How to Shift a Sponsor’s Mindset on Measurement

How to Shift a Sponsor’s Mindset on Measurement

These days, sponsorship measurement is sophisticated, multi-faceted, and creates a holistic picture of the results achieved. Sponsors forego measuring mechanisms that are untethered to real results, instead measuring progress on overall marketing objectives, against their own benchmarks.

Except when they don’t.

And when sponsors aren’t measuring their own results – when they don’t have the skills or the impetus to take responsibility for measuring their objectives against their benchmarks – they often turn to you, the rightsholder, to tell them what they achieved, with the expectation that it’s going to be some kind of ROI report. That’s bad for everyone. The sponsor isn’t getting a clear picture of what they accomplished, and you’re put in the position of trying to dress up sponsorship mechanisms to look like results, and hoping it won’t come back to bite you on the arse.

Fortunately, 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 many rightsholders to effect that mindset shift with hundreds of sponsors over the years, and this is the approach I recommend.

Sell meaning and vision, not benefits

The first step to shifting a sponsor’s mindset on measurement is to shift your mindset on what you’re selling.

If you sell based on the benefits a sponsor will get, they’ll want you to quantify the returns on those benefits. If you regress even further, selling 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.

By making the benefits list a focal point of a sale, you’re also de-emphasising the fan-centric leverage a sponsor should undertake that will deliver the real results for the brand. To shift that emphasis, your sales focal points should be:

  • What your property means to the fans, why they care, and their relationship to it. That meaning – that passion – is what provides a powerful, leverageable marketing platform for sponsors.
  • A vision for what a sponsor can do with the property to achieve their goals. Give them great, creative leverage ideas, framing those ideas as how the sponsor can bring the sponsorship to life with their target markets, and against their objectives.

As soon as you refocus your sales on meaning and vision, it puts the onus on the sponsors to leverage, and to get lots of stakeholders involved in that leverage. It also makes clear that results don’t come from the benefits, but the leverage, with the implication that only a sponsor can measure the results of leverage activities they undertake.

Ask the sponsor about their objectives

Before you create any proposal, the basic process is this: Create a well-matched hit list of potential sponsors, research those sponsors, speak to the sponsors. When you speak to the sponsors, you won’t be pitching, you’ll be augmenting the desk research you’ve already done. This is when you start laying the groundwork, with a conversation something like:

YOU: It appears from your current marketing activities that you’re shifting your marketing focus from promotional offers to storytelling and collaborative content development, building customer alignment and advocacy. Am I missing anything?

SPONSOR: We’re also working to position our company and staff as genuinely caring about customers, building trust, consideration, and preference.

YOU: Okay, great. So how do you currently measure the impact of those activities against brand objectives?

SPONSOR; We use a combination of social sentiment analysis, Net Promoter Score, sustained shifts in brand tracking, new business enquiries, and customer value, all against agreed benchmarks.

And there you go. You know their main objectives and how they measure against them, so you can reference these objectives and benchmarks in your proposal.

Ask how the sponsor will be measuring their results

When you get into negotiations with a sponsor, ask them how they’ll be measuring the results. Reference their existing measures, and offer to help, but make it clear that measurement primarily their responsibility. The discussion might sound something like this:

YOU: Just so we’re both on the same page, how will you be measuring the success of your sponsorship against your marketing and business objectives.

SPONSOR: That’s a discussion we’ll have internally, as we’re finalising the leverage plan. I’ll have to get back to you.

YOU: We’re very happy to put a couple of your brand tracking questions on our annual member survey, or help you set up some more robust research with our member base, to gauge shifts in perception, preference, and intent, but you’re clearly better placed to do most of the measurement.

Like this sample conversation, the sponsor might not have the answer straightaway. But if you offer to assist in one of the very few ways you legitimately can help them measure results, and frame it that way, you’re putting the ball squarely in their court.

Educate your sponsors

I strongly suggest that rightsholders undertake to educate their sponsors. Many rightsholders of all sizes and types are providing their sponsors with education on both leveraging their sponsorships for great results, and measuring those results properly. I do a lot of this kind of education, and my clients 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.

Need more assistance?

For all you need to know about sponsorship sales and servicing, you may want to get a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition. You may also be interested in my latest white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.

If you need additional assistance, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large, diverse, and decentralised organisations.

Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.

Please note, I do not offer a sponsorship broker service, and can’t sell sponsorship on your behalf. You may find someone appropriate on my sponsorship broker registry.

© 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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