Thinking / The Missing Piece: Getting Feedback Straight from the Source

The Missing Piece: Getting Feedback Straight from the Source

This is the third in a series on Sponsorship.

Without an audience, sponsorships don’t exist. Sponsorships are created for their consumption. The activity is crafted to influence their emotions, opinions and behaviors. These audiences are the driving force, the center of our universe, the glue that holds everything together.

Yet, despite their pivotal role, sponsorship programs rarely incorporate the voice of the customer. That’s like an architect designing a client’s house without ever asking what they like or want. Sounds risky, doesn’t it? It should. When sponsorship decisions are made without consulting the audience, not only are you undermining potential relevance and receptivity, but you also diminish your ability to determine sponsorship effectiveness. And that cycle will continue as long as you continue to ignore the voice of the customer.

How do you break this cycle? There are many ways to get input from your audiences – social media analysis, qualitative conversations, quantitative research; it’s all fair game. In selecting the most appropriate method for your scenario, it’s important to consider your objectives first. From there you should be able to answer the following:

  • How will you use customer input?
  • What do you want to know from your customers? (Try to prioritize here!)  

In our experience, we have found that including the voice of the customer can be the catalyst for a more systematic sponsorship approach. For one of our clients, this shift made a number of challenging, and often subjective, variables more manageable. This client had many political influences at play, so historically it had been very difficult to justify investment changes or ensure they were getting the value they should from their investments. So when we took on the opportunity to redefine sponsorships for this client, we decided to let the customer help.

In this case we wanted audience input to help inform appropriate partner selections and investment levels. The voice of the customer was incorporated as one factor among many, but a very important one that had been sorely missing. What we wanted to know was fairly simple:

  • To what degree do our target audiences know about and interact with potential partners?
  • What is their level of favorability toward potential partners?
  • What values do they associate with potential partners?

In combination with a structured evaluation process, we implemented a recurring quantitative survey to collect audience answers to our questions. As a result, we’ve been able to gauge appropriateness and relevance of potential partners that reach out to this client. This helps in the selection and distribution of sponsorship investments in the beginning of the relationship. It also carries through the relationship, proving to be very handy over time.

Adding a consistent consumer element to a structured evaluation process provides a way to benchmark and track performance against the desired impact. This works very similar to a pre- vs. post-sponsorship activation evaluation, but executed on an ongoing basis. Now, for the first time, we are able to make year-over-year comparisons of marketing KPIs, custom to our client’s audience. We also now have tangible feedback to help identify where adjustments should be made to improve on our sponsorship activity.

In short, alignment with your key audiences is a critical component that can unlock a number of benefits, as long as you make it a priority. This means going beyond a basic educated guess of what may be most relevant for your audience. It means getting input straight from the source and using that input to develop a sponsorship program with clear results. Don’t undercut the valuable input your customers have to offer. It’s hard to argue with demonstrated success.

If you’ve read something in this sponsorship series that piques your interest, please don’t hesitate to engage us in a conversation by email or by calling King Hill at 216-285-2849. Click here for POV #1 and POV #2 of the series.