We were recently speaking with a Silicon Valley-based CMO who told us that they were doing a rebrand with substantial investment but that neither their branding agency nor their media buying agency had suggested sponsorship as a vehicle they should consider as part of their marketing mix. This struck us as odd.
Sponsorship has come into its own in the past decade with many of the top tech companies including SAP and Microsoft using it as a powerful element in their market positioning and customer communication. Sponsorship continues to grow because it works.
It is the umbrella under which so many other aspects of company communication can be delivered. Not only various aspects of marketing such as digital, advertising, experiential, point-of-sale, PR and social but also in employee communications and recruitment.
Sponsorship is not just for the big guys though. There are many growth, challenger brands in B2B and B2C markets for whom sponsorship would be a perfect tool as a result of the multiple ways in which it can be exploited across the business.
It doesn’t have to be an expensive, headline sponsorship. Lower level partnerships with a large value-in-kind element can be both powerful and a cost-effective strategy. The key is integrating the proposition into the sponsorship in order to ensure it is relevant for your audiences.
By integrating a company’s products and/or services into a team or a Championship, it creates a level of excitement and interest that is different to your regular B2B clients such as banks, manufacturing, retail etc. Of course, reference customers in those spaces are great to have but gaining marketing assets and rights that can be leveraged to tell a story to provide multiple times the return is where the smart money is being invested.
Brands are typically seeing a 20% uplift in engagement on social channels when content is associated with sport. At SQN, one of our clients gets more than three times as much engagement – yes 3x – on sponsorship related content. This is still related to the core offering, it’s just that it also tells the story of how the offering is supporting the sport.
Advertising talks at people. Sponsorship creates an emotional connection with them and engages on multiple levels, giving you leverage across the whole marketing mix, delivering direct benefits and multiplying other investments to drive revenue, strengthen relationships and enhance reputations.
This is why we think it is odd that the brand and media agencies are not highlighting how powerful sponsorship can be. Unless of course, they have a vested interest.
By the way, the use of IBM in the image is not suggesting that they aren’t one of the big guys, but that they have demonstrated how to leverage and develop a sporting technology showcase over many years with all four Grand Slam tennis championships.