Sports sponsorship is a great marketing tool that can make your company or brand visible and popular, or more popular than it already is.
The visibility that sports sponsorship can offer is indeed immediate (although it clearly depends on many variables, such as the sports property invested in, the space the brand covers, the size of the brand etc.), but not all sponsorships necessarily translate into positive results.
It is always important, before approaching a sports sponsorship, to have or define a clear and precise strategy that will enable you to achieve the marketing, communication or business goals you set at the outset.
If you are a CMO, or an MD or entrepreneur who wants to invest in a sports sponsorship project, then this article is for you.
In fact, in the next few lines I will talk about how to approach a sports sponsorship efficiently, starting with choosing the sports field that is most in line with your brand, moving on to the most appropriate sports property, and finally how to take advantage of all the marketing benefits that a sponsorship project offers you. We will also see what benefits a sponsorship can bring to your brand and how to take advantage of every aspect of it.
In short, the goal is to give you a kind of “guide to success” to best define a proper sports sponsorship strategy.
But let’s start from the beginning. What exactly is a sponsorship strategy?
Sports sponsorship is a real communication tool that any company/brand can use; it is part of all those actions that enable the brand to achieve its business and communication goals. It is up to the company to decide whether or not to make use of it.
But why specifically sports sponsorship?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked.
The answer is very simple: because through sports sponsorship a brand, from any industry, can communicate and engage its target audience effectively by leveraging the passion they, like us, share for sports. We are all of us, sports fans in one way or another. We watch sporting events, pay to watch live games or competitions, cheer for a team or have a favorite athlete.
What’s more: we accompany our children to various sports activities for years, practice one or more sports ourselves.
Sports is one of the most widely watched forms of entertainment in the world, across the board.
Communicating with our target audience through something they are passionate about and follow, often since they are children, is just perfect.
But which sport should I invest in? In what I like and am passionate about?
Absolutely not. To figure out which sports arena is best for your brand, you need to forget the fan in you and think objectively and strategically.
You must first understand where your target audience is and therefore what sport your target audience is passionate about and watching. Every sports discipline, every sports subject has its own target audience, and it is essential to go and invest where yours is.
For example: if your target audience is mass consumers, perhaps men between the ages of 18-30, of average socioeconomic status, and with medium/low spending power, there is no point in evaluating sports such as golf or sailing. Before investing in any project, one must analyze the numbers and audience characteristics of the project. Every sport is different and you have to make sure you are investing in the right one and then talk to our consumer.
Let’s not forget the values: each sport has its own, and they must be in line with the brand
Another important aspect to evaluate when approaching a sports sponsorship project are the values related to the discipline or team or athlete in which you want to invest.
Just as with the target audience, each sport and each sports property has its own specific values, and these must be in line with those of the company and the brand.
Let me give you an example.
Recent research by Nielsen for Formula 1 found that the values the public identifies with the discipline are: exciting, technological, expensive, competitive and fun.
Surely these are not the same values that soccer or cricket represent.
It is important to know how various sports are characterized in terms of values, so that you can leverage and transfer those values to your brand.
Once you have defined the area of sports in which to invest, you need to figure out what you need in terms of marketing benefits to achieve your goals and whether the organization, event or sportsman can offer them to your brand.
Marketing rights: what are they and how do I define the ones I need?
The benefits, or more precisely “marketing rights” attached to sponsorship, vary according to the budget you have and invest and also according to your goals.
Let me give you some examples of marketing rights that you acquire as a sponsor of a Formula 1 or MotoGP team:
- Logo visibility on cars or motorcycles
- Logo visibility on driver suits and team clothing
- Logo visibility in the team box and on transportation vehicles
- Ability to use team name, fame and image for communication and promotion activities
- Attendance of the rider(s) at one or more of the sponsor’s events
- No. Paddock pass variable and Paddock Club
- Team merchandise available for promotions, gifts and events
And so much more, which often depends on and is evaluated according to the specific needs of each individual company. I always repeat: there are no predefined, one-size-fits-all packages; you can build them according to what you need.
It is very important to always check how and whether the sports entity can support you during the implementation of the program so that you can make the most of all the tools at your disposal so that the sponsorship is effective.
This is a very important point: the sponsorship strategy must consider the budget and resources available to implement the plan. Depending on your budget depends on the type of sponsorship you can approach.
We often talk about this in some of our articles; there are various types of sponsorship packages, and these depend mainly on the goals and budget that the company or brand can invest. If you want your brand to be highly visible on the livery of a Formula 1 car or on the jersey of a soccer team, you need to know that the budget required is different from a smaller, less visible location.
In addition to the budget you have to invest to achieve brand awareness and all related marketing services, you also have to consider that part of the budget has to be used for implementing them.
Let me explain; if as an official sponsor of a Formula 1 team you have 20 Paddock Club tickets available to host your best customers at some races of the season, you also have to think about the cost of transporting and hosting the guests. Just as if you have available the show car of the Formula 1 team you sponsor and want to use it for an event or trade show, you know that you have to bear the costs of transporting and operating it.
Or again: if you want to hold a sweepstakes using the merchandise of the team you sponsor, you need to consider the costs for management and promotion.
Once you have made all these considerations, you need to evaluate which of the potential sponsorships is best for your brand and which benefits are the most useful for your marketing strategy. And choose.
Why is it important to approach sponsorship strategically?
Having a clear strategy before starting to invest in a specific sponsorship project always has several advantages.
First, it can help you focus your efforts on the opportunities that are most in line with your brand and goals and that are therefore most likely to succeed. This can undoubtedly save you time and money by avoiding evaluating or investing in proposals that are not in line with what you need.
Second, a clear sponsorship strategy allows you to be able to devise all the activations you need to interact and create a relationship with your target audience, the famous “engagement.” By harnessing your target audience’s passion for the sports subject you sponsor you can bring so many actions to life, you just have to be creative. From content to be shared via social media, to promotional activities, from hospitality, to events.
There are really no limits.
Third, having a clear and defined sponsorship strategy can help you measure the success of the program you are sponsoring. Still too often companies and brands navigate by sight, without a clear idea of what happens before, during and at the end of the sponsorship. By setting goals and monitoring the results, you can determine whether the direction you have taken is the correct one and, if necessary, make the necessary changes to make it work.
I would say that we have covered all the basic steps that should always be considered when deciding to invest in a sports sponsorship.
In case you need support in one or more phases of this journey, a super partes communications agency like ours can be ideal for choosing the program in which to invest, for evaluating and defining the various opportunities in the best possible way, and finally for devising and taking advantage of all the activations most in line with your brand.
If you have any curiosity, please do not hesitate to contact us