Author: Dijana Vetturelli
One of the hardest tasks I had and still have is to explain that sponsorship as an approach needs defined objectives and a clear strategy, because the common thinking is still that sponsorship is just a marketing instrument, communication channel or tactical tool.
But what it is is a unique way to connect with all stakeholders, give meaning to your company’s mission statement and achieve one or maybe both of the two categories into which all marketing objectives fall: changing perception or target markets behaviours around your company/brand.
Yet many companies fall into a trap and use sponsorship as a tactic approach to raise visibility and/or sales rather than a strategic one which is a result of the company’s overall business strategy. Understanding strategic approach to sponsorship is far more complex than defining a few tangible assets that look nice in the RoI report.
According to our research from May 2012, the problem is that corporate communications, or marketing managers, invest only 5-10% of their time in sponsorship issues. Keeping in mind that to be successful sponsorship needs a good strategy followed by activation plan, implemented daily over a period of years, it is no wonder that the results are very often negative. Due to lack of time, poorly defined objectives, no integration in other company activities and small activation budgets (between 5-20%) it is difficult to maximize the potential.
This is a pity, especially as neuromarketing proved the power of sports sponsorship as the
perfect platform for story-telling. The uncertainty of outcome produces dopamine (euphoria-inducing hormone) producing effects such as excitement and pleasure that are much more intense than any emotion elicited by a TV commercial. It is hardly surprising then that global sponsorships with the annual growth rate of 5% are rising faster than any other marketing investment.
The Croatian market is following the world trends and even during the recession the sponsorship investments are growing by 2-3% per year, with over 50% being invested in sports. Nevertheless, according to many of our surveys conducted on the Croatian market, the public is not aware of the sponsorship activities and would like to know more. This is due to the fact that most companies failed to activate the sponsorship.
On the other hand, companies that recognize the necessity of activation plans redirect this task to marketing or PR agencies. However, without a strategy the agencies are faced with mission impossible. They don't get a proper brief and the money invested into the activation is already wasted. A few years ago a financial institute decided to sponsor the most visited sport event in Croatia, putting a lot of money and effort into the activation. Due to their visibility they were impossible to miss. The marketing agency did a great job and came up with quite cute ideas to engage the visitors of the event. Over 20,000 people have been contacted. The bank made a public statement that the results were excellent because the RoI in media coverage was 1:6.54. But an independent survey including 446 respondents showed that less than 10% knew about the partnership. This makes a substantial investment - 2,000 people who were informed but still didn't change their perception or behaviour regarding the bank. It is possible the bank had some other internal objectives they were not allowed to communicate, but the RoI story regarding the media coverage was not very convincing. This is just one example and I could name a few more. The point is without the objectives and a strategy the most common evaluation method is still media coverage which is nipping the power of sponsorship in the bud.
Thos of us who are in the business know that sponsorship offers a different way into the world of our customers and needs a unique approach which makes sponsorship a piece of art.
It has the power to change the world of our customers and stakeholders. Therefore,
"take the time you need,
invest it in a winning strategy
and make it meaningful
for your stakeholders and your company."
TT Sponsorship Architectures