The Must-Ask Sponsorship Research Questions

The Must-Ask Sponsorship Research QuestionsI recently had someone put a sponsorship research plan from Neilsen in front of me. This was a plan created to help sponsors and potential sponsors understand the target market and how to get value from them.

It sucked. Sorry, Neilsen, but it really sucked. But I’m not just picking on Neilsen here. The plan looked just like dozens I’ve seen in the past few years and reflect what most sponsorship seekers think they and their sponsors need to know.

Here’s the thing: You don’t need to ask 25 questions about someone’s demographics. They’re not that important… really. Demographics don’t get people’s arses on your seats, psychographics do – people’s motivations, priorities, lifestyle, and self-definitions.

Think of psychographics as being who the target markets are, while demographics are what they are. Demographics are a blunt instrument, more useful for telling you who isn’t in your target market than anything useful about who is. With that in mind, pick the five or six most important demographic attributes, ask those questions, and then start asking the right questions.

Generally, it’s sponsorship seekers (aka, properties) that will carry out this research. If they’re not, sponsors can and should request that they do.

My three favourite questions

There are lots of psychographic questions you can ask – and you should ask a range – but these three questions will be the most useful to sponsorship seekers, sponsors, and potential sponsors:

  • What were the three best thing about your experience today?
  • What were the three worst things about your experience today?
  • What are the three main reasons you decided to attend?

Clearly, the wording will need to be changed for different types of properties, but this will give you a very strong insight into motivations and priorities.

Bonus points: Magic wand questions

I’ve recently started throwing in the occasional magic wand question or two, drilling deeper into the priorities and mindset of the target markets. These could be something like…

  • If you were given $1000 today to improve your garden, what would you do with it?
  • What is your greatest challenge in getting your garden to what it could be? Time, muscle, money, or creativity?

Questions like this remove the constraints of practicality and allow you to access their ideal scenario.

How sponsors can use this information?

One of the best and easiest ways for a sponsor to leverage a sponsorship is for them to add value to the event (or whatever) experience of the target markets. You could…

  • Amplify the best stuff about the event
  • Ameliorate the worst stuff about the event
  • Get people just a little bit closer to their dreams (the magic wand stuff)

If properties can provide them with feedback about what the audience says are the best and worst aspects of the event – bam! Sponsors now have the exact information they need to start a strong leverage plan.

The motivations to attend create an opportunity for a sponsor to demonstrate an alignment with the priorities of that target market in both leverage programs and messaging.

But wait, there’s more…

These days, sponsors are also most likely targeting and leveraging the sponsorship across a segment of their own target market, creating a meaningful reach that is larger than what the property is probably delivering. The thing is, that segment of their target markets may be interested, but not as engaged – eg, they don’t attend, but they do watch it on TV or they read the white papers from the conference. Having access to this research will also give sponsors insight into aligning with and adding value to those people who are a bit further from the epicentre of the property, even though how they add that value is probably going to be different.

Sponsorship seekers have the option of providing the raw information to sponsors, and letting them come up with their own leverage ideas. Even better, you could use this information to come up with some leverage ideas for them. Once you’ve got the insight, that’s not difficult at all.

How sponsorship seekers can use this information?

If you ask those questions, your marketing plan will be significantly more efficient and effective.

Your organisation will stop targeting people as if they are all one big homogeneous mass. Once you’ve got insight into their motivations and priorities, it will no longer be “care about kids with cancer”, but people who are driven by empathy, or personal experience, or gratitude that their own kids are healthy, or even peer pressure.

This matters because the messages that each of these segments will pay attention to are different, and separating and targeting those messages is far more effective than putting every call to action you can think of into one cluttered, confused message.

The upshot

So, there you go. A few simple questions that can unlock a wealth of information to improve your marketing plan and, even better, increase the value and effectiveness of your sponsors’ investments. You’d be silly not to do it.

Need more assistance?

You may be interested in my latest white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.

Rightsholders, 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.

If you need professional assistance with sponsorship, 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/or 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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