Sponsorship is first and foremost a business relationship between two organizations with different goals. Aligning objectives to deliver greater value for both partners builds the relationship into a true alliance that can generate powerful results for both parties.
In the current industry, there is a 55% satisfaction level with ROI. However, that means a dissatisfaction rate of 45%, and that is an incredibly high figure. As well, 41% of sponsors are looking to drop their current sponsorships and jump ship.
The number one key to sponsorship renewal efforts is a healty sponsor-sponsee relationship, but this relationship typically does not get much attention. The quality of the relationship is a pre-requisite. There are times when a sponsor could be in the right sport but working with the wrong partner.
Partnerships must be a true fit between sponsor and sponsee and, although function fit and consumer fit are important, so is the business-to-business relationship. True value to the property comes when partners have shared goals and can strengthen the relationship. Then, if growth is satisfactory, the efforts injected into the planning and negotiation around activations will slowly decrease over time, as the relationship builds.
Three key factors to alliance marketing are engagement, trust and communication. Alliances are relationships and both sides have to give and be proactive, bringing activation concepts forward. Trust builds over time. Year one is the learning period. And most importantly, communication must take place throughout the whole year, not just during the activation period.
However, this relationship is a balancing act. There usually is a dominant in this relationship, and that usually is the side with the money: the sponsor.
How can we identify what each side of the partnership has to focus on to maintain a healthy relationship?
Best practices for properties:
- Make sponsorship your core business;
- Define marketing objectives;
- Speak the same language as the sponsor;
- Be proactive and anticipate the needs of the sponsor;
- Build on success.
Best practices for sponsors:
- Share objectives with your sponsee;
- Share any non-confidential information – it is all valuable;
- Don’t try to squeeze the lemon out of your properties;
- Think long term.
A well-managed relationship will bring in more value to both parties, and they will ultimately be able to work together to engage fans in the community.