As mentioned on several occasions in these pages, the
is as effective a marketing tool as it is three-dimensional. Its power lies precisely in operating simultaneously on multiple planes, enabling it to achieve a multiplicity of goals at the same time and to enhance processes already in place, such as digital communication activities, events, sales promotions, and above-the-line communication.
While it is wrong to call sports sponsorship “complex”-there is nothing difficult about the mechanisms of sponsorship, indeed, it is so functional since it is immediate-it is, however, fair to point out that it is a multi-layered object and composed of several pieces, which must work in unison to make the best results. To the uninitiated, this articulated construction can occasionally appear intimidating.
Instead, it is the task of sports marketing agencies and sponsorship agencies to defuse this “myth of complexity,” doing justice to the plurality of sponsorship’s voices while not making it appear as a many-headed monster impossible to fully understand and overcome.
The diagram below, which we often bring to our prospects or clients as an example of “next steps,” is a graphic representation of the process of a sponsorship project. It serves not only as a checklist of potential things to check as we go along the way, but also as a small roadmap that at all times gives an account of where we are and what we are doing.
The three moments of sports sponsorship
In our exemplification we divided the sponsorship project into three moments:
- Sponsorship Decision Making,
- The activation of sponsorship,
- The measurement of sponsorship.
Sponsorship decision making is the most strategic part of the journey, the part where decisions are made, directions are chosen and–above all–the parameters of the project are compared with the soul and peculiarities of the company, that mission, vision, purpose and values that are so often called into question.
however, is the more tactical part, that of “grounding” the sponsorship potential. It is the most creative moment, certainly the most exciting and also the most visible. Here lie communication activities, events, social media marketing and so on.
Finally, the measurement of sponsorship is the most analytical part of the whole process. It is here that the great effectiveness of this tool is understood, possible areas for improvement are recognized, and fine-tuning activities are prepared.
The wheel of sports sponsorship
Another obvious consideration is that this graph is-indeed, a wheel. It has a starting point, the start, but finds strength in reiteration and repetition. In fact, it becomes all the better and all the more performing with each additional turn of the wheel.
The simple but important concept is that sponsorship does not end with the measurement of its performance, but rather regains strength from it. Each sports season, each completed project should be an opportunity to analyze the results and return again to the strategic part with more elements and more detail.
As mentioned in these pages, sports sponsorship reaches its maximum effectiveness after 3-4 years or seasons because of its effects on the cognitive and affective part of the brain. They are nothing more than turns of the wheel, or revolutions of this graph, which improve each of the elements included in it from time to time.
Sponsorship decision making: the elements
- Objecives. As always, the whole process can only start with defining the marketing objectives that you want to achieve with sports sponsorship. They must be SMART, meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and well cadenced over time.
- Budgeting. The second step is to allocate an operating budget for the sponsorship, including both the cost of the sponsorship itself and the cost of activation.
- Choice of sport and Property. Only at this point can you choose the sport, team, event, or athlete you want to sponsor. This is an important time when gut feelings, or gut decisions, often prevail. Better to get help from a competent and professional agency that can operate and advise with objectivity and independence.
- Negotiation. This is the stage when, together with the sports property and the agency, the perfect, tailor-made plan is built. The purpose of this phase is to eliminate all the superfluous and to remain with a clearly delineated benefits package that is essential and suited to the goals you want to achieve. There are no standard packages in sponsorship-everything is tailor-made and based on what you want to achieve.
- Legal/Signing. The last stage of “Sponsorship decision making” is the all-important legal review and eventual signing (unless, of course, it is a multi-year contract and you are already on your second or third turn of the wheel). Legal review is essential not only to protect oneself and to understand the size of the playing field, but to put down on paper all the points discussed, including detail, and not have problems in the present but especially in the future.
- Release notes and Announcements. In the case of new partnerships, a key moment is the announcement of the sponsorship. This should be done in coordination with the sports property, even better if during a coordinated event or media moment. The beginning of the year is in this sense always an appropriate time, as all the press and fans are eager for news after the break.
- Marketing & Graphic Materials Ready. The second phase of activation is to prepare all communication materials, visual and otherwise, that are needed for marketing activities. From banners to POP materials, from Video spots to social media graphics, here is where sponsorship begins to take shape, color and substance.
- Content & Social Media Planning. The creation of an editorial plan that takes into account competitions, events, and sports and corporate moments is essential to be able to have a successful year on social media but also in ordinary communication. Planning communication activities is essential so that you do not have to navigate by sight or improvise at the most tense moments.
- Activities and Events Scheduling. Also in activations, it is important to put on the calendar events, fairs, conventions, corporate moments where sponsorship benefits can be applied. Use of showcars and showbikes, presence of riders and management, Hospitality activities and licensing agreements (just to name a few), must be planned in advance to ensure maximum effectiveness and proper organization.
- Last Minute and Low Hanging Fruit. Sports are unpredictable, and there are numerous last-minute opportunities or quick wins to grab throughout the year. An unsuspected comeback victory, an unexpected prize, a memorable Sunday, and other low hanging fruit are just a few examples. Being prepared, closely following what is happening in the field and on the track, and having materials ready for every eventuality is absolutely necessary.
- Reports & Meetings. Teams, events, and sports properties in general send periodic sponsorship progress reports and schedule periodic meetings to show how things are going and take stock. This is typically the first -and important- moment of confrontation that sponsors can have. It is important to make these meetings profitable and not hesitate to ask questions. Just as it is good to read and keep carefully the reports that are sent periodically.
- Digital and Social Media Reporting. Website analytics and social media statistics can often provide interesting insights into the progress of communication activities. Sports sponsorship is particularly good when it comes to social engagement, and it is not uncommon to see large spikes in interest and engagement precisely when sports become part of the narrative.
- AVE & TV Audience. Advertising Equivalency Value and television audience analysis often go hand in hand. The AVE returns the answer to a key question, “When should I spend on advertising to get the same visibility that I got from sponsorship?” For major sports series such as Formula 1 and MotoGP, the television viewership and the data that arise from it are impressive both in numbers and in geographic reach.
- Customer satisfaction reports. In the case of one-to-one activities, below-the-line communication, sales promotion, and similia, satisfaction surveys and questionnaires are often important to have a correct sentiment of the activities carried out. Hospitality, trade shows, and events in fact return data that are different from traditional statistics, but that is not to say they are not measurable.
- Sales Reports. Finally, a very important piece of data comes from analyses of sales after sponsorship (or at any rate some time after sponsorship has begun). Bottom-line impact is critical for all companies, from all backgrounds, sizes, and industries, and-although it is not the only data point to consider-it is an always important indicator of how things are going.
Instructions for use.
Like all schemes, this “wheel of sponsorship” is a simplification. Numerous elements can be added-but also subtracted-from this diagram and indeed, no one case can be the same as another, precisely because no one sponsorship is the same as another. The purpose of this exercise is to show the circularity of this tool and the many phases and components of which each project is made.
Every sports sponsorship agency knows that personalizing this path is the first step toward successful sponsorship. In our case, if you want to know how this wheel can be applied to your sponsorship project in Formula 1,
and other top motorsport series, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact forms on this website.