Sponsorships Won’t Work Unless You Do Your Part

By Laurel Hess, Account Executive, Foster Marketing

It’s 8:30 p.m. and I’ve been standing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s Stadium Club on the 300 Level for more than two hours. Recently renovated, Anheuser Busch has held the sponsorship rights to the room for several years. In previous years the Bud Light logo was projected on the wall but with a bevy of high-profile events on the horizon, Anheuser Busch was eager to maximize this sponsorship opportunity. Discussed is changing the fascia of the bar from its painted stripe design to the beer maker’s trademark blue condensation pattern. I silently applaud Anheuser Busch’s persistence to maximize its sponsorship dollars. Anheuser Busch knows something many potential sponsors fail to realize: You have to work your sponsorship in order to get the most out of it. When it comes to sponsorships, the rule is: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Why Sponsorships?

Sponsorships are a great way to launch a brand and to be seen as a major player in the marketplace. They are also great for community outreach and a way to boost your level of interaction through social media and dialogue within the community. Why is Bud Light so pervasive in sporting arenas? They have a strong sponsorship plan that grants them high-profile visibility in sporting facilities and aids their brand recognition efforts. If you’ve been staring at a Bud Light sign for long enough, sooner or later you’re getting up for that beer.

You can also leverage your sponsorships in your company’s advertising and social media program to engage with the marketplace, giving you reasons to reach out and post non-sales related messaging. For example, if you’re sponsoring your local sports team and you tweet about an upcoming game or recent win, you will most likely get re-tweets or more followers, boosting your visibility.

What’s the Real Return on Investment?

One of the thorns of sponsorship marketing is the difficulty to track ROI. Since sponsorship is mostly a public relations and brand awareness initiative, there are not as many tangible impressions to track or dollars/purchases to follow. So, how can one effectively track sponsorship ROI? The easiest answer is that you can’t — at least, not without room in your budget for multiple tracking surveys and other efforts — and even this could miss some gains.

If you plan to dip your toes into the world of sponsorship marketing, it would be foolish to jump in without a concrete plan to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Setting benchmarks and using follow-up surveys ensures that you spend wisely and allows you to make informed changes to your sponsorship campaign in years to come.

Why Do I Have to Track My Return When the Sponsorship Provider is Already Watching Impressions?

Can’t I just rely on the team/sponsorship entity to track for me? Aren’t their measurements good enough? Not if your brand is relatively unknown in the market.

Say you sponsor a sign at a stadium. The team tells you that you can get 250,000 impressions per game if you sponsor the sign next to the jumbotron. More than 2 million impressions per season sounds pretty good; however, if you are not quite as established, time and work will be required to eventually see this type of impact.

For example, if you are Coca-Cola, this opportunity makes sense and hitting 2 million impressions in a season is attainable — people will see your brand and it will register in their minds from the first preseason game.

If you’re Jim Bob’s Cola with little to no brand awareness at the start of the season, the recognition will not be there right away. Your impressions will grow over time as your brand name is out there but you won’t be hitting the promised 250,000-impression impact early on.

To get a true measure of sponsorship impact, we suggest doing a benchmark survey at the start of the season or sponsorship and then a survey at the conclusion to see how much your brand recognition grew as a direct result of the sponsorship. This way you can determine if sponsorship dollars are well spent and if you should continue or upgrade your deal.

Five Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Sponsorship:

  • Bigger isn’t always better: A well-placed logo on a program or scoreboard that’s often checked by patrons may increase visibility and repeated views over another location.
  • Non-traditional sponsorship opportunities: Look beyond the typical sponsorship placements for unique outlets. Perhaps that large sign by the jumbotron is out of your price range but instead you can put your logo on all of the stadium’s beverage cups if you pay for the inventory
  • Change the message/look or position each year: Patrons will become blind to your brand if you never move or change it. They will get used to seeing you in the same place or with the same message and they will cease to see it. If you are in a prime position, change the color or message each season/year so the patrons have something fresh to register. If you have the ability, move your messaging each season so patrons have another chance at seeing it and registering it.
  • Milk it for all it’s worth: Incorporating “Proud Sponsor of:” on your advertising and engaging fans via your social media outlets and website can start a dialogue and also support your sponsorship money. If a patron sees “Proud Sponsor of:” on your ad and then goes to the game, they are more likely to recognize and register your signage.
  • Take responsibility for tracking: Don’t rely on the sponsorship venue or event coordinator to give you a true impression count or ROI on your sponsorship. They often have blanket numbers and apply them across the board. The truth is Jim Bob’s Cola and Coca-Cola will not have the same rate of impressions and return on investment.

Sponsorships are a great way to boost your brand awareness in the marketplace, but you may be missing out on real gains if you aren’t working your sponsorship plan, measuring your efforts and cross promoting these efforts in your advertising, marketing and online campaigns. A few well spent dollars can bring eyeballs to your name and lend credibility to your brand.

If you’re interested in identifying potential sponsorships for your business or making the most out of your current sponsorship initiatives,Foster Marketing is here to help. Click to contact Foster MarketingAccount Executive Laurel Hess.