The Architecture of a Good Sponsorship Program
It is like building a house or any sort of project, campaign or plan. There are four pillars; Foundation Basement, Blueprint, material choice, finishing. We all want to feel our sponsorships are doing some good: for our company, for our chosen non-profit or charity organizations, and for our community. Progressive companies and organizations are learning that sponsorship is on the rise in Canada and provides an interesting and complimentary strategic alternative to traditional marketing programs and public relations strategies.
One way to make sure these business agreements work is to set them on a firm foundation – pillars if you will. The Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™ defines sponsorship as “a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically in sports, arts, entertainment or causes) in return for the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property”.
And a property is defined as “a physical or non-physical asset or organization that owns specified related rights and sells them to a sponsor for the purposes of earning income for the organization. (These properties are typically sports, member based associations, municipalities or government agencies, arts, charities, events, entertainment, nonprofit or for profit organizations).”
First let’s differentiate sponsorship from philanthropy. Philanthropy is giving from the heart – your company gets a tax receipt and a warm, fuzzy feeling. Sponsorship is a business arrangement and transaction meant to deliver results.
Your vision has to be pillar one. You need a clear vision of what you want to do with the sponsorship. So many times small and medium businesses go into arrangements based on emotion and don’t use the traditional goal setting exercise which would ask what do you want to get out of the sponsorship?– and why this group? Are the reasons for sponsorship employee participation or retention? Brand awareness? Client connections? Why are you spending your money here and how can this arrangement fulfill business objectives and help the non-profit group at the same time? Your vision needs to include a win-win scenario and asking the tough questions up front gives you the kind of information you need for any business investment.
Pillar two is the blueprint. It has to be how to make the sponsorship build on your visioning exercise. You now need to follow that vision and plan to what you expect this investment to do for you. If you vision is about your employees, then how can a sponsorship engage them, keep them, make them excited about the things their company is doing in the community. If it is brand awareness, how can I make sure my name is getting out there and being seen in a positive light? These are the necessary planning exercises that begin to move the company from blueprint stage to the action stage. It’s where some of the tough decisions get made about who do I partner with, what’s our relationship?
Pillar three involves the choice of materials to build or what business tools or resources do you have to construct a winning sponsorship event? You’ve chosen the property (hopefully based on knowing what their sponsorship assets are worth) and now it’s time to activate. This might mean helping the sponsor advertise the event, maybe it’s weekly or monthly update meetings with the property, maybe it’s enhancing the décor of the property to impress clients and employees. It’s the little details that make building a home special – what is your crown molding for your sponsorship investment?
With these questions answered you can move to pillar four – evaluation or what’s next? Once the sponsorship has run its course, how will you evaluate what you’ve done? Leads gathered? Employee satisfaction survey? Client feedback? It’s not a win-win if you don’t measure your return on investment. What if things didn’t go how you planned – do you have an exit strategy? Let’s say things went great, do you want to do this next year? A good evaluation will tell you if the property has fulfilled on its promises (we recommend a fulfillment report), feedback from all areas of your business should tell you how well things went and your clients will tell you through their actions what your return on investment really was. Build it and they will come, maybe, but good planning is at the bottom of any successful business venture.
Submitted by Brent Barootes, President, Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™. http://www.partnershipgroup.ca/