Earlier this month I attended what is a global highlight on the calendar of any sports business professional – Leaders, The Sport Business Summit. There were many great speakers and even more great (and late) networking opportunities. Three key learnings really stood out and hit home for me.
Of-course, being a sponsorship professional, my favourite talk was sponsorship focused and discussed the motives and expertise shown by Olympic Sponsors around why they sponsor major events and how they get the most out of event sponsorship.
Before I get into my big three key learnings, I must confess that, just like a lot of people out there, sometimes event sponsorship confuses me and I get very lost in the analysis of what makes it work, what makes a good fit and even what makes a good activation.
That is why I think these three key learnings fit directly into what we always speak about at SponServe and how you can align yourself, as a brand, with a rights holder who can help you achieve your objectives.
1. Objectives Should Include Both Sponsorship and Supply
This is a key advantage that event sponsorship offers, over other direct property sponsorship, and its important in the eyes of those sponsors who I spoke to at Leaders that these objectives and subsequent rights include both event and consumer opportunities; hence the sponsorship and supply differentiation.
2. Product category is an important upfront conversation
A key conversation, which all good event partners have with their rights holder, is around product category. Some may think that having a broad product category is better for a brand, as it provides the opportunity to lock out all perceived and real competitors, however, the opposite is true for those who do it well.
Activating a specific product category, such as ‘Handheld Personal Device Partner’ rather than ‘Technology Partner’, helps the brand focus on activation and engagement in that specific area and with a specific and clearly defined product category.
3. Activate differently in different markets
With large scale global events you get access to different consumer markets. The key thing to remember here is that a brand’s activation should be tailored to the consumer habits of different markets and, just as importantly, consider the capabilities of local offices to activate.
Setting separate activation goals and activities for different markets gives a brand the best opportunity for success by gearing the resources and goals around an achievable activation plan which is focussed on both the external and internal goals of the partnership.
Another key factor in splitting markets is that host markets are far more likely to have longer term engagement and anticipation around an event. On the other hand, visiting or external markets will only have high levels of engagement immediately before and during an event – thus creating very different activation and engagement opportunities for a sponsor.
Values and Flexibility
Overall, there were feelings around the room that all led the discussion and thought leadership towards the above three learnings. Supporting them was continual comments that, before any engagement or partnership is entered, values between a brand and an event rights holder must be aligned so as to allow for a free flowing and successful partnership.
With values aligned, the importance of flexibility was also discussed and seen as critical considering that technology and creative thinking is changing the way sponsorship and the business of sport is conducted.
Events give brands a great platform and audience to launch new products due to both live and broadcast engagement levels and periods. Keeping the above lessons in mind will help brands capitalise on their event sponsorship.
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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