Well thought out sponsorship can be a powerful positioning device. It can demonstrate brand values, increase visibility and boost reputation. On the other hand, poorly thought out partnerships can alienate customers, demoralise staff and upset other key stakeholders.
Ten Things You Should Do
- What are your company values and product values?
- Look at your publics. What do your customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, community, investors and other stakeholders think of you? You may need some research at this stage. There are lots of oblique psychological research techniques. However, there is another tried and proven method – ask questions.
- Define your objective. Are you happy with your current position? Do you wish to reinforce existing brand values or change perceptions? Which key stakeholder groups do you wish to target? What are your primary and secondary messages?
- Different forms of sponsorship say different things about you. Do you want to have international, national, regional or local impact? Sponsorship of charities demonstrates humanity and responsibility. Sponsorship of sports and the media will boost your popular profile. Cultural sponsorship may help your niche positioning. Sponsorship of education or research shows forward thinking.
- Consistency. Is your sponsorship choice consistent with other corporate, consumer and community communication? Mixed messages can be damaging.
- Are you sponsoring a single event or a long term programme? Consider the direct and indirect costs of entry and exit. Some forms of sponsorship may be difficult to exit from without damage to your reputation. Go for a fixed term involvement and ensure a smooth hand over to the next sponsor.
- Plan, budget and exploitation. Ensure you have adequate time and sufficient budget remaining for your PR and other promotion for every stage in the programme.
- Cross media promotion. Link your sponsorship to your advertising, product packaging, point-of-sale materials and so on. Invite stakeholders to participate. If you can, organise your own satellite events at each location. Look at the possibilities for merchandising – this could be another stream of income for you or the sponsored organisation.
- Bespoke sponsorship or ready-made? There are many sponsorship opportunities that you can buy into. You can also consider creating your own such as annual awards, entertainment, competitions, exhibition and training events.
- Cross branding benefits. Ensure you exploit every opportunity to associate your brand with the sponsored event and the recipients brand in your promotions.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t expect sponsorship to drive sales. Sponsorship is about values and visibility. Participation may lift your reputation and exposure and push you up a customers shopping list, but you still need to attend to the other marketing elements.
- Don’t sponsor personal interests. Stakeholders will see this as an excuse for a benefit at their expense. Of course there will be worthy exceptions to this so make sure your stakeholders are fully informed
- Don’t enter a sponsorship deal you cannot sustain. Early exit from a sponsorship can be costly to your reputation.
- Don’t keep up a sponsorship deal that has run its natural course. Monitor the feedback from your sponsorship. Also, beware of sponsorships that can turn bad overnight – remember all the celebrities that have fallen from grace! Always be prepared to change if necessary.
- Don’t spread yourself too thinly. This can dilute and confuse the message, may suggest a lack of commitment and will not have the same impact as fewer, deeper well chosen alliances.