- Audiences are more likely to support an organization’s efforts to recruit sponsors if they understand the value that these corporate partnerships bring to the table;
- Businesses rely on the public sector organizations they support to speak positively about their involvement in an effort to win the minds, hearts and loyalty of these audiences;
- Internal staff need to understand the value of these partnerships as it relates to the health of the organization and what they can do to support the vision.
Therefore, an effective marketing communications plan for your sponsorship program needs to consider three target audiences:
Your Core Audience (Customers) – This is the group that most needs to be informed and supportive. You don’t want to alienate them in the process of securing sponsors and ultimately, they will have the greatest impact on the success of the sponsorship through their changed attitudes or actions. Your core objective with this audience is to communicate the value of the sponsorship(s) as it relates to their “participant experience”, so that they understand what’s possible because of that sponsorship.
In other words, the better the connection you make between your audience experience and sponsor involvement, the more likely your audience is to support those companies, which usually translates into a successful sponsorship and continued investment from the company. Therefore, a key marketing communication tactic is to communicate the direct benefit of a company’s involvement such as “through this sponsorship program, we will be able to purchase new equipment for the fitness program”.
Businesses / Potential Sponsors – You need to communicate your sponsorship opportunities to the business sector and to ensure fair and equitable access to these opportunities so that you avoid any notions of preferential treatment. Your core objective with this audience is to promote the opportunities and unique benefits of being involved with your organization. Key tactics include having a comprehensive web site that outlines the opportunities, distributing a sponsorship prospectus through business associations and using testimonials from other sponsors to build credibility for the program.
Internal Stakeholders – You need to ensure that your Board, Council members, senior managers and staff are educated about the sponsorship environment, what you are trying to achieve and how it impacts them. Your core objective with this audience is to gain widespread buy-in and support for your sponsorship activities. A key tactic is to conduct orientation sessions with various internal groups and provide information that is appropriate to each group.
While your communications plan needs to be integrated to ensure consistency, each audience will require unique positioning, messaging and specific communications channels. Most important will be developing messages that appeal to each specific audience. For example, if you were promoting a musical event, your messaging might be:
- To the Audience – “See hundreds of musical acts at the largest outdoor party of the year”
- To Business – “Connect with thousands of your customers at the largest outdoor gathering of XX of the year”
In conclusion, a structured Marketing Communications Plan will help build credibility and support for your sponsorship program, ensure that the various audiences impacted by the program buy-in to the initiative and ultimately lead to more successful sponsorships which is good for everyone.