If you haven’t already, you should read part 1 of this series where we discuss assessing Return on Investment and Return on Objectives, here.
Sponsorship can feel quite insular. Not many people, on the front line, are willing to share detailed knowledge of how they manage their programs. That’s understandable; it’s a competitive market out there and there isn’t a lot of room for error. For some, the insular feeling is even greater if they compete in a crowded market.
As such, it can be hard to know if you are doing well and if your commercial program is healthy.
In part two, we close out the series by looking at two of the less-tangible elements of a healthy sponsorship program – how to monitor and manage the 1. Relationships element and then 2. The internal elements of your sponsorship program.
Arguably the most important part of any sponsorship manager’s role is to be able to establish, maintain and grow positive and trusting relationships with any partner. There are multiple elements to creating good personal relationships, however, being able to track those things which contribute to and give you an indication of the health of your relationship is vital to knowing where you stand.
The key elements which will have a big impact on this, and which you should be assessing, are:
Q. Do we have the ability to run periodic reports for each relationship?
This is important as it enables you to provide updates, assess utilisation of inventory, plan ahead and most importantly have productive and regular discussions with your partners about their happiness and the success of utilising benefits.
Q. Do we communicate often enough with sponsors through mediums we know they prefer?
The answer to this question will differ from sponsor to sponsor, depending on who they are, what they consider to be enough contact and how important they are to you. The solution though, goes right to the heart of relationships. That is, have you had a conversation to set expectations around how often and how you communicate and are you meeting those shared expectations?
Q. Our sponsor(s) are receptive to suggestions we make on maximising the relationship?
If this is happening, it is a great indication that you are seen as a valuable partner to their business and are trusted enough to add value based on your insights and familiarity. If they take your feedback and implement it, you are well and truly in the partnership zone rather than the transactional zone.
Q. Do our sponsor(s) pro-actively bring ideas to us about how we can maximise the relationship?
This is another key indicator that trust exists within a relationship. Managing and monitoring this behaviour will inform you whether or not you are a key element within their strategy. In turn, it also enables you to develop a deeper insight into how their business is run.
Q. Do we have deeper insights into our sponsor’s business than simply the stated objectives and goals in the contract?
This is the final test of true trust with a sponsor – are you informed of changes, thoughts and happenings within your sponsor’s organisation with enough time to enable you to pivot and react, allowing you to continue to provide relevant value (even as the landscape changes).
This is, as the heading says, an internally measured element which you don’t apply to any sponsor individually but rather across your entire program to assess your ability to manage an effective and always improving sponsorship program. The key elements which will give you an indication as to how healthy your internal structures are:
Q. Is our commercial program growing?
Even if you are just retaining partners, you need to see growth in your program in order to meet the needs of your organisation. A good program will grow year-on-year and this shows you that your acquisition (including renewals with upgrades) are out-numbering your churn numbers (which tells you that you are doing a good job).
Q. Does our commercial program have a diverse portfolio of industries?
Having diversity amongst your partners provides protection against uncontrollable downturns both inside and outside of your organisation. Diversity amongst the industries which partner with you will also allow you to align objectives differently and provide insurance whenever things happen outside of your control.
Q. Is our commercial program as resilient against staff turnover?
Staff turnover and knowledge loss is a common and painful occurrence. Sometimes, this is due to knowledge being retained solely within that staff member’s head or in systems which have been developed and used by that person which only they really know how to use. A healthy organisation is resilient against staff turnover and, in turn, shows consistency and continuity to partners when turnover occurs.
4.4 Value Driven
Q. Is our commercial program resilient against team/organisation performance e.g. wins/losses?
Having partners which are committed despite poor team, organisation or even specific industry performance, shows that you are providing value to your partners despite performance (which is beyond your control). Some of the best partnerships are those which know and achieve their objectives regardless of what happens in other areas of the business.
4.5 Financial Management
Q. Can we track servicing costs and cash flow against individual sponsors?
By general standards, servicing costs of any particular sponsor, and/or your sponsorship program, should be lower than 20% (with this number getting smaller and smaller with ever increasing use of technology-driven value). Sometimes, however, adhoc costs arise and the cash-flow of a business hinges on the income from sponsors. Those organisations with systems in place to help monitor and manage these costs, on an ongoing basis, rather than just at budget review times, are better placed to control them.
HOW TO SELF-ASSESS
Now that we have been through the four areas of health assessment, you can self-assess your own organisation and individual sponsorships by using our self-assessment tool.
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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