Big Sponsorship Leverage Trend: Under-Produce

Under ConstructionIf you’re anything like me, you love to see a plan come together – all the pieces falling into place to form a seamless, cohesive whole. I get all a-tingle just thinking about it.

Sponsors do this all the time. They plan and execute leverage strategies that are things of beauty. But as glorious as it is to have a “perfect” leverage plan in place – and as a bit of a perfectionist, it pains me to tell you this – your leverage will work better if you leave a few holes and some of the edges ragged.

The first reason you want to somewhat under-produce your leverage program is that marketing that looks too slick, too manufactured, pushes the cynicism button for consumers. Think about it: You have invested in the privilege to connect with your target markets through something they already care about, and then you opt for slick , often highly brand-centric, commercialism. It’s a turn-off. The good news is that the alternative works a lot better.

My favourite reason to under-produce is that it leaves space for the target markets. Let them fill in the blanks, create the content, provide input and feedback. In short, allow the consumers to be the architects, not only of their event experience, but of their brand experience around that event.

A great example of this is how Orange leverages their major sponsorship of the Glastonbury Festival. Their leverage plan is stuff of legend, and you really need to check out their micro-site to appreciate it. While you’re there, however, take a good look at how much of the content of that site is generated by their customers and music fans. They don’t overly stage-manage the content. Instead, they showcase the passion of music fans in all its imperfect glory. When they combine that willingness to share the platform with their customers and music fans with the rest of their creative, responsive leverage plan, the put their brand in the unassailable position of both adding real value to, and aligning with, their target markets.

The good news for sponsors is that social media has made sharing the platform much easier, but if you’re going to do it, you actually do have to share. Creating a Facebook page is all well and good, but if you aren’t showcasing fan comments on your main page, or delete any negative comments, you’re missing the point. Creating a sponsorship-driven Twitter account is fantastic, unless all you do is post outbound marketing messages and never respond to anyone.

When it comes right down to it, as a sponsor, you should not be providing an experience, but sharing it with your target markets. The idea of being a “brand hero” is self-centred and (thankfully) dying. Instead, be a brand fan. Jump into the experience with your target markets. Revel in it. Share it. Reap the benefits.

Need more assistance?

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.

If you need additional assistance with your sponsorship portfolio, I offer sponsorship consulting, sponsorship training, and strategy sessions. Please drop me a line to discuss.

Kim Skildum-Reid
AU: +61 2 9559 6444
US: +1 612 326 5265


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