Before everyone gets back into the routine of five (or more) straight days of working—sans sugar cookies with that morning cup of coffee and weekday afternoon football games—time for some recommendations on what sponsors and rightsholders should consider prioritizing in 2023.
Properties. At the top of rights holders’ to-do lists should be providing the tools, insights and information that their brand partners need. We’re not talking about the rights and benefits that form the core of sponsorships—those of course remain integral to a successful partnership.
What’s at issue here are items such as critical data that can help prove whether a partnership is having its intended impact, actionable fan insights and the elimination of obstacles that prevent brand partners from fully activating a sponsorship.
Many brand marketers privately, and sometimes publicly, decry that although their property partners are well-intentioned and would like to fulfill marketers’ desires for better information and a generally higher level of service, they too often fall well short of the mark.
In 2022, some significant steps were taken by a select number of rights holders—including those who began to allow their corporate customers to resell unused tickets and offered TicketManager services free of charge to those clients. But properties have only scratched the surface in delivering key information that sponsors, who increasingly need to justify their investments, will soon deem essential.
Sponsors. If they want to optimize return on their sponsorship investments, brand partners should follow the motto of the Scout movement and be prepared. In particular, before entering conversations and negotiations with rights holders, sponsors should resolve to have:
- Specific and measurable marketing and business objectives for each partnership, agreed upon by all relevant internal stakeholders, such as marketing, sales, finance, senior management, etc.
- Clear understanding of what sponsorship is and what it can and cannot accomplish. While incorporating advertising, promotion, content marketing, etc., it is a discrete marketing discipline that requires specialist capabilities.
- Reasonable expectations of their partners. It is fair that brands need flexibility to tweak benefits as conditions and objectives change, but despite the need for rights holders to do a better job of servicing sponsors (see above), they are not full-service agencies that can jump through every hoop of even their best clients. Both parties must strive to understand the realities of each other’s businesses and reach effective compromises that move partnerships forward while keeping them worth the cost.