Agreeing to a new sponsorship deal can feel like participating in a trust fall.
Thoughts come to mind. “Did we pay a fair price? Will we receive everything that was promised? How are we going to track the ROI? How are we going to activate?” These are all great questions. This post will provide tips to get the most out of your next partnership.
1: Plan for activation.
Activating during an event is an effective way to engage with attendees on a personal level. Make sure to account for the costs, time, and resources when planning and budgeting for the activation. You don’t want to spend your entire budget on the sponsorship investment without a way to effectively activate on the partnership. If the partnership includes multiple events, keep the activation simple to set up and execute to reduce costs and logistics. The most successful activation setups are unique, interactive, and engaging.
2: Utilize marketing rights.
Borrowing brand equity is one of the most effective ways to leverage a sponsorship. Unfortunately utilizing the sponsorship property’s marketing rights is often an afterthought. Marketing rights can increase credibility, brand equity, sales, and differentiate from the competition. Brainstorm ways to incorporate the property’s name and marks throughout your company’s marketing assets, sales collateral, products, etc. Below are a few ideas.
- Social media contests
- Drive-to-retail promotions
- Product packaging
- Sales collateral
- Integrate into current marketing campaigns
3: Make sure the proposed assets align with your objectives.
This may seem obvious, but if a sponsorship asset does not align with your company’s objectives then ask to have it either replaced or removed from the proposal. When budgets are tight, the last thing you want to do is pay for assets that won’t help achieve your objectives.
4: Make sure the property aligns with your target market and core values.
Even though a sports team, concert venue, etc. may be the hot ticket in town, make sure the property shares the same target market and core values.
5: Evaluate more than just impressions.
Understanding the number of impressions is important, but it’s only part of the picture. If impressions are the only thing you are after, I would respectfully suggest investing in television, radio, and digital advertising. When evaluating sponsorships consider how the partnership will impact your company’s goals and objectives in addition to impressions.
6: Negotiate unique experiences.
While discussing the final details of the partnership ask for a few hospitality opportunities like Zamboni rides, watching batting practice from the field, a VIP tour, meet and greets, etc. These opportunities rarely cost anything for the sponsorship property, but provides you with once in a lifetime experiences for customers, employees, contests, etc.
7: Partner with a vendor to share costs.
Brainstorm if there would be a vendor(s) that would be interested in partnering with your company to help pay for the sponsorship investment. Partnerships like these can help drive sales and branding for both your company and the vendor, while reducing the investment for your company.
8: Reach out to current and former partners.
Most sponsorship properties aren’t going to openly tell you what their weaknesses are. Reach out to a few current and former partners to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of the property. This will give you a well-rounded understanding of the benefits or possible challenges when partnering with each sponsorship property.
9: Decide how you are going to track the ROI on the front end.
Select your company’s top 5-10 objectives and have measurement processes in place to track how the partnership impacted those objectives. This will make life much easier when trying to recap the prior year’s partnerships and measure the ROI. Inform your sponsorship contact how you plan to measure the partnership so they can help track results.
10: Speak up right away if something is wrong.
If the ball is being dropped or assets aren’t being delivered that were promised be sure to inform your contact right away. This is a good opportunity to set expectations and allow the property to correct the mistake. More times than not it’s an honest mistake and can be corrected quickly. A phone call to discuss the problem followed by an email to document the discussion is a good starting point.
About the Author
Brandon Latack is the President of the Twin Cities based sponsorship agency, 651 Lab and Founder of PropScore. PropScore is a sponsorship and marketing proposal evaluation tool that allows you to easily compare proposals across any industry and determine if a proposal aligns with your company’s objectives, brand, and target market.