How to Right-Size Your Sponsorship Leverage Activities

How to Right-Size Your Sponsorship Leverage ActivitiesAny regular reader of this blog knows that I talk a lot about sponsorship being win-win-win. That third win is for the target markets, with the goal being small, meaningful benefits for all or most of the market, not a chance to go into a draw for one person to win one big prize.

The question is, then, what do you do with benefits or leverage activities that are, by their very nature, limited in size? How do you make that a win for everyone… and should you even try? As usual, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve!

Know how the third “win” works

Providing that third win is about adding real value to a fan’s experience with an event (or whatever it is you’re sponsoring). This is in stark contrast to most sponsorship, which at best wallpapers the event, and at worst disrespects or intrudes on the experience.

The win doesn’t need to be huge; it just needs to be meaningful. It needs to say, “We understand this experience and how much you care about it, and this is how we’re making that experience better for you.” This could include:

  • Fixing or reducing some of the worst things about the experience.
  • Amplifying some of the best things about the experience.
  • Making people feel like they are more a part of the experience – participating, not just spectating.
  • Making people feel closer to something they love.

Wins can be functional, emotional, or both. The key is that all or most of the people in a target market need to be able to access the win. It is much better to provide a small win to lots of people than one big win to one winner.

For instance, if there are hundreds of thousands or millions of fans of a team, the perceived difference between you offering one big prize of a pair of grand final tickets or 50 pairs of grand final tickets is almost nil. The fans still don’t believe have any chance of winning, so why bother entering? In the mind of the fans, providing them with a much smaller win that they can easily access is more meaningful and has more impact on deepening your relationship with fans.

Understand the size of the markets

Every market you are trying to influence will have a different size. Before you can right-size the wins, you need to understand the size of your markets. These could include markets, such as:

  • Your customers (all)
  • Your customers (geographic, psychographic, demographic segments)
  • Your potential customers (people you actively market to)
  • Intermediary markets, such as retailers, resellers, dealerships, or brokers (all, one channel, geographic segment, etc)
  • Major, VIP, enterprise, or institutional customers
  • Staff
  • Fans who actively participate in the sponsored property (attendees, members, donors, volunteers, etc)
  • Remote fans, who love the property, but may not attend, donate, etc
  • All fans of the sponsored property
  • Fans of the property category (tennis, professional development, dance music, etc)
  • Fans of the larger theme (foodies, conservationists, fitness buffs, etc)

Looking at those fifty pairs of grand final tickets, across which of these groups would that constitute a broad win? Most likely, a segment of your intermediary or VIP markets.

Negotiate for benefits that can be “spread around”

If you want to create wins, you need to have some raw materials that can be leveraged into those wins. There are a million ways to do this, but a few of them are below. (For more, download my white paper, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux”.)

If there are hundreds of thousands or millions of fans of a team, the perceived difference between you offering one big prize of a pair of grand final tickets or 50 pairs of grand final tickets is almost nil.

Exclusive content is one of the hottest ways to create wins, and that generally requires that you negotiate for access to intellectual property, celebrities, players, and/or inner sanctum insights. For specifics, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Another great benefit you can negotiate for, turning it into wins, is the ability to influence the event or property in some way. Pepsi offered Canadian football fans the opportunity to vote on the playlist for the halftime band in their pinnacle game, the Grey Cup.

Then there are the benefits that are about making the experience of attending better. This could include things like premium access for customers (express entry, VIP parking, bag or coat check, etc), experience amplifiers, some kind of mass participation activity, augmented reality, or gamifying some aspect of the fan experience.

How to spread the “wins” around

Our knee-jerk reaction these days is often to look straight at social media. There is no question, social media is one of our most perfect ways to leverage a sponsorship and provide wins to lots of people. But, it’s not the only way.

Think about apps, customisable content, episodic content, and crowdsourcing. Think about your distribution system – your packaging, your retailers, your branches. Think about all of the ways you stay in touch with your customer base. Think about all of the other media you use. Think about where large groups of fans congregate – stadiums, events, pubs, etc.

In fact, sometimes low tech is a thing of beauty. Autograph pen of choice, Sharpie, demonstrates their huge product range while adding value to the fan experience at games. How? They provide stacks of heavy paper and piles of pens so that fans can make their own signs. It doesn’t get much lower tech than that, but I’m telling you, if Sharpie did that at the Sydney Swans, my daughter would pull me there at a run every home game!

What if you have one giant thing to give away?

If there is only one big win, ensure that there are other little wins build into the entry and/or decision process. Allowing people to nominate or vote on the winner, or be entertained by and share content created by the winner, are just two of the little wins you can build into the process of someone getting the big win. What you’ll find, I’m sure, is that you’ll get a lot more traction with consumers with those little wins than with the big one!

The upshot with all of this is that in order for your brand to win, your target market has to win. Don’t dangle a carrot they know they won’t get and expect results. It is incumbent on you and your team to come up with ways for all or most of them to get at least one small, meaningful win, and when what you have to offer is limited, you need to right size the target market so that there are enough wins to go around.

Need more assistance?

You may be interested in my white papers,  “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“. I’ve also got self-paced, online sponsorship training courses for both sponsors and rightsholders. Get the details and links to course outlines and reviews here.

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 Systems Design service for large, diverse, and decentralised 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.

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