There’s really no denying that sponsorship has evolved over the last several years. And there’s no denying that sponsorship has never seen tougher days. Some people ask us why we chose to launch SponsorPark the very year that the economy, and sponsorship along with it, took a nose dive and dollars were more protected than ever. Well, it definitely hasn’t been easy, but I will say that we believe that now more than ever before, properties need a leg up when it comes to being seen and heard by sponsors, and not only that, but the quality of information being communicated needs to be relevant and helpful to proactively determine smart fits. So, that’s why we launched into beta in 2009, to do just those things for the people in the sponsorship community. But even our core team will be the first to tell you that SponsorPark is not the end all be all for sponsorship… at least not yet! There are some serious items you need to consider for what happens after connections are made, and what you do with partners once they’ve been established, and we want to support the education of those efforts too. One thing we really like to highlight is sponsorship best practices. We have a wide range of clients who use our tool – some have been in sponsorship for years and are quite experienced, others for just a short time, and still others have never had to think of sponsorship before – maybe a not for profit who used to rely on donations for example. We want to make learning about how to progress in your sponsorship efforts as easy as following our blog, and we’re even pointing to other great resources; because we all win when we learn and grow.
So back to our point that sponsorship has evolved. There used to be a day when things were “swell!” and Andy Griffith might have been playing on your black and white tv – and you would have been considered advanced in your technological display being the savvy consumer you were. Now, if you have a black and white boxy television you’re not considered so advanced or trendy… with sponsorship, there are some behaviors that are now considered outdated and ineffective that you must stay ahead of if you want to stay competitive in the valuable leveragability of your partnership offering. Here’s a few examples:
“Place your logo here!” If all you can offer is a sponsor’s logo up in a place visible to your target audience, you’re practicing outdated sponsorship. While a logo representation can be the cherry on top of the package, it cannot BE the packaged deal. In fact, there are some brands that are finding that the younger generations are responding favorably to less brand visibility, saying that the glamorization of brands is a turn off. Actions speak louder than words, and the consumers demand interaction in order to get past their callous response to another logo in their face; in fact if a sponsor is just another logo in the clutter of brands, they won’t likely even be remembered. If your partnership activation efforts do not allow for a creative and unique interactive leveraging component, you’re not likely to be nearly so memorable, effective to the consumer, or popular with the sponsor. Most sponsors won’t throw dollars at signage with their logo on it anymore, don’t be foolish enough to make that your big push.
We have the same target audience!! Do not mistake this one – it is entirely necessary that you get your sponsor in front of their target audience. If you ask a sponsor to partner with you without this key element of your offering, you can expect to get laughed out of their office – as we mentioned in a previous blog; “birds of a feather flock together.” But what has evolved is that you can’t stop there. Just because they’re in front of their audience doesn’t mean it’s a memorable or even favorable impression. We’ve likely all had the experience of going to an event or participating in a program where you had no idea who the sponsor was, you just know there were sponsors… and you might have even had an experience where you have no idea what to attribute to the sponsor if you did remember them. Ineffective activation is as good as a sponsor throwing dollars away. And today’s consumer requires more out of an activation effort in order for it to be effective. Don’t forget that we live in a world that moves fast, attention span is shortening, there’s breaking new technology every day it seems like, and this same high level of interaction and high expectation for entertainment carries over in marketing.
My kid and your kid play on the same soccer team! There was a day that networking might have been the most important part of finding partners – and it’s still not a bad thing. But just because someone likes you, or your program, or you have some interesting connection does not mean that you will gain their support. There’s more accountability, and the good old boys that run the show have to be able to report to their superiors why they chose to run with your program. I can remember a time when the branch manager of one of my previous work places used to sign on our company each year as a sponsor of a local hockey team because he loved hockey and loved the VIP tickets they gave him for his support. No longer… you have to be able to prove your worth to the bottom line of a company, and prove it well in order to be truly considered. Your value, the fit, and the ability to leverage the program you offer must be clearly communicated, and while it seems like the sponsor would have the most to gain from coming up with these matches, the truth is there are so many options that it’s really best if you start to do some of this work for them.
Now, we’re just really getting started, but those are just a few considerations. What else do you see that has changed and evolved in the world of sponsorship? We love hearing from those of you in the front lines, learning and setting directions for us all!