Rightsholders: Please Stop Doing Audience Division

Sponsorship Seekers: Please Stop Doing Attendee Division“We’re projecting attendance of over 17,000. With your $20,000 sponsorship, that means you can reach all of them for just over a dollar each.”

“We anticipate our project will get over a million and a half impressions. At $50,000, your sponsorship costs less than four cents per impression!”

To a novice, these might seem like perfectly reasonable sales equations, but in the real world of skyrocketing sponsor sophistication, this approach gets it wrong in several different ways:

CPM is not an appropriate measure for sponsorship

CPM (cost-per-thousand) is one of the metrics used for comparing the relative cost of various types of advertising and some other marketing media (eg, direct marketing). Unfortunately for people who apply this approach to sponsorship sales, sponsorship and advertising work in totally different ways, and CPM or similar simply doesn’t apply.

Advertising is a one-way communication. Sponsorship is a powerful platform for deepening brand relevance and relationships through the leverage of fan passions. It’s not one way; it works in as many different directions as the sponsor needs it to work. Talking about sponsorship in the same way other media are talked about makes as much sense as sending a telegram when you have a smartphone in your hand.

It’s about who cares, not who rocks up

If you’ve got 17,000 attendees and want $20,000, those numbers may seem sensible. But what if you only get 200 people to attend? Does that mean it’s only worth $235? Of course not!

A sponsor’s results come from leveraging the sponsorship to everyone who cares about your property or the larger themes, not just the people who show up or follow you. That could be many, many times your audience, meaning that when you’re doing audience division, you’re vastly underestimating the potential power of the sponsorship.

For more on this, see “It’s Not the Size of the Sponsorship, It’s What You Do with It”.

It’s NEVER about impressions

Impressions are about how many people will see marketing for your property, which is generally extrapolated into how many people will see a major sponsor logo as part of the marketing or media coverage of the property. Unfortunately, the value of eyeballs on logos was soundly debunked in the early 90s, providing exactly zero impact on changing perceptions or behaviours around a brand.

Don’t do impression division, don’t count impressions, don’t even talk about impressions. It makes you look ridiculous.

What you should do instead?

It’s about brands connecting with their target markets in a powerful, meaningful way, engendering greater alignment, preference, loyalty, and advocacy. If you’re not talking about that stuff, you’re not a compelling sponsorship option.

Sponsorship stopped being about visibility decades ago. It’s now squarely about meaning. It’s about brands connecting with their target markets in a powerful, meaningful way, engendering greater alignment, preference, loyalty, and advocacy. If you’re not talking about that stuff, you’re not a compelling sponsorship option.

Instead of trying to make some kind of attendee division metric look attractive, concentrate on creating an offer that addresses the following:

  • Clearly lay out the meaning of your organisation or what you’re doing to the fans. Why do people care? Why is what you’re doing different to the other options for fans?
  • Fan segmentation by psychographics. That sounds complicated, but it’s not. Just segment your fans by the primary reasons they care about the property. If you’re a team, is their primary motivation their love for the team itself? The tribal atmosphere of the game? The social occasion with their friends? Something else? This blog will help a lot with psychographics.
  • An overview of your marketing plan. How do you nurture your relationship with these fans?
  • Creative ideas for leverage. This is the number one most important part of your offer! How could the sponsor use this investment? What could they do with what you’re offering to achieve their objectives and get closer to the fans? For a sponsor, this is the real “what’s in it for me” moment.
  • Fully customised benefits list, including all of the benefits they will need to carry out the leverage ideas you’ve given them.

I know that’s short, but this is just a blog. For the whole methodology of offer development and formalising a proposal, including a template, I suggest you pick up a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition. You may also be interested in Sponsorship Proposal Basics in About 15 Minutes (video tutorial). I’ve also got a self-paced, online sponsorship training course, covering the whole sales process, with lots of inclusions. Interested? Check out Getting to “Yes”.

Need more assistance?

You may also 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, 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.

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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