Sponsorships play a major role in so many organizations revenues and marketing strategies. Here are the challenges and strategies to assuring their success.
Consider these compelling stats:
- 63% of event managers rely on sponsorships as an important income source.
- IEG, the expert in sponsorships, reports that total sponsorship spending by businesses just in North America will reach $23.2 billion in 2017.
It’s beneficial to you give your sponsorships the best chance to attract the right sponsors. More important, you need to have the right strategy, systems, skills and structure in place to deliver the value that sponsors demand.
I encourage organizations — events or programs and brands and companies — to be clear and confident with their sponsorship goals and challenges so this valuable marketing and business growth strategy can thrive and produce results.
Part 1 of this two-part series of posts covers sponsorship goals and challenges. Part 2 offers sponsorship success strategies.
Sponsorship Benefits and Goals
When you know and appreciate what motivates businesses to become a sponsor, you can improve your strategy for secure their investment and sponsorship.
The most common business sponsorship reasons I have found in working on hundreds of sponsorships:
- Attracting customers to a brand and sustaining their interest in it.
- Differentiating a company or brand from its competition.
- Building and reinforcing abrand’s image by personalizing or even humanizing it.
- Improving company or product awareness and credibility.
- Driving customers to a website or brick and mortar retailer.
- Demonstrating community engagement and corporate social responsibility.
- Creating platforms to sample and demonstrate a new product’s superiority.
- Entertaining and building rapport with key customers or buyers.
- Developing a new strategy for recruiting, retaining and motivating your team.
- Attracting and engaging and influencers to generate brand or company exposure.
Sponsorship challenges vary by companies, brands and organizations but generally fall into these categories. Some of these are intertwined, and have relevance on their own:
- Inadequate time, team or money is invested to create a sponsorship marketing and sales strategy. So great sponsorships aren’t identified or implemented, and the ones that are implemented, fall short because there are no valued resources committed to a sponsorship’s success.
- There is no sponsorship marketing and sales strategy. Brands or companies take a chance on sponsorships just to “see what happens.” Their sponsorship ROI isn’t what they expected because sponsorship efforts are mis-guided and specific goals never defined. Brands or organizations quickly and thoughtlessly abandon what could be a valuable marketing strategy or push harder in their efforts with even more disappointing results.
- Inability to evaluate the effectiveness of a sponsorship marketing and sales strategy. Like flying blind with no strategy, brands that have no Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – see benefits and goals above and don’t track more exposure, website hits, social mentions, conversations, leads or sales won’t know if a sponsorship worked or not. So, brands or organizaitons continue following an uncharted path, working harder and getting less and wasting marketing team and leadership’s time and money.
- Lack sponsorship marketing and sales strategy leader or team. In this challenge, a sponsorship opportunity for challenge just drifts or idles, so a company that sponsors an event or program feels compromised or even duped and then abruptly cancels a sponsorship before it happens or midstream. The opportunity to build the brand’s image, drive traffic and even entertain customers is lost or flailing. If this is a major marketing strategy, new product introductions or repositioning or efforts to reach new audiences fail dismally.
- No coaching or direction for your team on sponsorship marketing and sales strategy or tactics. Usually, a less experienced team member is given responsibility for sales and marketing strategy because management is concentrating on business management and operations and hiring a sponsorship manager can be cost prohibitive. But, this person’s inexperience typically leads to ineffective strategies and business building opportunities are wasted on what could become a very timely and expensive strategy.
- Leadership also oversee general management and operations and run sponsorship marketing and sales, so they have limited time to ensure a sponsorship is optimized. As you can imagine, now sponsorship becomes a secondary concern or probably even a nuisance to company leadership. So, they pay as little attention as possible to a sponsorship and sometimes can even “hope it goes away,” so the brand’s image and engagement looks unprofessional during the sponsorship opportunity. And customers don’t consider it or the brand or company relevant or innovative.
- No systems to ensure sponsorship marketing and sales strategies and efforts are successful. Without the guidelines and directions that effective systems provide; many sponsorship strategies and tactics that seem trivial (but are the pinnings) are not take care of, and valued and relevant impact is unrealized. Systems can be as simple as assuring registration information for databases or that important members of the management or marketing team are present at the significant events to lend stature and demonstrate organization’s partnership and dedication to the sponsorship opportunity.
- There is no objectivity when evaluating sponsorships sales and marketing. With some sponsorships, organizations simply follow a leader’s personal bias for a sponsorship. That can be he or she is prerogative, but a brand or company needs to ensure that a sponsorship is meeting important business goals as well as personal causes or missions.
So what’s the answer?
It’s integrated solutions or what I call the 4Ss of sponsorship are valuable. They are fundamentals that produce results challenges addressed above. Without them, success will not be realized.
So how are you assuring that your sponsorships succeed and produce impact for your business?
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