Sponsorship and how to find the right partner
To develop a year-round sponsorship strategy that lasts beyond the summer, follow these eight steps
The festival season has really kicked off with the longer summer days. There is no end to the choice of things to do and places to go around the country, from music festivals to street carnivals. And because they all cost money, commercial sponsors are key to the success of almost all events. I attended Taste of Dublin recently and despite the rain, I thoroughly enjoyed the corporate entertainment.
For corporate sponsors, it's not just about summertime events. Sponsorship as a marketing pillar is for all year round, and some brands are reaping the rewards of being connected with significant assets or partners.
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Behind the scenes, however, was a very disciplined approach to making the decision to collaborate with this event. Sponsorship is a sophisticated marketing discipline that needs careful consideration.
I met with Daragh Persse, the founder of The Brand Fans, who consults mainly for sponsors.
"The most powerful attribute of any sponsorship and the key to delivering impactful campaigns is relevance. Relevance is the critical ingredient and differentiator in a cluttered market when a brand is looking to deliver an authentic and genuine voice to consumers," he said.
This is his specialist area, and today he shares his advice on how to plan for the best outcome.
TIPS TO DEVELOP A SPONSORSHIP STRATEGY
To ensure a balanced and proactive approach to securing the most relevant and impactful sponsorship with the best return on investment, consider these points.
1. SPONSORSHIP OBJECTIVE
What is the role of sponsorship for you? Is it to drive awareness, engage a particular audience, launch a product, or change perceptions? This is the 'why' that comes before the 'what' and 'how'.
Who are you trying to engage with? Where are they? What are their preferences and passion points, consumption habits, etc?
3. SPONSORSHIP PILLARS
This is core to what is needed from a sponsorship. These are big-picture items that the sponsorship must deliver.
For example, you might say that the sponsorship has to be in sport or music, or have high levels of engagement on social media. These will be underpinned by some mandatories, such as you might need access to content, tickets to engage customers, category exclusivity, multi-territory rights or VIP access.
4. FINDING THE IDEAL PARTNER
This proactive approach gives a very clear brief and prevents the risk of generic opportunities based on emotion and personal interests.
5. CONSIDER THE RIGHTS YOU NEED, RATHER THAN THE RIGHTS YOU ARE OFFERED
All good sponsorship proposals will have a comprehensive set of rights. Work with the partner to create a set of rights that are linked to the objectives and the audience, to ensure relevance and value. Take time to start with a clean sheet. Find a set of rights that is equitable for the sponsor and the partner.
6. INTERNAL BUY-IN
Engage all relevant internal stakeholders before the deal is done. The best sponsorship campaigns rely on fully integrated support and activation through all channels.
You will need their support later, so take the time to understand the rights and access they are going to need to deliver on the business ambition.
The best sponsorships are sweated with all assets through all relevant channels.
Ideally, if the brand can also sprinkle a little bit of magic with some disruptive creativity, then the chance of success will be greatly improved.
At the House-Event, Sonas Bathrooms ran a competition for interior designers which was voted on by the public.
That secured a high level of interaction with the exhibition stand and, therefore, the brand.
8. EVALUATE AND GO AGAIN
Sponsorship agreements are often long-term for a reason. Set stretch goals and commit to partnerships that make a difference in the long term.
THE LAST WORD
To be reminded of the need for a clear strategy, take a look at two sectors.
Alcohol brands invest heavily in sponsorship. However, they are also very cognisant of the need to promote responsible drinking from a health and social behaviour perspective.
Both Heineken and Diageo have partnered with festivals and sport to promote responsible drinking, with 0pc alcohol products and the need to stay hydrated.
Formula One attracts a massive global TV audience, but how will the organisation and sponsors deal with the rising tide of concern about climate change and carbon footprints?
Calculating return on investment is essential. Continuous evaluation and working in true partnership with the rights holder will help your brand find that sweet spot and ultimately cut through in a cluttered market.
Alan O'Neill, author of Premium is the New Black, is Managing Director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to www.kara.ie
Sunday Indo Business