Tom Stipes, President of SponsorshipPRO+; expert on fulfillment reporting, and this week's guest blogger:
Congratulations to SponsorPark for bringing exciting new technology to the industry. It’s a valuable proposition being offered and we’re confident that your hard work and vision will be rewarded.
As the economic climate thaws, it will be interesting to see which best-practices products and services are deemed most valuable by the marketplace. Every year industry-specific survey results are released and the subject of fulfillment reporting takes a prominent role at the table of discussion.
Consistently there are two glaring observations: More sponsors want them done and done right… and more properties admit they fall short.
One thing all of us on the selling side know is that the consistent message from many sponsors is that post-event recap reports are the single most important element in the buyer-seller relationship; even more important than the recall or loyalty shown their own brand as a result of the buy. This doesn’t even address the notion of quality or detail contained in the report – just that they are done, at all!
Then we learn (almost unbelievably in today’s market) a large percentage of properties admit they aren’t producing them in any format - at all. By large percentage I mean nearly half of those surveyed, a shocking number to me. And I always wonder, “How do they expect to renew the deal if the buyer can’t review what they received?”
The simple answer may be that the best (in any industry) always earn that distinction based on their actions. But today’s sponsorship buyer is begging for better service in this area. That means resisting the notion to put together a big binder or another deck with some photos and a few bullet points.
Now let’s talk about the reality of actually changing the way you manage the sponsorship recap reports process. The question some may be wondering: “How do I do more, how do I show more given the constraints of time plus the lack of budget and personnel?”
While not meant as anything more than a few good ideas in a small space, following are some things that change-oriented property senior management can do:
1 – Compete. Be open to new ways of doing business – your competitors are. This may mean considering even drastically different strategies that will involve an initial cost of time and cash, but that will pay off with far better reporting. At the end of the day, what’s more important than the stabilization of your relationship with the decision-maker at every single sponsor on your roster? Think of it as “Relationship ROI”.
2 – Learn; one example is IEG’s excellent, recurring Webinar on this topic. The handout materials are both thorough and filled with tangible ideas for elevating your organization’s plan. Look at www.sponsorship.com for their Webinar and other offerings.
3 – Search. Look for tools, technical solutions or applications that can help your group enter the digital age. While our SponsorshipPRO+ is the only software built just for this purpose, there are other products to help build the overall story as well. We love the use of Windows Movie Maker, screen grab tools like HyperSnap and media compression tools like Encoder – all help you share more of the critical multimedia files available to tell a better story and compliment perfectly the use of SP+.
4 – Expand. Work all year – not just in the weeks after the event. By cobbling away the contractual benefits for the sponsor as they occur (think about the advance-of-event PR that happens organically – grab it and store it digitally so it’s there when you need it) you can reduce the post-event hysteria when deadlines are nearing.
5 – Share. If you’re a multi-event organization, use mid-term reports. If you follow step 4 you’ll be gaining on step 5 since the content will already be in place. This strategy helps what we call ‘transition survival”. Imagine that your main contact leaves a few months before your event or your season’s end. Their replacement will have a better chance of elevating your event to the top-of-mind if they get a report more than just once a year. Increase your value simply by increasing your visibility.
6 – Listen. Talk to your sponsor to find out what they want: It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. Some will want more, some less in terms of detail. But that you asked, that you engaged them in a specific call to get their opinion will help at renewal time.
7 – Accentuate. Focus particularly on over-delivery. They ask for more benefits in some cases and when you deliver, make sure you drive that point home in the recap. And do it as creatively as possible.
8 – Enumerate. Metrics can be scary to some but jump in and embrace the numbers. Impressions still count with many sponsors. Specific media metrics aren’t hard and are available. Activation efforts can be more easily tracked with sales or in-market penetration than some items such as PR. But with a little extra effort, mileage can be gained by attaching a value to as many benefits as you can. IEG pioneered the concept of authentic valuation and offer terrific tools, but they have company now. Look around and find out what it truly costs to support your property’s offer and its deliverable measurement of worth.
9 – Motivate. Be upbeat with your staff – the rising tide lifts all boats and if you make them look better through employing a new strategy or tool then everyone wins.
10 – Modernize. A $250 video cam and an intern can turn your property into a video-sharing property in no time. The YouTube, grainy video look is in and, while not as polished as a professionally-produced spot, collecting and sharing lots of brand and fan interaction from your event can be invaluable in the post-event meetings. The tools are there, they’re affordable and many sponsors are expecting to see more audio and video from you next time around.
Summary: Post-event fulfillment reports are often discussed at conferences these days but often forgotten until the last moment of need. And the days of producing heavy, environmentally-challenging, one-dimensional binders are largely over in terms of establishing value with your sponsors. They simply want more from you now.
While we’ll be happy to share more as to why we believe so strongly in the affordable, digital advantage of www.SponsorshipPRO.com , our basic hope is that no property gets shown the door simply because they did nothing or didn’t know what to do. There’s much work to be done…let’s get started.