For nearly a decade, I’ve attended countless games and events, and unlike most folks sitting around me, I spend more time watching sponsorship activities than the game or event itself. Over the years, I’ve seen it all – in-venue signage, co-branded rally towels and bobbleheads, texting promotions, cash and prize giveaways, contestant competitions, product announcements, VIP promotions, quirky in-game hosts, fan cams, brought-to-you-by mentions, logo placements and more.
At its core, a sponsorship can provide marketers with the opportunity to identify with a particular target market, increase awareness of a brand or product, create or reinforce perceptions of a brand, enhance a corporate image, tap into fan/patron loyalty, and optimize merchandising and promotional efforts. The right sponsorship can help to transform a brand and integrate it into the lives of target audiences.
The right sponsorship can most certainly cost millions, but it doesn’t have to. Some of the priciest promotions aren’t necessarily the most effective, or memorable. To ensure that you’re getting the most from every sponsorship, I encourage you to follow a defined and customized approach:
In addition to following a process, cultivating a strong business relationship with your contact is critical to a successful sponsorship. The right partner is generating ideas based on the goals and objectives you have identified and isn’t just stamping your company name onto a pre-packaged proposal. A good partner should offer opportunities and experiences to patrons that wouldn’t otherwise be possible were it not for your sponsorship. A strong partnership invites open dialogue, mutual respect, collaboration and efficient issue-solving during negotiations. Your contact should be responsive and involved in every step of the process (not just at the contract signing or to collect payment). And when the event or season has ended, the right partner is coming to the table with new ideas and a fresh perspective for the next opportunity.
The event-day experience for fans at major events is evolving as patron habits change and new technologies emerge. Event producers are consistently looking for and investing in new ways to encourage more spending and to heighten their experiences within the venue. Your sponsorships should evolve as the opportunities do.