Building a Team of Sport Sponsorship

In general sport sponsors take planning in order for the sponsoring organization and the entity receiving the sponsorship are satisfied with their relationship and the services involved.  A plan outlines the needs and expectations of each organization, allowing for clear communication and potentially eliminating surprises.  A plan should indicate presence in all three phases of the sponsorship relationship, before, during and after thus ensuring high levels of customer service which often lead to repeat partnerships.

When beginning the sponsorship process, the video provided seven helpful tips on how to successfully identify, procure and service sponsors as well as evaluate the efficacy of the relationship/sponsorship.  Step one is Knowing your audience.  Organizations seeking sponsors should have a strong understanding of their audience, i.e. the demographics and habits of their consumers and constituents.  Understanding this information is important for more than just sponsorships but will assist an organization in determine the route they should take when communicating to and engaging with consumers.  Germane to this discussion, knowing an audience will assist with identifying sponsors who have a natural connection simply because their consumers are similar in various ways.

Once your audience is recognized and their demographics and habits can be communicated, step two is to brainstorm what’s brandable.  What qualities does the organization have that can be turned into a branding opportunity for a potential sponsor.  For example, the SEC’s football tailgating culture includes male and female fans dressing up in team affiliated attire and colors on football Saturdays.  A partnership with Belk as the official retail department store of the SEC, provides tremendous nationwide exposure to Belk as they encourage continued growth in their current locations as well as movement into contiguous markets.

 Within the brainstorming session, the concept of “no bad ideas” should encourage the creation of a wealth of ideas.  Emphasis should be placed on uniqueness, what consumers within the demographic care about and quantifiable benefits.  Upon the conclusion of brainstorming, sponsorship teams to pare down their idea list by approaching step three – making a list of potential sponsors.  By making a list, the brainstorming list and the audience demographic information can be used to determine what kind of sponsors could be approached and what unique tactic could be used when engaging.

The slideshare video provided a few helpful ways to determine an effective sponsor list:

  1. Start with people you know
  2. Tap your event participants
  3. Identify events that are similar to yours, identify their sponsors and approach them or even their market competitors.
  4. Identify local businesses, especially those with grand openings that will appreciate extra publicity.

Upon creating the preliminary list, do some homework.  What have they sponsored in the past?  Who in the company makes the decisions and when are the budgetary decisions made?

Step five requires a deeper dive into the companies that have been identified.  Its not time to know your sponsors, their needs, what they would want, not want, how to communicate, what sponsorship benefits would intrigue them and what tactic to take.  Sponsor teams should determine if B2C or B2B approaches are best.

After research is done and the client is known and understood, sponsors should begin tailoring sponsorship opportunities to those individual clients.  Drilling down and going beyond typical signage opportunities and database sharing.  For example, ESPN partnered with Taco Bell to create a student section at the College Football Playoff national championship games.  Taco Bell provided 1,000 game tickets and access to a Zac Brown Band concert to students whose institution was participating in the CFP.  Reaching a target that is unique to Taco Bell in a unique way worked will for the corporate sponsor.

The last two steps are measurement and endorsement.  Going through the sponsorship process while successfully landing a sponsor is great but communicating to that sponsor the value of the partnership is an essential tool for retention.  Going with traditional ways to measure impressions or efficacy can lead to dissatisfied sponsors especially of those traditional measurements don’t align with the intent of the original sponsorship.  Organizations should be sure to measure the attributes and impressions that are of consequence to an organization.  Taco Bell was interested in focusing in on college students as their target market, therefore a measurement using social media analytics, a method of communication that would most likely be the preferred form by their target market, would be a natural measurement tool.

After successful sponsorship activities, organizations can use those relationships to create new relationships with other sponsors by procuring endorsements from current sponsors.  From customer service to uniqueness of opportunities to overall successful partnerships, organizations should use their sponsors positive experiences to create new opportunities.

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