Summit, Conference, Convention … whatever label we give them, these types of events can provide us with a really rewarding experience. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Sponsorship Summit – New Zealand, in Auckland. As I boarded the plane back home to Australia, I pondered the big-ticket items I took away from this year’s event.
With a myriad of brands from the region, and a huge variety of rights holders from sports, arts, charities, and government, this was a fantastic opportunity to engage with all levels of stakeholders involved in sponsorship in New Zealand. After two days of fantastic speakers, great networking breaks, and some cliché New Zealand weather, there were five key takeaways for me.
1. Collaboration within the region is key
Kiwis and Aussies should be working together on a variety of levels and on a multitude of scales. We have so much in common, not just culturally, but also regarding our desire and willingness to be world leaders in the commercial partnership space.
We have common goals and we face common challenges. Whether it be wanting to bring a commercial partner and a charity partner together to create an outstanding and long-lasting legacy (thank you NZOC and NZPC); wanting to create an outstanding event with deeply engaging activations (thank you DB Export and Quantum Events); or simply the challenge of identifying the best partner to work with in expanding markets such as Asia (thank you Sydney FC), we all have areas we can work together on.
2. No matter the industry, we can all learn from each other
With a variety of rights holders in the room, sports at all levels, charities, arts organisations and government stakeholders, we heard from a variety of perspectives on the challenges and opportunities within sponsorship.
We have all heard the comment “But we are different”. Sure, our industries may involve a different form of ‘entertainment’ or different sense of ‘achievement’, however, there were so many excellent opportunities to share best practice initiatives across industries that this sense of ‘difference’ should not lead to people saying “That won’t work for us”.
Whether it be how to create a meaningful activation, or how to be creative across digital, all the above-listed industries brought some excellent lessons with them to the Summit.
3. Rights holders still need to have the tools to draw key information out of brands
We had the perfect room and setting for some meaningful discussions between rights holders and brands. However, the onus was still placed upon the rights holders to be able to ask the right questions, identify the key objectives of a brand and make a genuine one-on-one connection with the brand before they might give the ‘Key to the Gates’.
Just because a brand representative has turned up to a conference, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are there to be pitched to or even that they are likely to give you the hot tip on how best to put together a proposal for them.
Using this event to create meaningful relationships, identify key common points of interest and then ensuring a memorable interaction, you enable yourself to then be able to take the next step in drawing out key information.
4. Digital is the sleeping giant of sponsorship
There are so many opportunities to activate a sponsorship on a variety of levels using digital assets; we have only scratched the surface of this. Both brands and rights holders in New Zealand (and Australia for that matter) are open to new opportunities and willing to be creative in the digital space. Whether it be better use of Snapchat, some fantastic digital photography used in activation videos, or even just capturing customer data in a more engaging fashion, both brands and rights holders want to be innovators and world leaders in the digital space.
5. Size doesn’t always matter
We saw some fantastic examples of brands utilising sponsorship benefits in a really creative and engaging way. These activations, content creation, or branding pieces didn’t necessarily cost the world, and most of the time the brand wasn’t the largest in their sector, but they were able to use the available assets in a really effective way. If you get a chance, for some great examples, Google what ASB and KiwiBank have done recently in the sponsorship space.
The same goes for rights holders. A local event company, and a regional council, were able to create huge cut-through and over-achieve on brand objectives by being creative, paying attention to detail, and working with their partners every step of the way. It doesn’t always come down to the size of your budget!
I really enjoyed seeing the sponsorship game from a New Zealander’s perspective but, more importantly, it was great to see how global this whole industry truly is. Thanks to all the great speakers and attendees for making it a positive experience.
Bring on next year!
Sam Irvine // Territory Manager – Australia & New Zealand
Sam is passionate about helping organisations maximise their sponsorship programs and has worked with brands and rights holders at all levels. Sam is always looking for ways to improve himself and loves working with people who give as much as they take.
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