Making your sponsorship work harder for you
Candy, CR Smith and Sanderson. All extremely successful brands in their own right, but for any 90s football fan they will forever be remembered for taking pride of place on some truly iconic football shirts.
Whilst the brands mentioned above had some incredible sponsorships (Liverpool, Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday in that order, in case you were wondering), even today I couldn’t tell you what those companies did, or what products they sold. Historically, it’s been a problem that sponsors have struggled with – sports sponsorship gives your brand huge exposure to a wide audience, but little in terms of engaging with consumers and educating them about your brand.
But that was the 90s, before brands had chance to utilise social media as a platform to engage with audiences directly.
Fast forward to today and with sport sponsorships considered to be worth $40bn worldwide in 2015, according to IEG, brands are in the strongest position in decades to make their sponsorships work harder for them, to ensure a greater ROI for their marketing efforts.
Combine that with the findings from the same IEG research, which found that social media is now the most important communication channel used to activate brands’ sponsorship, with nine out of 10 sponsors utilising Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc. to attract and reach new audiences. It’s never been easier for brands to highlight their sponsorships on social media to engage with their consumers directly and help grow their online social community.
And brands’ social media strategies are working too, with 61% of businesses surveyed in the same report said their ROI on sponsorship increased since using social media as the prime channel to implement sponsorship campaigns. This success has also led to 66% of companies considering new sponsorships.
Sports sponsorship is a unique way of creating a personal relationship with your audience, who are already emotionally involved with the sport. So it’s crucial for brands to tap into this emotional connection by sharing, and understanding, the highs and lows that come with being a fan. But it’s also important to recognise the huge opportunity your brand has to become famous for all the right reasons. Just imagine if your sponsorship asset wins competitions; your brand could become part of an iconic sporting moment that will last forever.
That’s easier said than done, we know. And the chance for brands to be part of these iconic sporting moments doesn’t come cheap. But for slightly smaller sponsorships or official partnerships, there are lots of ways to highlight your sponsorship to new audiences to positively influence them to act or think differently about your brand.
After working on sponsorship campaigns for the likes of Johnnie Walker and McLaren Mercedes, and Harrogate Spring Water and England Cricket, as well as dealing with sponsors such as BMW and Nespresso for the 2014 Ryder Cup, here’s a few tips I’ve learnt over the years that could help you maximise your sponsorship.
1. Identify your channels
Start with your audiences, existing and target. Understand who they are, what social channels they use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) and what they want.
2. Set your objectives
Understand if you simply want to create mass awareness about your sponsorship, increase brand loyalty amongst a particular audience or change or reinforce brand image. Once you’ve established your overall objective you can begin to start planning your content, tailored to your channels.
3. Maximise your assets
Make the most of what you have, both in terms of your own content but also by maximising your contract with your team/event. By having a clear understanding of what content you’d like to create and the ways you’d like to engage your audience, you can negotiate to ensure you have the right assets (tickets, merchandise, images and video rights) and accessibility to ambassadors (for social media, attendance and availability for video and images) which will allow you to create match-winning content.
4. Engage fans in new and innovative ways
Offer insight to the unseen world of sport with exclusive video content. Captivate fans’ attention by giving them then chance to experience what life is like for a professional athlete with virtual reality. Or create unique experiential activities on-site in sports grounds with exclusive experiences for your customers. Do something innovative that will make fans sit up and pay attention to your content.
5. Put yourself in the shoes of fans
What would you want from a brand who had a sponsorship with your favourite sports team? Think like a fan, and your sponsorship activities will be successful.