I meet a lot of sponsors, and something that strikes me with alarming frequency is the fact that so many of them are quite aware of what best practice sponsorship is about, and the benefits of doing it, but have taken few, if any, steps to elevate their sponsorship approach to that level.
Why would so many sponsors bother to talk such a good game, when they have no apparent interest in playing it? What’s stopping them from taking the steps necessary to benefit their brand using a more strategic approach? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that fear is a factor. Below, I’ve outlined the five fears I see all the time.
This is actually right. Getting sponsorship to really fly does require a lot of work. The good news is that best practice sponsorship spreads that load to the most sensible people, so your workload is likely to be different, but not bigger.
Here’s the thing, sponsorship does not work in a vacuum. To get the most out of it, it should be used as a catalyst – integrated across your other marketing and business activities. That means, you will be working with decision-makers from across your company and, newsflash, they are all better at their jobs than you are at their jobs.
Want to create sponsorship-driven content? Work with your in-house (or contracted) experts to develop the plan and then – yay! – they implement it. Got an employee angle? That’s where the employee experts, HR, come in. Sales? Your sales team is much better placed to develop the promotions and get retail buy-in than you are. Is there an opportunity for rewarding current customers? That’s the customer retention team. The list goes on and on.
If you do sponsorship right, your job changes from “doer” to “wrangler”, as you manage the process through the different departments. And because those departments are already experts, they will be able to accomplish a lot and do it both expertly and efficiently.
What if you make some changes and, lo and behold, they actually work? Suddenly the bar may be raised on everything you do!
While some corporate managers relish in meeting higher expectations, not everyone is in that category. Let’s face it, some would rather coast.
The thing about best practice sponsorship is that once someone – read: your boss – sees how smart, effective, and creative it is, they will become best practice true believers, and you will be a star. And yes, that means higher expectations.
The good news is that once you know how to construct a best practice sponsorship leverage and measurement program, it is easy to replicate the process for the rest of your portfolio. It’s creative, it’s fun, and so very gratifying. Thinking that you shouldn’t make the first jump because the bar will eventually go up is silly and self-defeating.
I see this one a lot. A sponsorship manager or team wants to make a change, but they don’t want to admit to colleagues and bosses that they had it wrong – or at least not right – before.
Yes, this is a risk, but as someone, somewhere once said, “When you know better, you do better”. And, frankly, it’s a bigger risk not to make the change. Case studies of amazing sponsorships fly around the globe, readily accessible by your peers and your boss. Do you really want to cop the blame for not being ahead of the wave, or even on the wave, but behind it?
This is a valid fear. Sometimes corporate cultures just don’t readily embrace change and knowing you have to fight inertia is enough to stymie any attempts at progress.
Education is your friend. Distribute white papers (“Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” is a great start). Involve colleagues in leverage brainstorms. The fastest thing you can do, however, is to host some in-house training with someone who really knows best practice sponsorship and how to teach it. Show your colleagues the light and they will see the possibilities for your own brands.
Sponsorship managers – particularly at bigger companies – are on a pretty good wicket. They get invited to a lot of events and get a lot of tickets that mere mortals dream about. It’s so good that it is perfectly understandable that you don’t want to change anything, just in case you miss out.
It won’t happen. There is every chance that your portfolio may change to better reflect brand and target market needs, but you’re still going to get all the good invitations. As long as you still have a hand in decisions, you will not miss out.
There you go. Five fears you really don’t need to have. There are no excuses. Get out there and embrace best practice – for your brands, your career, and yourself. You won’t regret it.
You may also be interested in my white papers, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.
If you need additional assistance with your sponsorship portfolio, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large and/or diverse organisations.
Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.
© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. To enquire about republishing or distribution, please see the blog and white paper reprints page.