As we near the end of the year, many of us are deep into planning for 2013. Unfortunately, many sponsors simply pull out last year’s plans, update a few figures, and do the same thing again and again. If your sponsorship program hasn’t had any radical updates in the past few years, it’s probably time to shake things up. For some companies, however, “radical” changes aren’t part of the corporate culture. In that case, implementing a few simple alterations in the planning process – changes that will seem relatively innocuous – could create much better results and set in motion the mindset for much bigger changes in future.
Stop winner-takes-all contests
If you’re doing promotions where one person, or just a handful of people, win a big prize, stop. Just stop. People don’t believe they’re actually going to win those things and aren’t going to change their perceptions or behaviours around your brand. You’re basically asking for them to share information and interact with your brand for (probably) no benefit to them whatsoever.
Instead, think about small, meaningful benefits that you can provide to all or most of your target market. Don’t offer a drawing to win finals tickets, offer your customers a short window where they can buy the tickets before everyone else.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have any signage or logos. What I’m saying is that, beyond brand hygiene, you shouldn’t think about them. The preponderance of research categorises logo exposure as a low-value mechanism with no bearing on changing perceptions or behaviours around a brand.
When you negotiate, leverage, and measure a sponsorship, forget that you get any logo exposure at all. This will force you to concentrate on the much meatier aspects of your sponsorships – the ones that will impact perceptions and behaviours. You’ll end up with sponsorships that are genuinely win-win-win, with the third win going to the target markets – who will love you for it. Not clear on best practice, win-win-win sponsorship? Download white paper, “Last Generation Sponsorship”.
Plan measurement when you plan leverage
When you know how you’ll be judged, you work toward that goal. 100m sprinters are judged on speed, and they know that from the day they embark on that quest, so everything they do is geared that way. They’re not told to “go get fit” with no direction, as that could mean any number of things. Yet, many sponsorships are planned and leveraged with no thought going into how they will be measured. The leverage lacks a specific direction, and the result is half-arsed, at best.
A better mindset is to plan measurement when you plan leverage. Your sponsorships are geared toward changing specific perceptions and behaviours. Define these changes, and how they will be measured, before implementing any leverage, and you’ll be much more strategic and specific, and you won’t waste energy on leverage plans that don’t directly contribute.
Don’t just say “yes” to what is offered. Assume when you read the proposal that…
- The proposal is just a starting point.
- You will be planning your leverage program before you negotiate the sponsorship.
- From that leverage session, you will negotiate the specific benefits you need and forgo or minimise any benefits that are low value and/or purely cosmetic.
In the end, you may come out wanting almost exactly what they are offering – and if so, the sponsorship seeker is well above average in insight and creativity. More likely, you’ll counter-offer for a package that has more meat, less fluff, and provides you with exactly the tools you need to nurture your bonds with the target markets and achieve your overall marketing goals. Either way, the process of leveraging before you negotiate will ensure you have the internal buy-in you need to make a sponsorship operate at its peak.
There are certainly many other things you can do – changes big and small – that will increase both your returns and the efficiency of a sponsorship. But if you start with these reasonably small changes, the differences they make in your results will well outstrip the effort they take, and the changes in mindset that these techniques engender will set you up for a more radical shift into fully best practice sponsorship.
For everything you need to know about how to make sponsorship work for your brand, you may want to pick up a copy of new book, The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit. It features straightforward how-to for every step of the process, as well as plenty of templates and checklists.
© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. For republishing information see Blog and White Paper Reprints.