By now, any sports or entertainment organizations that have recruited and retained sponsors understand that one-size-fits-all asset packages and activations don’t cut it. Brand partners need to have rights and benefits tailored to their objectives, along with ideas on how to promote and leverage those rights in ways that will be relevant to their specific customers and stakeholders.
But the concept of customization cannot be limited to what’s in the sponsorship package. Tailoring needs to happen at every step in the partnership recruiting process—from initial contact through follow-up reporting.
Gathering the right intelligence to get in the door. Rights holders’ ability to customize initial outreach depends on thoroughly researching sponsor prospects, which requires diligence, which equates to that all-too-precious commodity—time.
It’s very tempting for properties, especially if human and other resources are in short supply—to cut corners here, but it’s important to recognize that selling sponsorship is not a volume game. Sending 20 customized emails that reflect actual knowledge of the prospects’ business goals will yield far greater results than 100 that contain assumptions and generic information.
The intelligence needed can be found in multiple places. Direct conversations with company insiders are best but can be difficult to come by. The best sponsorship salespeople leverage every connection they have to try to speak with someone internally. Even if a contact is not part of the marketing organization, they will have relevant information that no one outside the company is privy to.
Don’t stop at category-level data. Although companies that share a category might have some marketing objectives in common, each brand is unique. Assuming anything different can kill your chances of getting a meeting.
Take legalized betting, one of the fastest-growing categories in sports sponsorship. Online research in the category yields many articles, podcast interviews, etc. discussing how the most important objective for sports betting companies at this early stage of the industry is access to large audience databases for customer acquisition.
That is true for some of the most recognized players, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, who are looking to maximize the number of people downloading their apps. But it’s not the case for some of the smaller companies in the category, which are spending on partnerships but with an eye toward a more targeted audience of bigger-spending gamblers. Sellers who approach those brands with a pitch about the size of their audience have taken a big swing and missed, without the luxury of two more strikes.
Continue tailoring through price negotiations and post-sponsorship reporting. While every interaction with a potential or current sponsor should be personalized, there are two areas beyond promotional ideas and execution where bespoke information is critical, yet where many properties attempt to make do with one-size-fits-all solutions.
The first is determining fair market value of a sponsorship package. The fact that each sponsor is unique in terms of its market position, objectives, etc., means that even if multiple sponsors were to secure sponsorships that are identical in the rights and benefits included, the value to each sponsor would be different.
Properties must consider that reality when negotiating the amount sponsors will pay, applying their knowledge of the company to establish a price point that neither over-values the partnership nor leaves money on the table.
The second is producing post-event or periodic performance reports for sponsors. Although there will be a great deal of information on attendance, audience demographics, media coverage, etc. that will be relevant to all sponsors, fulfillment reports must go the extra mile and include data specific to each sponsor’s activations, audience response, visibility and more.