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The Next Level at SponsorPark

by Emily Taylor
29 02 2012

We’ve got some exciting stuff going on over here. I’m honestly bursting at the seams to tell you all about it too.  The last several months our team has been meeting about how we can take SponsorPark to the next level.  We’re asking questions like, what do our customer’s want?   How can we add value to the experience of sponsorship opportunity reps and sponsors?  How can we get more measurable and effective with our reporting?  What does the next level of service and value look like?  Well, we’ve been answering those questions, developing the site to reflect those items, and in a matter of days, you’re about to see some added value to your experience with us.

One big piece to this next level is SponsorPark’s merger with Pinpoint; a sponsorship marketing evaluation firm founded by David Rachell.  Pinpoint has a real strength of service with sponsors, and with this merger sponsors will have an even more effective method of evaluating the most appropriate sponsorship opportunities based on their goals and objectives; and the sponsorship opportunities listed on SponsorPark are going to have even more sponsors seriously evaluating their proposals.  With the merger we will have new talent communicating with our members, and we’re hiring for additional positions.  So we’re ready to work even harder for our clients.

And there’s more.

We’re swimming in ideas for site improvements, and some of those ideas we’re not quite ready to talk about, but for starters, here’s a handful of changes you’re going to see very soon:

  • A total site proposal clean up.  Long story short is that there are quite a few proposals that reflect a time period that has come and gone.  We’re ready to declutter.  We’re going to make sure that we give all clients a heads up when their proposal is about to expire, and give the opportunity to make the necessary edits to reflect a current listing.  But no matter what, if you see a proposal on SponsorPark, it will be current; making SponsorPark an even more valuable and relevant place for sponsors to check you out.
  • Proposal reviews: not only do we want to give clients an easier way to review how many reviews their proposal has seen, but we want to make sure those reviews are more trackable. We also want to protect our client’s privacy, so that not just anyone visiting the SponsorPark website can take a look at your proposal.  We’re rolling out some enhancements that will meet all of those needs – stay tuned!
  • A more diverse blog perspective: you’ve heard a lot from me and from Stephanie.  While the blog has been highlighted from various other experts as a go-to sponsorship best practice must read; we want to make it even better.  We believe the best way to do that is to hear from other professionals with other areas of expertise within the industry.  So we’ll be posting some blogs with varying authors to improve a diverse perspective.

Our commitment and deep desire is to grow into a place where we’re a leading resource in the industry.  We’re taking big steps to make sure we’re moving into the next level.  It has only been a short few years since March of 2009 when we first launched into our beta test, and we’ve consistently grown leaps and bounds.  We’re ready to plunge forward and become and even more efficient solution for your sponsorship needs.  Needless to say, we’re excited.

Categories:   General | industry happenings | Introductions
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The Perfect Purebred Partner: Pedigree vs. Purina

by Emily Taylor
15 02 2012

I’m a HUGE dog fan.  In fact, I’m currently sitting on my couch with my computer and my beautiful Weimaraner dog. Though 75 lbs of beautiful grey fur, it’s not completely clear which has won the luxury of being in my lap… So when I heard about the sad split of the Westminster and Pedigree, I had to dig deeper.  After 24 years of a solid partnership, they have “broken up.”  That kind of partnership duration feels a bit more like a divorce than a cordial separation, and I can’t help but see Purina as the “younger woman.” 

Even I have to admit though, that there are some good reasons this was a smart move for Westminster.  For one thing, they are clearly highlighting purebred dogs – sort of the “red carpet dogs,” vs. the everyday house pet.  What a perfect play on the target to have Purina step in as the perfect purebred partner.  Pedigree has, through several efforts, defined themselves as a product for all dogs.  For the mutt or the shelter dog; the every-day dog.  This newly distinguished difference in focus makes it clear that the two were going their own separate ways, and perhaps they were not complementing one another’s focus any longer; or maybe just not as well as another partner might do.  Just a guess. And speaking of shelter dogs, Pedigree has had ads out focusing on the topic of adoption, which pulls at your heartstrings over very sad situations.  To animal lovers anywhere, it’s heart wrenching, and apparently Westminster’s primary audiences were tempted to change the channel when they came on, according to an article by Ad Age.  Now, whether or not turning away from a problem that causes you to ache and pretending it’s not there is a good thing or not; ultimately business is business, and Westminster needs to do what it takes to keep their target audience interested in staying tuned and not going anywhere.  I’m also always toting up longevity in sponsorship relationships, especially cause related, but after 24 years, it’s quite possible they maxed out any of the long term benefits of the partnership.  Perhaps fresh and new was what they needed. And who knows, maybe Purina had some ideas and dollars up their sleeve that Westminster couldn’t refuse… but now I’m speculating.

Here’s what’s interesting to me; the split has probably done both parties more good.  It highlights Westminster even more as the exclusive, high society, event that they are really going for; and it brings Pedigree fans running to their side.  Again, according to Ad Age, Pedigree is seeing tremendous support on social media communities for one, and I would imagine; the loyalty to the underdog has only climbed since the unfortunate break up.  It underscores their cause, and it better prepares to align them with partners who have similar visions.  Purebred is not their focus; they have not defined themselves a red carpet exclusive, so why partner with an event that does?

The applicable truth is this: there are times that we all need to take the time to answer some questions: Are you doing what is best for your partner?  Is your partner the best fit for you?  Are you doing everything in your power to support your property/brand in order for it to become the place it was made to be? What would take things to the next level?  These are all questions that we are digging into here at SponsorPark, and we have some really exciting ideas on the horizon which will be implemented sooner than later… on that note, more to come!

Categories:   industry happenings | Sponsorship Valuation | tips
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UFC's Recent Sponsorship Ban

by Emily Taylor
31 01 2012

Thanks to my husband I’m fairly well educated on the happenings of the UFC.  I used to think it was extremely violent and kind of sick that people were entertained by the barbaric beat downs; and completely confused when I saw the guys throwing punches without reservation and then hug at the end of a match.  I’m still a little flabbergasted by that last one; but I definitely better understand the sport and it’s like a physical chess match.  These guys are always thinking 3 steps ahead, and approaching their opponent with much more intelligence than the fury of a backyard brawl.  I respect the sport.  And you really have to at least acknowledge the growth and evolution of the sport – it hasn’t been that long that it was basically outlawed on television, and now it’s taking over boxing fans.  It’s popular.  And the business and marketing surrounding the sport has evolved too. 

UFC recently made a deal with FOX; which has been perceived as a great move for the sport’s fast evolving, popular demand.  I first learned about it through my husband who has been a loyal fan for years.  Even more recently, they announced a new ban than is directly tied to their new partnership with FOX.  “…absolutely no firearms, ammo, hunting or knife companies will be permitted as sponsors in any Zuffa-promoted events.”   This is a very big deal, especially since they had a standing relationship with some arms dealers – specifically The Gun Store in Vegas; who’s owner, Chris Irwin, is clearly unhappy.  I would personally have to agree that this is the best decision for the brand; however, I don’t believe this is one of those “easy,” implementations as there are people this will hurt. 

The UFC has been fighting against the perception of barbarism and unnecessary violence for a long time.  Even as an occasional spectator I wouldn’t say I’m entirely convinced it’s completely sane; and there are many people who are not so indifferent about it.  While I am sure that from a brand’s perspective, The Gun Store has found a great match to their target audience; I’m not so sure the affiliation is a win-win.  When two brands who are both fighting the same battle against perceptions of violence pair up, it’s just not the best complement.  Whether right or not, the audience who vehemently opposes the violence promoted by guns, will likely associate this same passionate perspective with the UFC.  If sponsorship is about complementary missions, and the UFC is really opposing the perspective of violence and want to be taken seriously as a sport, they’re probably hurting this effort by affiliating with a brand fighting the same (if not even more serious) battle. 

Now, I’m sure people like Chris Irwin would have some very good points to lay out about the reality behind their efforts to maintain safety, about American’s right to bear arms, and so on; but the question isn’t whether he’s right, it’s what is the perspective of their audience?  Of FOX’s audience and the UFC’s audience?  I would agree that there’s a stronger possibility that the affiliation could hurt both brands as it continues to grow internationally.  People will ban stations they feel participate or affiliate in business that is morally offensive.  Whether they agree or disagree, FOX and UFC have to consider what their target audience wants.

Here’s where I find it hard to swallow.  Most fighters who make the UFC what it is are not making much money.  They live on sponsor dollars, and we all know how competitive it is right now. I’m a big fan of George St. Pierre – he’s not hurting for cash/sponsors, but the up and coming fighters or the not-so-famous fighters are the ones who are cringing right now because they either lost a sponsor, or they’re going to compete with the other fighters who lost their sponsor for the cash that’s left.  Unless they’re on the card and showing up on air, they really can’t guarantee that a sponsor is going to get much exposure, it’s a tough sale.  And they already have to worry about exclusivity since Dana White and Zuffa already required that their fighters honor the exclusivity rights they offer to brand sponsors.  Their tough world just got a little bit tougher.  So for that reason, I offer my sympathy. 

Any other thoughts on this news?  I’m always interested to hear the perspective of other professionals – or athletes.

Categories:   industry happenings
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