Start your Sponsorship Activation Before You Sign The Contract
If you do not have a plan with a good chance of success, don’t execute the sponsorship
Sports teams, performing arts organizations and festivals and events have an abundance of assets to sell and many can sound really exciting. “A full year suite at the baseball game — how awesome does that sound?” Well, if you can’t fill 81 nights with 20+ people every night that are furthering your business objectives then you might have just wasted a LOT of money! Too many companies negotiate a sponsorship and get enthralled with some of the benefits only to find out many of those assets — which they are paying a pretty penny for — go to waste. It is key to develop an activation plan while you are negotiating the sponsorship.
It is vital to think about how you can activate each asset and how it will further your business objectives. There are many, many assets a property would love to sell you, but you simply do not need (by the way, a good property will act as a partner in this and not sell you something you are unable to leverage). Returning to our example above, a full year suite might be great — if you develop a “cause marketing” plan to provide the suite to different charities, or if you can give some nights to another sponsor, who in turn can provide some of their valuable assets to you as part of a co-promotion.
Let’s look at another example — signage. It is one of the most valuable (read: expensive) assets a property sells, but if that signage is just a logo, I promise you there are cheaper ways to get eyeballs on your logo. However, if that signage reminds the fans of a unique experience they had with your brand at the event, or a promotion they need to go take part in, or why you support the team they are passionate about, well, then, it might be a great investment and more than worth the “sponsorship premium.”
As we discussed in part II of this series, “If you buy a sponsorship only for branding, you have missed the point.” Your activation plan is what will make your brand come to life for the fan and your stakeholders. That enhancement of the fan experience is key to making a sponsorship successful and what must be considered when negotiating assets — well in advance of signing any sponsorship contract.