It’s Probably Time To Re-Vamp Your Sponsorship Program

If you haven’t conducted a thorough review of your sponsorship program in the past two years, you’re probably out-of-date with a lot of trends in sponsorship and likely not in line with the current economic environment.  Here are a few key trends that will help you determine if your sponsorship program is in line with today’s reality:

Everyone thinking that “Social Media is the answer to everything” There is no doubt that social media is an extremely powerful marketing tool, but it still needs to be considered as only one part of the marketing mix. Unfortunately, many people are beginning to think that social media is the answer to all of their marketing problems. Both current sponsors and prospects need to be educated on the role of sponsorships in relation to social media and other marketing tactics as well as how all of the elements need to be integrated to achieve maximum results. Therefore, in order to effectively sell your sponsorship program, you need to be able to articulate the value that your sponsorship solution brings to the marketing mix and in particular, how it can be integrated with a company’s social media efforts.

Inclusion of Social Media in Sponsorship Benefits Packages Further to the above, most companies are looking for some level of social media engagement as part of their sponsorship packages and if you are not addressing this need, you are probably missing the mark from a value perspective.

It’s a Sponsorship “Buyer’s” Market The economic downturn has created an environment where there are significantly more organizations seeking sponsorship dollars than companies with money to spend on sponsorship marketing.  Simply stated, companies with money to spend have the “pick of the crop”, so the question you have to ask yourself is “does my sponsorship program have what it takes to be seriously considered among the hundreds of proposals that some companies receive each week”?

Shift from Interruptive Messaging to Relevant Communications The Internet has created a whole new culture where permission-based communications is becoming the norm and where intrusive messaging is no longer being accepted, often creating  a long-term, negative impact for a company. There is a growing reality that messages need to be timely and relevant to the audience’s needs in order for these messages to be well received and even welcomed.

Focus on Customer “Value-Add” Further to the above, there is a growing realization that if the customer experience is enhanced through a sponsorship, the customer will likely look more favourably on that company (and ultimately purchase their products).  As a result, sponsorship activation is becoming increasingly important as a means of demonstrating a brand’s attributes in a way that’s relevant to the audience and contributes to their overall experience.  In the new game, the audience needs to benefit from the sponsorship as much as the sponsee and  sponsor.

Shift from Generic Partnerships to Targeted Sponsorships More and more, we are seeing companies shift their sponsorship resources from generic properties and benefits to more targeted activities aimed at achieving specific corporate objectives.  As a result, many organizations are witnessing a significant drop in revenue from their traditional “strongholds”.  To counter this shift, organizations need to revamp their current benefits programs to build in more tangible marketing opportunities or build additional inventory in their other activities (i.e. events) to allow for the cross-pollination of benefits packages.

These are just a few of the issues I will be addressing in my upcoming Designing and Selling Your Sponsorship Program workshops in Toronto and Ottawa this fall. For more information, click on the Upcoming Workshops bar at the top of the page.

Later,                                                                                                                                                        BC

Sponsorship Activation – Bringing Brands to Life

One thing is certain in these challenging economic times;  an increasing number of organizations going after the same sponsorship dollars. So, what can help make your your organization or event stand out from the rest of the pack? One key strategy is to provide a wide range of activation opportunities that a company can leverage to build a lasting impression with the audience which increases brand visibility, builds loyalty and generates future sales.

As an example, our firm recently completed a sponsorship valuation for a new Aquarium which will be located in Mexico City. While conducting market research, we came across a unique attraction called “ KidZania” which is located in Monterrey, Mexico’s second largest city.  “KidZania” demonstrates unique ways to fully activate a sponsorship.

“KidZania” is a make-believe town concept in which kids play adult roles working in real-life, life like pavilions.  In all there are 50 different pavilions each sponsored by an associated brand.  Exclusive sponsors pay annual rights fees to have their brand as part of these working models for each of these pavilions. Sponsors include: retail stores, banks, hospitals, bakeries, airlines etc.

Kids (and their parents) not only learn about what each organization does, they actually participate in the make-believe business.  For example, they can become airline pilots (Mexicana Air) inside a life-like real airplane, work at the local television station as a director or actor or help operate in real operating room, pump gas at the gas station or put out fires with real water from fire hoses, or make products in the store or factory. Kids also can drive around “KidZania’s” life-like streets in mini VW cars picked up at the simulated VW dealership.

It is these types of sponsorships which demonstrate the value of the tangible advertising along with a long-term intangible value by having the brand fully activated with a target audience.  With the target audience fully participating in a “brand experience”, they will have a better understanding of the company, its products and the type of experience they are likely to receive if they continue with the relationship. This concept can be applied to almost any sponsorship environment.

Sponsors have shown that they will support unique initiatives that allow them to fully activate their brand and/or product. And increasingly, they are shying away from those traditional sponsorships that are based strictly on logo and name mentions. To be successful today, organizations need to do a better job at finding or creating those “experiential” opportunities and clearly articulating them to sponsors.  It’s these unique opportunities that will capture a sponsor’s attention and provide a point of differentiation for you in an increasing crowded and competitive market.

Later,                                                                                                                                                        BC