Sponsorship marketing is a phenomenal tool, and when done right can be integrated across retail, advertising and promotional platforms to play a vital role in helping build a brand and drive sales.
One of the bonuses of sponsorship marketing is that it can be done on a very large macro scale – think global and national events, or it can be done on a micro-regional or community level, across sport, arts, culture, business – you name it, you can sponsor it. At either level, the decision to sponsor must be based on audience alignment, which means the sponsored properties’ audience is exactly the audience you want to get your brand in front of so you can sell your wares, simple. However, whilst this is the most important factor to consider, it is far from the only factor regardless of the level of commitment and investment.
So, before you commit to anything and start slapping your name across the sponsored property, you need to make sure you assess the sponsorship properly and ask yourself the following questions.
7 questions to ask yourself before you seal that sponsorship deal
1. What is its purpose?
Start by asking yourself, why are you sponsoring this property? Driving sales will always be the ultimate objective or goal, but why else are you looking to sponsor the local footy team, an industry awards night or a music event? Are you entering a new geographic or target market and want to build brand awareness? Is it to generate good PR and build strong brand equity? Are you launching a new product? Whatever the reason, make sure you are 100% clear on ‘the why’ around your sponsorship commitment – not only will it help you select the right property to sponsor, it will help you develop clear and measurable key performance indicators so you can assess its value to your business and return on investment.
2. Do you want to get your hands on their target audience?
This is quite simply the most important factor to consider once you have figured out why you want to use sponsorship as a promotions tool. You could throw a shed load of money sponsoring a local event or sporting club, but at the end of the day, if the audience are not in the market for your goods or services then you are wasting your time (and money).
3. Is it on brand, really?
Is there a logical and relevant link between your brand and what you are considering sponsoring? Do both your brands share the same values and principles? Or, are you sponsoring it because it’s your own personal favourite football team or music event, or worse, is someone pressuring you to do it so that you are a good community member? If there is no brand alignment between you and the sponsored property don’t do it – ever.
4. Can you afford to leverage the sponsorship?
One of the biggest mistakes businesses, big and small, make when it comes to sponsorship is thinking their level of commitment is over once they sign the contract and their logo gets chucked on some merchandise. Signing the contract is just the start of a sponsorship, and to get the real value you need to continue to invest in it. Think Olympic sponsor advertising – this isn’t included in the sponsorship fee, Olympic sponsors pay for that separately, from a marketing budget. Nothing changes at a local level where leveraging a sponsorship is still key to making it work for you. This can be as simple as running an exclusive product offer to the sponsoree’s database, or a promotion giving your consumers a chance to win tickets etc.
5. How many other sponsors are there?
How often do you walk into an event and get bombarded with a hundred sponsor messages? There are the presenting sponsors, supporting sponsors, category sponsor, bag sponsors, jersey sponsor, in-kind sponsor, product sponsor..it goes on. You find yourself playing ‘where’s my logo?’ and wondering why you bothered. Before you commit to a sponsorship find out what the long-term plans are for the property you are sponsoring, what are the minimum and maximum number of sponsors they can properly service, and what the sponsorship levels are. Understand the landscape and make your decision accordingly.
6. Are you prepared to negotiate?
Don’t just settle for the sponsorship proposal put in front of you – this is usually only the starting point. If you have done your homework you will have a good idea of what constitutes value for the property you are looking to sponsor – don’t settle for less. Understand what assets they have and what they are giving you access to, and also know what you are willing to compromise on, especially if it means you end up getting more of what you really want.
7. What are your success factors?
Sponsorship should be approached like all other forms of advertising and promotions, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a $500 or $500,000 investment. It’s important to give a sponsorship time to find its feet, therefore, make sure you set realistic objectives and goals, then put a realistic timeframe in place that will help you measure its performance. If you don’t, how do you know if it’s been worth it?
If you get through this list of questions happy with your answers, then go forth and sponsor. However, bear in mind that assessing a sponsorship is just the first step in ensuring a successful brand partnership. A sponsorship is a two-way partnership, and you will only get out of it what you put into it, so how you manage, activate and nurture the partnership is equally important.
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