Sports Marketing Sponsorship & Leveraging Your Assets
Sponsorship investment is a huge amount of overall marketing budgets. In 2011 IEG Sponsorship Reports projected sponsorship investment to grow 5.2% to over 18 Billion dollars. Sports marketing, the largest piece of the overall sponsorship pie is also up 3.4%. But with increased investment and the potential shift of dollars within a brand’s marketing mix towards sports sponsorship, are there any real guidelines or rules for success?
Good Brand Fit: Now I know that sounds like common sense, and it is, but often times this is a simple oversight. I recently attended a conference where Alison Lewis, Senior Vice President of Marketing for North America, Coca-Cola, spoke on where Sponsorship fits in the Marketing Mix. Her first comment on analyzing sponsorship was the importance of asking the critical question, “Is this a good fit for my brand?” Asking this question is important because if the sponsorship can be viewed as another platform of communication within your overall marketing mix, it will work harder (better efficiency), align more closely with the other elements of the mix, and be easier to integrate across other mediums and programs.
Don’t let your sponsorship stand alone: Unlike traditional forms of advertising, sponsorship in itself can’t communicate your brand message or product attributes. It can however bring them to life and amplify them. To make the most of your sponsorship investment leveraging your sponsorship assets across mediums is a must. Keeping this in mind as you negotiate sponsorship will play into the success of your program. Be mindful to negotiate the rights to use the personalities, venues, team logos etc. across your key communication platforms to get the most out of the investment.
Extend the fan engagement: As a sponsor, you are paying for rights to use your assets, not only during the game, race or match, but for the entire year. Use them. As stated above, the efficiency of your program increases and so does the effectiveness of your message. One of the greatest aspects of sports marketing is the passion and engagement of the fans. Effective sports sponsorships play on that passion, involving the fans in promotions, communicating directly to them by asking then LISTENING to the fans thoughts. A sponsor can add to the hype and extend the post-game victory buzz by leveraging their messaging and assets across social mediums where they can directly engage the fans. This requires a thoughtful strategy, investment and personnel to do it right.
Bring your sponsorship to the point of purchase: Don’t assume that your target audience is going to readily recall your sponsorship when it comes to purchase decisions. Whether that purchase is on line or in a retail store, ensure your sponsorship is visible when it is time to sway the decision to buy. Leverage your team or personality on pack or via special point of sale and add banner ad investments as part of your media strategy on those key sights where fans shop.
Measure your performance: As with all aspects of the marketing mix, sponsorship programs should be designed around key objectives and be associated with measureable and realistic goals. There is no recipe here for the right methodology to determine ROI. Performance measurement will tie back to objectives.
Give your sponsorship time to mature: Set realistic goals for your sponsorship awareness and affiliation. A lot of brands come and go, but consistency is critical for fans to believe that you truly care about them and their sport. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see a positive ROI in year one. It does mean that an effectively managed sponsorship leveraged across many avenues over several seasons can see growth and expanded performance year on year.
All signs suggest that sponsorship in sports entities will continue to grow. Indicators also point to the fact that companies will remain diligent in their marketing investment strategy. In order for these two areas to co-exist, investing sponsorship dollars smartly is important. Focusing on the fit of the sponsorship, integration of the sponsorship assets throughout the marketing mix, engaging the fans beyond the day of the event, being present at point of purchase, measuring the program results and staying the course with sponsorship investment are all ways companies can look for better performance form their sponsorship spend and ensure they are leveraging their assets to maximize the investment.