Sponsorship Measurement: How to Measure what’s Important

Tape measure - SmallA couple of months ago, I read a blog by Seth Godin. In it, he asked a question that has stuck in my head ever since:

Do you measure it because it’s important,
or is it important because it’s measured?

Our industry is guiltier than most of the latter, and that is one of the biggest factors that keep sponsors from performing at their peak. The fact is that once we have worked out what constitutes a “success” – what we are measuring that “success” against – we work to that measure. The result is that how we measure sponsorship is critical to the true results we accomplish.

A frighteningly large proportion of sponsors still measure mechanisms, often the same mechanisms they’ve measured for years. How much exposure have we got? How many people can name us as a sponsor? Sponsor who use those measures of success are the sponsors that get pedantic about where there signs are placed and whether some other sponsor’s logo is two millimetres bigger on the sponsor thank you page.

These are the sponsors who revolve their whole leverage campaign around being the loudest, most visible, and most memorable sponsor at a given event, in the hope that their awareness levels go up. Okay, so you’ve annoyed people into remembering you… has that changed their propensity to buy? Loyalty? Perception of your brand? Probably not, but who really knows? These measures have nothing to do with results. It’s like judging the quality of a cake based on how many people walked past it in the shop window or stopped to have a look.

For some sponsors, all they want to know is if they’ve got a bargain. What would those benefits have cost us a la carte? What are they “worth”, individually? They are concerned about getting “bang for their buck”, but that “bang” isn’t tied to real objectives at all. For these sponsors, it’s all about the deal – “what have we got for our money?” not, “what have we accomplished with this investment?” This is like judging the quality of a cake based on whether the whole cake cost less than it would have cost you to buy the ingredients. The cake could be crap, but at least it was a bargain!

I could go on and on about those objectives that really aren’t – those inconsequential mechanisms that are taking the place of real objectives in so many sponsorship portfolios, simply because they are easy to measure or the sponsor simply doesn’t know how to measure real objectives.

Instead, let’s talk about those real objectives and how to start measuring what’s important.

Step 1: Choose your objectives

Note, I didn’t say “create your objectives”, I said “choose”. That’s because you don’t create sponsorship objectives. Each sponsorship should be achieving a subset of overall brand marketing and business objectives. Familiarise yourself with those, and work with the stakeholders involved to determine which of those objectives are most appropriate to a given sponsorship.

Step 2: Determine the benchmarks

Once you’ve chosen the objectives, don’t let those stakeholders out of your sight until they’ve specified the existing benchmarks they have, from which you can measure. You can’t possibly know what you’ve accomplished if you don’t know where you started.

It’s all well and good to say you’ve moved 10,000 cases of cereal in a given market where you’ve got a sponsorship and some on-pack or in-store activity, but if you have no benchmark, how do you know if you’ve actually changed purchase behaviour?

I would be delighted to hear that purchase intent of people who had participated in your sponsorship leverage activity had hit 56%, but only if you could show that was an improvement over your ambient purchase intent, as measured in ongoing or recent target market research.

Step 3: Set realistic targets

You’re still not done with your stakeholders! Based on the objectives selected, and the benchmarks nominated, what would those stakeholders consider a success? What mechanisms will they use to measure those results?

Yes, that’s right… the stakeholders will be measuring their own results. They have the mechanisms to do that at their fingertips and your company has already decided they trust in those measures. Having anyone but Sales report on sales, retail, or promotion figures is just silly. Having anyone but HR report on employee satisfaction, pride, or retention is in the same category. Every stakeholder that is impacted by a sponsorship is in the best position to measure against objectives in their area. Period.

Step 4: Measure

Once the planning has been done, measurement becomes very straightforward. Most of your stakeholders will be measuring against multiple objectives in multiple ways, all against benchmarks, and at the end of the day, will provide a realistic set of data from which you can create a complete, defensible report.

Step 5: Reporting

The Corporate Sponsorship ToolkitReporting isn’t about mashing all of this good, solid, benchmarked information into some kind of neat little number. (I’m talking to YOU, all of you people who try to create dollars-to-dollars ratios!) Reporting is about collating the data into a multi-faceted report that tells the real story of the success of a sponsorship. It’s about using the data you’ve got and reflecting it against both benchmarks and projections, and because that data has come from the stakeholders who “own” those pieces of your business, it will be credible.

As someone who has created many, many of these measurement reports for corporate clients, I can tell you with hand on heart that even the most die-hard, ratio-loving, C-level executives would much rather read a report like that than try to make themselves believe that a nice looking ratio means anything at all.

There is lots more about how to appropriately measure your sponsorships in the video tutorial, “Sponsorship Measurement Basics in About 10 Minutes”, found on the Power Sponsorship YouTube Channel.

For all you need to know about best practice sponsorship selection, leverage, measurement, management, and more, you may want to get a copy of The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit.

Need more assistance?

If you need any assistance, I am available for consulting and strategy sessions. Just drop me a line and we can discuss your needs and what I can do for you.

Kim Skildum-Reid
kim@powersponsorship.com
AU: +61 2 9559 6444
US: +1 612 326 5265

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