Remember Kodak? The company that failed because it refused to integrate with others who could help them evolve? Well, Kodak reminds me of some sponsorship professionals I know.
Sponsorship professionals are some of the most diverse and capable commercial minds in any rights holder organisation. They are, however, also some of the least likely people to seek help when they need it.
In recent times we have had some conversations with people who clearly need help in various areas. They need help not because they are bad at their job but because, for a variety of reasons, help would bring them so much more success than they can possibly achieve on their own.
It is said that “You don’t know what you don’t know” so I thought I’d outline what help is out there and the signs you might need help.
Three categories of help
To keep things simple, I have broken down the different duties within a sponsorship professional’s role that, if required, specialist help is available and has provided some excellent results for others.
The interesting thing I see, is that the biggest and best rights holders in the world ALL use external help in one area or more yet, for some reason, be it financial, insecurity or something else, challenger rights holders do all they can to avoid it.
The three categories that you can obtain help in are:
1. Training and Resourcing
There are two sayings which ring true in any business function – “Spending money on up-skilling your staff is an investment which will return many times over” and “It takes money to make money”. These two sayings ring true in sponsorship just like they do in any other business function.
High staff turn-over can be crippling for sponsor relations. It creates static sales environments and impacts significantly on team culture. If you have a relatively high turn-over of staff, or have staff which have remained in their current roles for a long time, having the same results year-on-year, it would pay to invest in up-skilling them.
There are many professional development activities you can undertake to freshen up yourself and your staff, as well as helping create loyalty from your staff, whilst driving a return. Some of those are:
- Mentoring programs with renowned industry leaders.
- External training programs, focussing on developing specific skill sets.
- Online resources (helping to identify and provide quality information and techniques to move with the times).
2. Acquisition and Fulfilment
Some organisations really struggle with finding appropriate partners, using the correct techniques to source and complete sales and activating & fulfilling to drive commercial returns. The reasons for this are often either resource, time or money pressures. However, finding the right help in these areas can really drive immediate commercial returns that you would otherwise be unable to see.
Specific assistance is available through agencies. There are multiple agencies out there that help with a whole bunch of really good stuff. It is important to know that sales agencies often differ from those who can help activate and fulfil. In my opinion, the best use of agencies comes with the internal support they can provide in terms of data, statistics and strategy. This will give you the tools to effectively sell and report on current or prospective partnerships.
This is the emerging field in sponsorship and comes in many forms. Technology really is the tool that helps organisations create more time by reducing inefficient processes, advances their organisation to new heights through otherwise un-achievable tasks and provide greater insights. Some of the most effective forms of technology are:
- Social Media and targeting technology which is becoming a highly used and successful tool in sales prospecting.
- Audience monitoring and tracking technology to help track achievement specific sponsor goals.
- Digital presentation technology to present professional and time effective reports.
- End-to-end program management technology to improve efficiency, increase governance and drive real commercial returns.
Jumping the Hurdle
It is true; all help costs money. That’s why you might be thinking that you can’t afford it. However, in the ever-increasing pressure in the sponsorship industry, the ever-pressing question is “Can we afford not to?”
All good help will come with a compelling business case and putting that case into a commercial return and selling that internally is the challenge. That is why, in my opinion, help should be directed at the areas of biggest pain and areas where quickest gains can be found.
For what it’s worth – I would invest in technology every day of the week!
So, looking back at Training & Resourcing, Acquisition & Fulfilment and Technology, what help do you need?
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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