I bang on about it all the time; sponsorships are about relationships and creating mutually beneficial partnerships. Nothing reinforces how true this is more than a story I heard the other day.
A colleague told me about a big brand having a discussion with a rights holder they sponsor. Renewal was hanging by a thread and then this conversation happened …
Sponsor: We are just not sure that this sponsorship helps us meet our organisational objectives.
Rights Holder: What are your objectives?
I think my jaw hit the ground.
That one response, right then and there, killed off any opportunity the rights holder may have had in retaining the sponsorship. Note that I deliberately used the word sponsorship there.
Evidently, the objectives of the brand are fairly readily available and what this comment showed the brand was that this was a sponsorship and not a partnership.
Sponsorships As Partnerships
A sponsorship is a one way or transactional relationship which has no real substance or meaning other than that the rights holder gets some much needed cash and the brand gets some benefits to help them promote their business.
These days, brands want more and rights holders need security. That’s why modern day sponsorships are far more than transactional. Instead, they are about finding brands that will be augmented by the values and offerings of a certain rights holder and, more importantly, they are about rights holders knowing how and what is needed to ensure those things provide value to a brand.
That means a partnerships is a mutually beneficial arrangement which helps both parties meet and reach their objectives by working together.
Partnerships are built from the ground up. They start with some honest investigation into whether there is a genuinely good fit between the corporate objectives of the brand and how the rights holder can meet, compliment and ultimately help the brand achieve those objectives.
Good partnerships, where both parties understand the rationale for working together, with the ability to move forward together, are the ones which last the longest. That is what provides a rights holder with security.
Sometimes sponsorships can look good on the surface because they offer a lot of cash. I, however, would take a good partnership over a sponsorship any day; especially if it helps avoid conversations like the one above!
Mark Thompson // 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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