So you are a brand and for the first time you are thinking about signing up to a sponsorship package as a way to generate positive awareness for your product. You have realised that by getting involved in such a sponsorship that it may well help to create interest amongst a whole new new target customer base, but you are unsure as to what the ideal sponsorship should offer.
What are the ingredients essential to a successful sponsorship?
Sponsorship is an ideal way for brands to be matched up with their target customers. It can also provide an ideal opportunity for brands to reach out to new demographics particularly if they are re-branding, re-focussing on new developing new customers or if they need to expand on their product offering. The rules of sponsorship, however, have changed and whereas in the past a sponsor may well have been the only brand involved with sponsoring, say, a football team or a national awards scheme, today there may well be a number of other sponsors involved and this can create confusion in the minds of the consumer.
The biggest challenge facing companies today who agree to get involved with commercial sponsorship is to ensure that the company, its brand, its marketing campaigns and brand values are clearly communicated to the target audience, which is provided through the sponsorship deal.
Organisations, which seek sponsors need to play fair and all too often they can fail to take into account how they can provide real benefits to their potential sponsor. While the sponsor may be selective in choosing the right fight for their investment, the organisation seeking sponsorship may well be in a hurry to seek urgent funding to ensure that their project gets off the ground. This is where the communication breaks down.
Tips for companies considering sponsorship
Know your target consumer and be absolutely clear about your target demographic audience especially if you are trying to recruit new fans of your brand. Do your research first and establish whether or not this sponsorship deal will give you access to a customer base you need to speak with. Make sure you align your brand values with the target audience you intend to reach out in the sponsorship and ask yourself the questions:
- Will my brand be seen to be a good corporate citizen as a result?
- Will this sponsorship bring positive associations for the brand and will it ignite new interest?
- What benefits can your brand bring to the target audience which the sponsorship partner has access to as part of the proposed sponsorship package?
If you are a coffee brand, for example, sponsoring a short story awards scheme it is no use simply position your brand of coffee in written material you have to involve your brand in a real way. Instead of simply pushing your brand in their faee could you, instead, say offer them a series of free workshops presented by well known authors as part of the offer? You have to think of the new market you are reaching and ensure that they benefit from their association with your brand.
The most important question for sponsorship is, however, to establish what kind of sponsorship deal are you being offered. If you are a title sponsor – will your brand be embedded in the title of the sponsorship. If not then you are not a title sponsor. Read the proposal carefully and look at the history of the sponsorship if it is already established. Consider the branding involved and how your company logo, mission statement will be treated through public signage, radio or other broadcast mediums and ensure that your designers are involved with any final corporate livery to be signed off. Ask what other sub-sponsors, if any, are involved as this could have far reaching implications for your brand and its ability to position itself in any communications agreed. Ask to see the marketing plan for the sponsorship, find out who is responsible for promoting the event/project and establish whether or not you have any say in how these communications are imparted. Last, but not least, ask to be introduced to the organising committee and establish if there are any conflicts of interest because once the sponsorship deal is signed you could be tied into a contract for three years which may have a number of hidden limitations.
Once you know the rules then a sponsorship, if it’s the right fit, can reap rewards for your brand and be used as the perfect platform to gain new friends and win new customers.
By Mary McGovern