There is no doubt that sponsorship can be a powerful tool in a brand’s marketing. But how can brands ensure they achieve cut-through when competing brands are also using sponsorship in the same market?
I was speaking to a large and active brand in the sponsorship space recently and the conversation moved onto the challenge of using sponsorship effectively in a crowded market. What was interesting, and impressive, was how they were operating effectively in a crowded market and managing to drive value.
I realised that their approach offered a few lessons that other brands, and even rights holders, who find themselves in similar situations, can benefit from.
The brand is a betting platform who have a property as the official betting partner of a rights holder who runs a national competition.
Their challenge is that whilst they are the official partner of the rights holder, the various venues and broadcast partners of the sport each have their own betting partnerships. As such, this clutters the market and creates multiple conflicts and dilution situations. They even explained a situation, that occasionally occurs, where the broadcast, live footage and screen pull-through’s are all simultaneously displaying competing brands, messaging and calls-to-action. Madness!
Whilst ideally their partnership would be exclusive across all channels OR their rights holder took measures to protect them, this is not always possible through other commercial agreements that need to take place.
On the surface, most brands would run a mile when this situation occurred because it seems like a really stunted opportunity and one that may be ambushed at multiple opportunities.
What was most impressive to me about their approach was how the brand was embracing this challenge to achieve sponsorship cut-through when conflicts occur.
What they are doing
There are four things they do, and do really well, that helps deliver cut-through and success.
1. Focus on objectives
Their objectives are different to most other agencies in that brand exposure isn’t high on their agenda. Their objectives are more around community engagement, building an audience and qualified leads.
2. Have a unique view
This brand has a really unique understanding around how advertising works. They form the view that, although they are in conflicting situations, brand recognition and realisation will be higher with those consumers who are already familiar with and engaged with the brand through other means than simply at a venue or via broadcast.
3. Play to strengths
One of the key differentiators of this brand is their content, engagement and communication plan. They even have a fully equipped studio in their office – such is their commitment and prowess in the content space. As such, the rights they seek include creating TV shows, weekly video content and consumer engagement opportunities using these channels so that when they secure a lead, their communication is high and results in better engagement.
4. Strong relationships
Because of this conflict, their relationship with their rights holder is even more important and together they are constantly working on new opportunities to drive value. They focus on true partnerships rather than short-term transactional sponsorships.
Long Term Success
Outside of approaches above, and their impressive attitude to this situation, there is another reason why this brand will be successful and it dawned when they shared an idea that can help everyone.
This brand has an authentic interest in the sport and the audience. As such, their idea doesn’t involve more gambling advertising but, instead, less gambling advertising.
They think that less advertising, for a single provider, would be healthier for the audience and create better engagement for the right customers. More-over, the advertising space this approach would free up could be used to compensate the venues/broadcasters for their loss in revenue in this space.
For me, this is a socially responsible, collaborative and authentic approach and one that displays a true understanding of what makes a great partnership.
Even in crowded markets, with competing brands, at multiple levels, sponsorship can still b effective. It just needs some clear thinking.
Mark Thompson // Managing Director
Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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