Sponsorship is a fast-growing industry, but how can you exploit its full potential?
The sponsorship industry is at all-time high.
The 2019 MKTG Frontier report, conducted in association with Think! Sponsorship and the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), reported that 50% of its surveyed industry specialists expect the sponsorship industry to continue its upward growth trajectory.
Two-thirds of respondents believe brands are now considering sponsorship as an essential part of the marketing mix.
The perceptions of sponsorship are changing for the better and, so too, are the unquestionable benefits that can be derived when activated correctly.
Gone are the days of sponsorships being a chairman’s whim or marketer’s plaything. When done correctly, with specialist agency support and delivering against clear business metrics, sponsorships can transcend the marketing mix.
At SQN, we have accumulated nearly two decades of experience helping brands to harness the power of sponsorship to deliver against pressing business imperatives. As members of ESA, we keep our fingers on the pulse of sponsorship trends, we are constantly identifying opportunities for companies like yours to reap the rewards.
We’ve outlined six ways you can tap into the power of sponsorship and we’ll be producing bite-sized articles on each of the adjacent areas:
Integrating sponsorship fully into the marketing mix.
2. Changing perceptions through sport.
3. Building employees as brand advocates.
4. Delivering purpose in CSR initiatives.
5. Sponsorship as the ultimate showcase for B2B and tech.
6. Using a specialist agency to extract the full potential from sponsorships.
Integrating sponsorship fully into the marketing mix
Sponsorship has the power to emotionally engage with people in a way that other marketing channels aren’t able to; it enables brands to engage directly and experientially with their target market.
Experiential marketing is just as important and valuable now as it ever has been. With so many channels and platforms available for consumers to access, trying to maintain people’s attention for any period of time is becoming more and more difficult. By connecting with audiences on an experiential level, as sponsorships have the ability to do, you are engaging with them in a deeper, emotional manner, when they are at their most accessible.
Sponsorship should not be viewed as a separate entity of the marketing mix; it has the ability to bundle all of marketing channels together. Unlike other marketing activities, sponsorship can drive global marketing campaigns by encompassing all elements of the mix.
Whereas advertising can be one-dimensional and fulfil limited objectives, a brand/rights-holder partnership generates a story that can be told through many avenues and across many markets.
“I DESCRIBE SPONSORSHIP AS THE MAGIC DUST THAT MARKETING DIRECTORS USE TO SPRINKLE OVER EVERYTHING THEY DO IN BUSINESS; NOT JUST MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS, BUT DIGITAL, CSR, INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS – EVERYTHING THAT MAKES AN ORGANISATION TICK.”Andy Westlake, ESA Chairman
Changing perceptions through sport
ESA last year announced that the sports sponsorship sector has broken through the $20 billion barrier, representing its third successive year of growth.
When you combine sponsorship with sport – a platform that can generate extraordinary stories, and create passionate, emotive responses from its followers – then you end up with a very powerful combination.
Nike is one of the finest examples of a brand doing this to good effect through its sports partnership with Tiger Woods. It has built a synonymous relationship, whereby fans view sport and brand hand-in-hand.
Not only does alignment with a team or athlete introduce your brand to potentially millions of new people from across the world, but it also allows the opportunity to align the brand with the values and attributes of the sponsorship property.
One of the greatest characteristics of a sports fan is their loyalty – to their sport, to their team, to an athlete, to a cause. Provided it is done correctly, a brand has an opportunity to fit into this equation.
A brand logo on the shirt of your favourite team will go so far to raise perception and awareness, but to gain true loyalty the brand has the chance to activate the partnership in a way that adds to the consumers experience and builds a positive
SPORTS SPONSORSHIP REPRESENTS ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS OF REVENUE SPENT IN SPONSORSHIP.
Build employees as brand advocates
Internal employee engagement and the culture building effect of sponsorships, are often overlooked or under-exploited by brands. Sponsorships offer a way of reaching out, engaging your employee base and building your employee value proposition like no other channel.
Employees are the front line in talking to clients, so it is critical they are enthused and aligned with what the business is trying to achieve.
For example Dixons Carphone, winners of the Best Use of Employee Engagement in Sponsorship award in 2019, put employee health and wellbeing at the top of their company objectives. Through a sponsorship of Race to the Stones, a UK based Ultra trail marathon, the company was able to deliver against multiple employee engagement opportunities, to become recognised as Britain’s Healthiest Workplace. Over 1,000 employees have been immersed into the sponsorship, driving an engaged and healthy employee mindset.
“SPONSORSHIPS CAN BE USED TO HELP DRIVE AN ENGAGED EMPLOYEE SET”
Delivering purpose in CSR initiatives
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become particularly prevalent over the past 10 years, so much so that it will now almost certainly feature as part of any global brand’s marketing objectives.
A view of the wider world, and the impact a brand is having on it, is now essential. Brands are under enormous pressure to demonstrate their purpose and commitment to social change.
Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey revealed that a staggering 91% of the generation would change their brand loyalty for one supporting a cause or demonstrating a social conscience. Sponsorship offers a platform by which a brand’s CSR (and purpose) objectives can be fulfilled. Because CSR is about how a company makes its money, not just how it spends it, sponsorship offers the opportunity to align with a property that can create the chance for brands to build their stories.
This is demonstrated with the rise of Formula E. The only electric single-seater motorsport series in the world which has seen companies flock towards it. ABB, the series Title Partner, is using its partnership to ‘support ABB’s commitment to running the world without consuming the earth.’ The sponsorship allows ABB to push its sustainability message and its environmental responsibility via a global platform.
91% OF MILLENNIALS WOULD CHANGE THEIR BRAND LOYALTY FOR ONE SUPPORTING A CAUSE
The ultimate showcase for B2B and tech
Sponsorships are a great way of piquing interest amongst internal stakeholders and employees, and amongst current customers, potential customers and partners. But sponsorships are not just relevant for engaging with these target audiences, they also have the power to develop and enhance business-to-business (B2B) relationships, in ways that don’t exist through any other means.
Not only can a sponsorship provide the possibilities of inviting guests along to unique hospitality opportunities that can allow for networking in an informal setting, but they can act as channel by which to do business with co-sponsors. Whether via joint workshops or co-activations, sponsorships generate a level of access, visibility, alignment and sales opportunities that few other marketing channels are able to achieve.
Where else can consumers and businesses see your technology in action in an environment that is relatable to them?
Sponsorships go beyond traditional marketing routes in that they become product showcases. They are living, breathing demonstrations of a sponsor’s product technology used in a manner that is beneficial to the rightsholder and the fans’ experience of the sport/team/athlete they are supporting.
One sector that exemplifies this better than any, is esports. It is no coincidence that major global brands like SAP, Intel, Microsoft and Samsung are all involved. Esports in particular allows those brands to showcase their products in an experiential environment.
Sponsorships have the power to take products that can be difficult to understand or relate to; they provide a story and clear connection between the sponsor and the rightsholder. It generates interesting case studies and places products in front of brand-new eyes in an easy to understand manner.
Using a specialist agency like SQN to extract full potential
In days gone by, sponsorship has sometimes been seen as rigid, where a client shares how much money they have, and the rights holder tells them what they’ll get for that. Today, the most progressive sponsorships are where both parties work in unison to develop and build a partnership together. This is in the interest of both the rights holder and the sponsor and forges successful, longer-term relationships.
By understanding at the very beginning of a partnership what both parties want to achieve then they can work together to create a bespoke package of rights that fulfil the needs of both. The custom nature of sponsorship means that it works a lot harder than other forms of traditional marketing, generates greater value for money, and goes a long way in achieving pre-set objectives.
Sponsorship has become an incredibly powerful, meaningful and thriving marketing platform. With the development of the industry has come a greater level of intricacy and knowledge about how to successfully plan, manage and activate a sponsorship. It must be treated with the same level of thought-process, meticulous scrutiny and afforded the same specialist expertise as any other marketing channel.
In this respect, sponsorship has become a truly specialised area that requires experience and knowledge to ensure that a brand fully gets the maximum out of any partnership.
We use our understanding and familiarity of the sponsorship industry to ensure that companies get the most out of their investments. We have been working with global brands for nearly 20 years, helping them to build relationships, enhance reputations and drive revenue.
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