It used to be that 99% of sponsorship proposals were made up of the following four or five benefits:
- Logos on things
- Tickets to things
- Some kind of hospitality
- An official designation
- Some kind of exhibition space or speaking slot (if applicable)
The result was that hundreds of thousands of amazing properties were commoditising themselves; selling themselves as a numbers game, and ignoring their real value to sponsors. (For more on how modern sponsorship really works, read my white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship”.)
In recent years, another benefit has joined that list of low-value, hygiene benefits:
- Social media mentions
I’ve worked with a lot of rightsholders that have told me how this has given them “more inventory to sell”, and how it “modernises” their offers. Yeah… no. This approach doesn’t modernise an offer any more than carbon fibre modernises a flip phone.
Social media is not just another sign to sell
Social media is a powerful tool, and when paired with a best practice sponsorship, can anchor amazing results for your sponsors and your fans. But, when you sell guaranteed mentions on your social media, you’re using it as just another place to put an ad, a logo, some tagline, or a forgettable “thank you”. It’s not really a new benefit at all, just the same old, low-value, easily-ignored visibility, on a new platform.
You’re selling out your fans
Come on, people. We’re all on social media, and we all follow at least a few teams or charities or events or whatever. How much attention do you pay to posts thanking various sponsors for their support? How much do you appreciate when sponsor ad after sponsor ad comes across your feed, all shared by the property you follow? Yeah, I don’t like it, either, and this is entirely the point.
You need to put yourselves into the fans’ shoes. Stop trying to package their experience to sell, because they’ll resent you and the sponsor, if you do. Sure, some sponsors might do amazing things with the social platform you can offer, but what about the ones that don’t? Mentions don’t discriminate. You’re giving them the platform whether they do anything meaningful or not.
Don’t ever sell a benefit that disrespects or diminishes their fan experience. Don’t ever sell a benefit that describes your fans as a “captive audience”. And don’t ever, ever, ever sell a benefit that makes your fans feel like a commodity you’re selling, and not the passionate lifeblood of your organisation.
Meaningless sponsor mentions are all of the above.
Work with sponsors on their social media leverage strategy
Let’s face it. You may have dozens of sponsors, plus your own marketing priorities. What a sponsor is going to be able to accomplish through your platform likely pales in comparison to the impact of leveraging the sponsorship across their own social media platform, and helping them see that is in your best interest.
You should be including ideas in all sponsorship proposals for how sponsors can use their own social media channels to increase alignment and add value to your fans. You should be working with current sponsors to understand your fans, their motivations and priorities, their favourite things and their least favourite things about the fan experience, their passions. And you should be helping them see how they can use all of that to create powerful, meaningful leverage through their own social media channels.
Give meaningful sponsor leverage the platform it deserves
If a sponsor is adding value to the fan experience, or doing something really innovative, through their own channels, give them all the social media love that they deserve.
Seriously, if you’re like most rightsholders, you do one after another fan promotions, and many of them are doing little more than filling promotional space. Replace those lame promotions with genuinely meaningful sponsor leverage. It will do more for your fans and your property, and provide added value to a sponsor, and give an incentive to your less active sponsors to up their games.
If you absolutely must include some kind of social media mentions in a sponsorship, keep them to the absolute, barest minimum. But also make it clear that any leverage undertaken by the sponsor that genuinely adds value to the fan experience will be shared and promoted as much as appropriate. Bonus points if you can point to an example of a great leverage program, which was supported very heavily in your social media.
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.
If you could use some additional support, I provide sponsorship coaching, sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, and sponsorship training. If you’re interested in any of these services, please review the materials and drop me a line to discuss:
AU: +61 2 9559 6444
US: +1 612 326 5265
© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. For republishing information see Blog and White Paper Reprints.
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