Let’s start with a cold hard fact….Creating winning sponsorships that provide enduring benefits for both the sponsor and sponsorship seeker alike is hard work.
In my many years working as an event marketer, I have assisted organisations and businesses both in securing and leveraging major sporting sponsorships. I have seen a lot of value created through very effective sponsorships. So why do many sponsorships fail to live up to their potential?
When I started working in marketing 25 years ago sponsorships could work as one way relationships that in the main, provided brand exposure to the sponsor. But in 2014,if you’re seeking sponsorship for an event that doesn’t have a national audience, offering benefits such as brand exposure, ticketing or hospitality benefits alone normally won’t be enough to interest a sponsor. Why?
Today’s sponsors are increasingly aware that as consumers, we have become so used to the constant influx of advertising in daily our lives that we have trained ourselves to edit out all but the few marketing messages that matter to us. Having said this, it’s also the main reason why sponsorships are today, more than ever, a very important part of the marketing mix.
Events remain one of the most effective mediums for a business to make a personally relevant connection with their target audience or reinforce their brand values through their association with an event. Sophisticated sponsors know this and as a result, they have become increasingly discerning about what events they sponsor.
Businesses with the capacity to sponsor events are in my experience, very clear on the profile of their target audience and make quick assessments whether the benefits they are looking for exist in a sponsorship proposal.
So if you’re looking to generate value from sponsorship assets in today’s congested marketing environment, it’s no longer a numbers game and hasn’t been for quite a few years now.
You need to be very targeted in identifying business that would benefit from being part of your event and find new and innovative ways for that sponsor to engage their target audience. Similarly, if you believe a sponsor would benefit from associating their brand with your event, you need to very quickly “join the dots” in your presentation to the sponsor explaining exactly how you will do this.
I believe the most effective sponsorship campaigns today are those that work out how to “add to” an event experience, by providing benefits that are valued by the audience to communicate their message.
A great example of a campaign that did this recently was the Motor Accident Commission MAC promoting their “Be Safe Be Seen” sponsorship of the 2014 Tour Down Under by giving away reflective “slap straps” to kids and cyclists watching the event.
If you live in Adelaide, I’m sure you’ve noticed these straps being used by cyclists on the commute home from work (and my kids loved them too!). This sponsor didn’t try and saturate the event audience and they subtly achieved some of the most effective messaging in getting their sponsorship noticed.
So if you’re a sponsorship seeker, look very closely at your event and identify the unique benefits that your event can offer….It’s not your job to “activate” their sponsorship (that’s what we do at Lumino!), but it helps to put yourself in the sponsor’s shoes.
Can you create some unique content that will add to the overall event experience that the sponsor can own? Can you offer the sponsor an exclusive entertainment or hospitality benefit that they could use within their organization or with their customers that is truly a “money can’t buy” experience? Identifying these opportunities and supporting your proposal with activation ideas will also help you identify what types of sponsors may be interested in securing those benefits as part of their overall sponsorship.
If you’re a Sponsor, put yourself in the participant’s shoes when identifying the most effective means to leverage your sponsorship. Remember, participants are at the event to enjoy the experience, not to read signage…. but they become more receptive to a sponsor’s message if you start an interaction by offering something that enhances their event experience.
So whether you’re a sponsorship seeker, or a sponsor looking to sponsor an event, here’s eight questions that might help you work out how you can go about getting the sponsor and the participant in the same paddock!
8 QUESTIONS TO ASK
- What is the profile of the event audience?
- What benefits can the sponsorship asset offer?
- What types of activation activities does the event or precinct lend itself to?
- What industry sectors are likely to be interested in those opportunities?
- What activation ideas would “add to” the event experience of attendees?
- How does the event profile align with the potential sponsors messaging
- Are any potential sponsors already engaged in other campaigns that could be integrated with the sponsorship asset?
- What reasons can we give “to sponsor our event” both internally & externally?
I know from my own experience that a lot hard work goes into securing the right sponsor and making those sponsorships work. But the odds of securing a sponsor, and the payoff to both parties increase dramatically when initial approaches are well qualified and a sponsor can immediately see’s value in the activation opportunities presented.
We trust this blog helps identify what sponsors are looking for.
About the Author:-
Kathryn is an experienced below-the-line marketing professional with a passion for events. Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Kathryn is the principal of Lumino Events www.luminoevents.com.au