum on Sponsorship is a tremendous step in meeting the diversified needs of the Canadian sponsorship sector.

As the Presenter of the Boot Camp and Municipal Forum, I was especially pleased with the level of representation from across Canada (and a few from the US) for both of these workshops. It’s pretty obvious that many sponsorship seekers share similar challenges no matter where you’re from and the sector you work in. It was also encouraging to see that the sponsorship sector is maturing and that there is some innovative thinking going on as sponsor seekers take a more thoughtful and strategic approach towards working with private sector companies.

While it’s fresh in my mind, here are a few takeaways from the 2013 Sponsorship Week event that might help you in your work:

The era of customization is here. Generic gold, silver, bronze packages are out. The organizations most successful at sponsorship are those who take a personalized approach with each company to ensure that benefits offered actually respond to specific marketing, communications or community investment objectives.

A sponsorship without activation is like having a meal in a restaurant without a main course – a lot of “fluff” without anything substantial. Activation is how companies get to put a personal stamp on the sponsorship by engaging with customers in ways that visibly demonstrate brand attributes and add value to the customer experience.

The biggest impediments impacting the success of most sponsorship programs are usually organizational. Most problems related to implementing effective sponsorship programs have to do with lack of internal support, unrealistic expectations and working within policies that don’t support a revenue-driven mandate. For organizations that are successful in creating a sponsorship-driven culture, a key strategy for getting internal buy-in is education.

The strategic packaging of multiple properties into one integrated plan is a major challenge for sponsor seekers. For large organizations with multiple properties (i.e. municipalities) or regional operations (i.e. national non-profits), the challenge of integrating multiple sponsorship opportunities into one cohesive program is a major source of frustration. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for this challenge because every organization is unique and needs to be assessed for their own customized solution. This is an area where professionals can assist in the identification and valuation of assets, as well as the packaging and branding of these opportunities.

The really great sponsorship arrangements just make good sense.  The sponsorships that set the bar the highest are those that have a strong audience and value alignment, have a meaningful level of sponsor-audience engagement and ultimately offer value to the property, the sponsor and the customer. And there is usually a creative element that adds to the uniqueness of the partnership. These sponsorships are the ones that make you say “I wish I would have thought of that”. More organizations need to ask themselves if are delivering sponsorship agreements that set the bar high or lower it.

Once again, congrats to The Sponsorship Report for a job well done! Mark your calendar now for next year’s event that will take place November 3-6, 2014 at the Grand Hotel and Suites, Toronto.

Later, BC

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