8 Things To Understand When Embarking on a Sponsorship
1. The Work’s Not Done When the Ink is Dry
Getting to the point of signing a sponsorship contract takes a lot of work. Figuring out the rights you want, deciding what you can afford and dealing with legal teams can be draining and you’ll be glad when you’ve finally got a signed copy in your hands. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you’ve signed, the hard work is done. In fact, it’s just beginning.
As with a good marriage, successful sponsorships require attention, creativity, and hard work for many years. Most importantly, keep your relationship with your partner pleasant throughout contract negotiations as you will need their assistance when it comes to activation!
2. Are You Sure You Know What You’re Doing?
Define your objective early on. What is the purpose of having the asset? How will you use the rights you have? If you don’t have clarity on your key objective(s), then you are likely to muddle your message to your target audience. In addition, without clarity on your goal, you are likely to negotiate, and more importantly pay for, a number of rights that end up unused (or misused).
That’s not to say that you should worry if you have more than one objective. Quite often, larger sponsorships will be negotiated to meet a variety of secondary business objectives. As long as each secondary objective is clearly defined and a well thought out activation plan carves the rights to meet each objective, you will be able to ensure measureable results for your asset.
3. If You Pat Your Partner’s Back, They’ll Clothe Yours
Nice shirt. Colourful. Do you think your partner is going to want to wear it?
Always have your partner’s objectives in the back of your mind. Don’t go through all of the work of creating an engaging and interesting campaign plan just to be told by your partner that you can’t proceed. You must understand from the beginning that the partner has put much more work into developing the asset than you have. It has its own brand, its own objectives, its own tone of voice and you will be more successful if you incorporate these into your plan rather than fighting against them to create your own standalone campaign.
That’s not to say that you should step back and allow the partner to define your campaign. Your role isn’t simply to drive their messaging alone. You pay large sponsorship fees so that you can access their assets. But you still need their cooperation to get value out of your activation. So foster a relationship – it’s a long term deal and if you can pat their back on a few things, they will work harder to help you achieve your goals.
4. Ask Yourself – How Good Are You at Puzzles?
As indicated above, defining a list of rights is only the beginning when it comes to a successful sponsorship. Now you need to find the best way to leverage those rights so you squeeze as much value out of them as possible.
There are likely to be many different rights, of varying importance, of high quantities and perhaps happening on different dates or in separate locations. So where do you start? Well it’s much like putting together a puzzle with the end goal being meeting your objective(s). Hold brainstorms, clearly define your budgets and goals and keep yourself organised. Look at all of the options by moving the rights around until they make sense in a well thought out campaign plan.
Leaning on an agency with experience in sponsorship activation is often more efficient and effective than going at it on your own!
5. What is a Hashtag and Why Does it Matter if it’s Trending?
Like the rest of the marketing industry, I’m sure you’re aware that social media can no longer be ignored as both an important channel and a platform for your communications. Heed this warning – don’t forget the importance of social media. Also heed this warning – don’t overestimate new and gimmicky social media techniques of reaching your audience. Often times we get caught up in the excitement of being the first to leverage these cool new opportunities without taking the time to evaluate if they have an engaged audience that matches our target and if our brand can create legitimate conversation in that arena.
So ensure you properly evaluate each opportunity and determine if it is right for your target audience and if it will drive measurable results to meet your objectives. Also take some time to consider how sponsorships affect your brand message with a specific medium. For example, best practice now dictates that sponsored celebrities now include “#ad” or “#sponsored” at the end of any tweet you have endorsed.
6. Communicate With Your Consumers!
So you’ve developed an activation campaign and now it’s time to communicate it to your audience. Don’t forget to take the time to tell your consumers why the partnership exists. Ultimately, you’ve become a sponsor to provide them with benefits – so don’t give them a convoluted message! Tell them in simple terms what they can get out of it and you’ll see your engagement with them lifted. And don’t be silly – invest in the comms. There is no point in creating a great activation plan if no one knows about it because you forgot to invest budget in reaching them where they normally look!
7. Is it All About the Money?
You’ve just spent a ton on your sponsorship fees. I’d love to tell you that that was your major expenditure, but that would be vastly incorrect. In fact, depending on your sponsorship, it is widely accepted that you should spend (at a minimum) the amount of your fees again on activation. In most cases, a figure closer to 1:1.5 or 1:2 is more accurate (Sponsorship Fees : Sponsorship Activation). Don’t forget the cost of agency fees, creative, production, media space, etc.
As this can get costly quickly, it’s even more important not to waste your activation money on negotiating rights that you’re not going to be able to activate!
8. Do You Look Like All the Others?
In marketing, differentiation from competitors is key of course. But when embarking on a sponsorship, differentiation from other sponsors is also important. Think about it. If an asset has multiple sponsors, and you are all given similar rights (e.g. tickets to an event), if you all use them in the same way (e.g. a prize promotion), you aren’t going to stand out from the crowd as you aren’t offering anything different. Have a look at how you can make your assets even more exclusive and keep the lines of communication open with your partner so that you can properly understand how the other sponsors are using their assets.
Ways to work around this may include liaising with some of the other sponsors to maximise your messaging and reduce your costs. For example, an airline, a hotel and a radio sponsor could team up to offer a great prize package communicated to a large audience. Or, consider your timing to market. If you sponsor a concert series for instance and all of the tickets have sold out or been distributed, if you’re the last one to market, you’re ticket allocation will suddenly become the most popular!