A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlighted a trend among companies reviewing candidates for chief marketing officer and other senior marketing roles, namely that many are “increasingly favoring candidates with deep experience in so-called performance-marketing.”
The piece goes on to explain that “Performance-marketing campaigns push consumers to take a specific action, such as clicking a link or providing an email address, while brand marketing aims to increase awareness of a company and shape perceptions of that business. By recording exactly how many people take a desired action, these campaigns can be more directly tied to sales at a time when many CMOs are expected to do more with less.”
While current economic conditions are partly the reason behind this trend, many experts expect it to last for much of the next decade no matter how the economy performs.
Andrew Fried, senior vice president of direct-to-consumer marketing at telecommunications firm Mint Mobile LLC, told WSJ, “Nine times out of 10, when I get calls for either CMO positions for companies under $1 billion [in revenue] or heads of marketing for larger companies, these are companies that really want a deep performance-marketing background.”
The implications are clear for sports and entertainment partnerships of having marketing leaders who are focused on driving specific behavior:
- Sponsorship sellers should be sure to emphasize trackable, action-inducing promotions over branding and visibility in both their prospect proposals and activation plans for current sponsors
- Those same communications should highlight the performance measurement plan for those activations, demonstrating the property’s investment in delivering on the partner’s specific success metrics.
- Rights holders must play close attention to the backgrounds and job responsibilities of each person in the sponsor’s decision-making chain so that they can build in elements to each partnership that will align with individual and corporate priorities.
Regarding that final point, the WSJ article noted that some companies are splitting brand and performance marketing into to separate verticals, each run by its own senior executive. Depending on the company, its business goals and its approach to partnerships, proposals and discussions may be placed in one vertical or responsibility could be shared.
It is expected by most in the industry that ultimately most companies will land on the idea that it is best to do well at both brand building and driving sales through marketing. In the long run, that full-stack approach will be an ideal situation for sponsorships sellers since partnerships can deliver against both.
But for now, and for as long as different companies place different emphasis on these two sides of the marketing coin, rights holders must zero in on what message and benefits will best resonate with the backgrounds, skills and concerns of the people calling the shots.