How to Shift a Sponsor’s Mindset on Measurement

CrowbarI recently referenced a major Australian sporting organisation in an opinion piece in The Australian newspaper. My comments were about how they were promoting their recent hire of a company that “measures sponsorship 24/7” – basically using software to register logo exposure and put a value on it.

My opinion is very firmly in the category of “Wow, that is old school”. Their response was more or less that they had contracted to provide that information to their sponsors and that it formed an important part of the sponsorship assessment.

My response to their response is, “Wow, that is old school.” The problem is that the situation of sponsors expecting that kind of report is not nearly as uncommon as it should be, and indicate an entire sales and servicing process that are a long way from current.

Fortunately, if you’re in that situation, it’s not that difficult to change both your approach and the sponsor’s mindset around what constitutes a meaningful result and how to measure it. I’ve worked with sponsees to effect that mindset shift with hundreds of sponsors over the years, and this is the approach we take:

Sell meaning, not eyeballs

The issue with expecting a report outlining the value of media exposure usually starts during the sales process. If you sell on the basis of logo exposure, they’ll expect you to prove how much exposure they received. You are, in a sense, making a rod for your own back.

The major problem is that logo exposure is one of the lowest value benefits of a sponsorship and has no correlation with changing perceptions or behaviours around a brand – what marketing is all about. By making exposure a focal point of a sale, and a focal point of measurement, you are de-emphasising the consumer-centric leverage that will deliver the real results for the brand.

Instead of selling exposure as a major benefit, focus on what your property means to the fans, and their relationship to it. Show the potential sponsor how they can add value to the fan experience and align with the passions and priorities of the fans, driving returns against their real marketing objectives.

Some suggested reading:

Educate the sponsors

As sophisticated as sponsorship has become, there will always be a few stalwart sponsors who are either misguided about how sponsorship works or too overworked to care. For them, logo exposure seems like a huge, easy benefit and measuring it like the obvious answer.

Rather than buying (or selling) into that mindset, I strongly suggest that sponsees undertake to educate their sponsors. Many sponsees of all sizes and types are providing their sponsors with education on both leveraging their sponsorships for great results and measuring those results properly. They find that sponsors are more creative, get much better results, tend to be easier to renew and renew at a higher dollar value, and take responsibility for their own measurement.

Doesn’t that sound better than counting on hitting your targets from an ever-shrinking pool of sponsors who buy into first generation, exposure-based offers?

Some suggested reading:

Be a good partner

I hate to say it, but sometimes sponsors want those reports because they think it’s the only way they will ever be able to hold a sponsee accountable. This is usually a symptom of a sponsor not trusting the sponsee to do what they promised, rather than an attempt at actual measurement of the sponsorship.

In addition to ensuring you aren’t selling exposure as a major benefit and educating your sponsors about how to make the most of their sponsorships and measure them, just be a good partner. Be flexible. Understand the sponsor and help them find great leverage ideas. Don’t sell at the highest level, then flick the sponsorship to a junior to admin.

If you take these steps, the requirement for any kind of exposure report will reduce in importance to becoming completely unnecessary over the course of a couple of years.

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