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Sponsorship both raises much needed funds for your event or festival and provides great exposure to your brand as part of your marketing mix. The key to successfully selling or buying sponsorship is to know your audience, the audience of your stakeholder and most importantly, yourself. A good sponsorship plan has considered how this activity aligns with your strategic direction, where it fits in your marketing strategy and what actions you need to take to achieve your objective. The biggest mistake both buyers and sellers of sponsorship make are to buy on impulse and sell in desperation.
If an organisation has done their homework and sent you a company specific sponsorship proposal you need to remember that this still just like any other deal, they provided an offer and you need to make it work for you. Sponsorship dollars are not just about the amount of money or in-kind services you decide to provide to the sponsored organisation, you need to consider all the costs associated with entering into this agreement, just like any other partnership. And if you’re trying to get people to sponsor your activities, it’s also a good idea to help your sponsor visualise how they would get the best value out of partnering with you.
Making sure everyone benefits from the partnership, understand their role in creating value in the partnership and growing an opportunity that exceeds everyone’s expectations enhances marketing activities and grows the brand on both sides of the transaction.
If you have sponsored an activity or partnered with a sporting event and received great hospitality benefits as a result, don’t let this go to waste because there’s no time to manage the invitations, organise the catering or just throw anyone in there to have fun because you don’t have time. A well planned strategy associated with hospitality benefits provides a great opportunity to engage with your clients, motivate your staff or give yourself and your family that much needed break. Again, it comes down to purpose, and articulating a purpose for hospitality benefits delivers measurable results that will inform whether the investment is worth the return.
Without a doubt the most common benefit offered with regard to sponsorship are hospitality benefits such as free tickets, a corporate box or attendance to a special VIP function. If you’re trying to encourage companies to sponsor your activity, think carefully about what hospitality “benefits” really matter to them. Are they easy to manage, do they consider all demographics, can they bring their families or partners, or can they share them with their clients? Asking your sponsor what they need is a great way to make sure hospitality benefits really are a benefit and not just another action list your sponsor has to manage.
Activating a sponsorship is the key to any successful partnership. If everyone in the partnership remembers that they are providing a service, a great level of success is achieved. For the sponsored organisation, ignoring your sponsor once they’ve handed over the cash is the fastest way to make sure they don’t come back again next time. And for the sponsor, assuming your sponsored organisation only has you to look after and will provide dedicated personal service will only result in your disappointment, a low return on investment will be experienced and you will be reluctant to undertake this activity again.
Entering into a sponsorship agreement is the same as entering into any service type agreement, the transaction is simply the beginning.
Many people I come across say that sponsorship doesn’t give them a return on their investment. But when I ask how they’ve measured that outcome, they haven’t. If you incorporate a measurement framework from the evaluation stage of your sponsorship program, just like any other marketing activity you will know what worked, what didn’t and what do to better next time. And this goes for both buyers and sellers of sponsorship.
Know what your objectives are, set targets to reach that are measurable and specific, and evaluate whether these targets were met and to what expectation. If you don’t know what you were aiming for, you will not know if you got there.
Evaluating whether a sponsorship arrangement will benefit your organisation, it is necessary to firstly evaluate the opportunity against your strategic direction. Having considered that the proposal or potential sponsor does meet the objectives of your strategy, it is necessary to build the evaluation framework that proves or disproves that the partnership was of value. Assuming all your ducks are lined up and you agree to the partnership, set up your measurement framework, constructed your activation plan and PARTICIPATED in the transaction, the critical element to ensuring a successful partnership is to evaluate the outcomes and provide feedback and recommendations.
The key to great partnerships is what happens after you’ve crossed the finish line. You’ve trained hard, you’re ready to race, the gun has gone off and you’re running down the track, and winning! You cross the finish line and you come first, the hard work is over and you have succeeded. This is the process many people in this field take, but those that perform like top athletes, those that go over their performance and evaluate what they did right and what they can improve on, are the ones that will come back and win next time. They know what they’re measuring against, they implement a plan and then evaluate how to be better next time.