The Not-So-Quantifiable Elements of Sponsorship Value

The most common question I get in my sponsorship workshops and consulting practice is “how do we determine the value of our sponsorship assets?”. I wish there was an easy answer, but it’s not that black and white as there are many elements that need to be considered. For this post, I’d like to touch on some of the more subjective elements that need to be considered in the “value mix”.

Let’s start with the big picture. One definition describes value as “an amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return”. From a marketing perspective, value may be conceptualized “as the relationship between the consumer’s perceived benefits in relation to the perceived costs of receiving these benefits”.  In both of these cases, value is very much in the eyes of the beholder and your ability to satisfy someone’s needs at any particular point in time. This is why you can put any value on a sponsorship (or any other product or service for that matter) that you want, but if what you have to offer is not perceived as important to the prospect at that time, it is of little value (just think of the last time someone tried to sell you something you didn’t need). This is why presenting a customized proposal to a prospect is so important because it allows you to package benefits that are of the most value to your prospect, based on their unique interests and business objectives.

Having stated the above, we do need to establish benchmark values for our sponsorship offerings in order to have a reference point for discussions. Besides the quantitative elements such as exposures or impressions, there are several other factors that you need to consider when determining the intangible elements of your sponsorship offerings. In my experience, the three most important ongoing elements are:

  • The type of audience you reach / serve and your relationship with that audience (i.e. are you a trusted source of information?)
  • Your brand and competitive position (i.e. are you respected and have a distinct market position?)
  • Your ability to provide a sponsor an opportunity to creatively engage with your audience in a way that makes the brand a welcome part of the “audience experience”(in other words, to offer something that the prospect sees as unique or exciting).

The bottom line is that to generate the maximum value, you need to respond to the needs of potential sponsors. The simple premise here is that if you’re responding to their needs, you can command the value you expect for your sponsorship offerings. The first challenge is identifying prospects that represent the right fit for what you can realistically offer; the second is understanding the needs of your current sponsors or prospects and realizing that those needs are constantly changing, so what may be valuable one year, may not be, the next. Therefore, in order to maintain or grow your value proposition, you need to constantly adapt your offerings to ensure they are aligned with the needs of your sponsors.

I’ll be discussing these concepts in much more detail at my upcoming Designing and Selling Your Sponsorship Program Workshops in Toronto (November 16-17) and Ottawa (December 7-8). I’d welcome your comments on this post.

Later, BC

Gaining Public Acceptability for Naming Rights and Title Sponsorships

I just returned from the Strategic Sponsorship Marketing: The Canadian Summit where I presented a one-day Municipal Forum on Sponsorship to a forward-thinking group of municipal representatives as well as a session in the general conference program on Winning Over the Public on Naming Rights and Title Sponsorships. Much of the discussion from both sessions focused on leveraging naming rights and title sponsorships as well as how to increase public take-up and acceptance for these types of partnership arrangements.

The following are some key considerations for implementing a successful Naming Rights or Title Sponsorship Program.

Focus on “Fit” – A proper “fit” has to be considered one of the most essential elements for an effective Naming Rights or Title Sponsorship arrangement. In other words, if the sponsor brand has a meaningful connection to the facility, event or audience, public acceptability will be easier to gain and likely more sustainable over the long-term.  Here are some key elements to consider when identifying potential naming / title sponsorship prospects:

  • Local presence (are they a known entity?)
  • Strong connection to the community (do they have personal community ties such as a large employer, do they contribute to the financial well-being of the community?)
  • Strong connection to the facility or event (does their product fit in some way with the property and needs/interests of the audience?)
  • Well-known and trusted brand (are they respected in the community?)
  • Easy to remember (will it be a name that people can easily adopt?)

Articulating the Value Proposition – The notion behind this consideration is that people will more readily buy-into a naming / title sponsorship if they can see the value that the relationship brings to their own experience. Therefore, every effective naming / title sponsorship agreement should communicate the value  of the arrangement to:

  • the direct audience (how will participants benefit from this arrangement such as improved program content or services)
  • the community-at-large (how the community overall will benefit such as new facilities for community events, increased tourism marketing dollars, etc.)
  • the community facility or event property (how the property itself will benefit such as new equipment, value-added programs, etc.)

Positioning and Communications – The third most important element is how the partnership is positioned in the eyes of various stakeholder groups and how the value of the relationship is communicated over the term of the agreement. One news release or launch event will not do it – every naming / title sponsorship should be accompanied by a formal communications plan that builds awareness and formulates positive attitudes about the partnering arrangement. It takes at least 2-3 years for a naming / title sponsorship to take a real foothold in the community, so communications needs to be both ongoing and consistent. The first step in the communications process is positioning the arrangement as one that brings value to the property, community and direct audience.

By developing naming / title partnerships with companies that make sense with the audience, articulating the value that the partnership delivers to the audience and practicing effective communications, public take-up and acceptance will dramatically increase for these arrangements.  This will lead to long-term success for the property, the sponsor and the audience. For a copy of my presentation, visit my SlideShare channel.

Later, BC

Using Experiential Marketing to Bring Your Brand to Life

The Internet and social media have dramatically changed the way we market and communicate with our customers. While traditional media has taken a big hit as private and public sector organizations reallocate marketing dollars to online mediums, sponsorships, exhibits and other forms of experiential marketing have quietly gone about their business. Apart from the economic upheaval in 2008 when spending in almost all areas declined, these mediums have actually shown overall growth in spending. The reason is simple – experiential marketing works!

Research has shown that experiential marketing plays a major role in driving purchasing or other behavior change decisions. In one study, research shows that 52% of Canadians are influenced to purchase brands they normally wouldn’t consider because of experiential marketing. In other words, once a person has had a positive personal experience with a brand or organization, they are more likely to consider a future relationship with that brand.

Just think about your own personal experience. Would you purchase a new automobile, furniture or latest fashion without first giving it a “test drive”? Would you hire a new financial planner without first getting a feel for who they are and whether their style fits your own personality and objectives? Would you hire a new company to do work for you without getting a sense of who will be working on your project and the unique value they bring to the table? How many times have you purchased a food item because you sampled it through an in-store display? The bottom line is that despite all of the information that the Internet can deliver, we still like to “kick the tires” and deal with people or brands who we know, like and trust. And this is where experiential marketing plays a key role.

Exhibiting is one of the oldest and most successful forms of experiential marketing. A strategic exhibit marketing program can help bring brands to life by demonstrating product attributes, allowing visitors to see, hear or touch a product or brand and providing a two-way dialogue between the buyer and seller. This concept is articulated in a George P. Johnson Company White Paper on Experience Marketing where it states: “In a world where customers are besieged by thousands of selling messages every day, the audience has heard most of it all before…they want close contact with captivating new products. They want to experience the sights, the sounds and the feel of your company and everything it stands for.”

A well-activated sponsorship has the same ability to build a personality around a brand. A logo on a brochure does not sell a product, but an activation or experiential element that engages audience members in some form of positive “brand experience” can have a major impact on purchase intent.

In 1967 D.G. Treichler wrote: “We Remember: 10% of what we read, 20% of what we see, 30% of what we hear, 50% of what we see and hear and 80% by doing”. While specific percentages of this model have been challenged over the years, the fact remains that we retain more information and develop greater affinity towards a product (or organization) when we actively engage ourselves (or our customers) with that product; either by sampling, testing or actively discovering the unique attributes of the product.

So, if you want to move beyond product or program awareness to actually moving your customers along the decision-making continuum, look for ways on how you can use experiential marketing to help them develop a meaningful understanding of the value that your brand delivers to them. When you do this consistently, it will pay off in dividends!

Later,                                                                                                                                                     BC