If you're responsible for sponsorship decision-making and execution for a corporation, check out this two-part Q&A with writer Michael J. McDermott for his article on improving the effectiveness of event sponsorship for ANA Magazine, a publication of the Association of National Advertisers. Be sure to visit on Wednesday for part 2.
Michael J. McDermott (MJMcD): What are the most important areas marketers need to focus on when considering whether a sports or event sponsorship opportunity is right for them?
Gail S. Bower (GSB):
- Is the sponsorship medium appropriate for our strategy?
- Will this opportunity advance our strategy, and is it aligned with our priorities? How do we know?
- Is this opportunity managed by people who will be good partners for us?
- Do we have enough time, energy, and resources to take full advantage of the opportunity so that we get results?
MJMcD: How important is resource allocation when it comes to executing a successful sports/event sponsorship campaign?
GSB: Very. One of the biggest mistakes I see on the corporate side of sponsorship is when marketers invest in sponsorship (in other words, pay the sponsorship fee) but then fail to take full advantage of it. That’s like buying a TV schedule and not giving the network or station the spot!
Marketers will derive much better results from their sponsorship investments if they really consider these investments as focal points for broader marketing efforts. Weave in advertising, social media, PR, promotion, and as many other business objectives as possible. These objectives may include engaging consumers, entertaining clients, driving traffic to retail outlets, showcasing CSR or diversity initiatives, attracting or retaining talent, rewarding sales teams, building merchant or vendor relationships, and many others.
MJMcD: and why?
To see business and marketing results, to avoid wasting money, to derive full value of the sponsorship medium.
MJMcD: Same question for operational issues?
GSB: Also very important. If a sponsorship opportunity is appropriate and strategically aligned, it will be aligned across many areas of the business – not just the marketing or PR function. The investment will become more cost effective and have a greater impact for the business if it’s woven into the fabric of the operation. This obviously requires time, strategic fit, and an operation that avoids silos. Teams will need to work together to conceptualize and execute.
MJMcD: And for integration with other communication channels?
GSB: If the opportunity is appropriate, it will work on many levels of the organization and will lend itself well to a transmedia approach. Take the time to develop the communications strategy so that the sponsorship opportunity truly becomes a focal point. Sponsor an event at a critical time for sales. Build the advertising schedule around it to drive traffic and get mileage out of the sponsorship tie. Create in-store promotions. Develop PR messages. Engage social media friends and followers. Create an online experience around the opportunity; Saxo Bank’s sponsorship of the Tour de France is a great example.
Also, with consumer trust in corporations still off as we manage our ways out of the recession, corporations have an opportunity to benefit from being a friendly face in the communities in which they become involved. These may be geographic communities, virtual communities, or people linked by common interests, passions, conditions, and goals. Make sure this interaction is genuine, human, real, transparent, and not shallow.