5 Tips for achieving sponsorship success

By The Earnie Team

As the media landscape gets more fragmented and rights holders offer more opportunities, sponsors face increasingly hard decisions to make sponsorship work. It’s in the interests of everyone to make these opportunities more than media buys. In my opinion, if done properly nothing beats a live experience for sponsors and aligned to best practise, we’ll see brands being more effective at leveraging these channels.

So as we look at 2017 planning, how do brands achieve cut through in such a saturated and competitive entertainment space? Here are Earnie’s 5 tips to achieving success.

1.    Finding the right sponsorship fit

Finding a good fit starts by aligning target audiences, values and your overall marketing strategy with the sport or event you are considering. Sometimes this can be obvious, but often it’s not. Earnie suggests that brands look for right holders that are challenging the norm, have a strong authentic connection to their audiences and provide digital channels. The key is product, passion and platforms.

2.    Consistency & focus

Secondly be consistent – you need a plan and must keep focused on longer term objectives. Fans of sports are consistent in their interest of certain events over their lifetime so delivering strong sponsorship won’t happen overnight and short term associations will be seen as commercial baggage to the event. A great example is Robinson’s long standing partnership with Wimbledon (81 years) where research from Ipsos MORI found that nearly 50% associated Robinson with Wimbledon. Last year Waggner Edstrom Communications (WE) found that Robinson topped the list of 19 of the most effective sponsors of events.  The risk of an ineffective partnership increases when brands are opportunistic and pick events based on short-term returns. As the Head of Digital and insight at WE said, “pick one event and go big rather than spreading yourself too far afield.”

3.    Strategic activation

Above all, you must activate. Most successful partnerships give the opportunity for the brand to enhance the consumer’s experience. Ideally through multiple channels; at the event, watching at home or through social media and digital channels. Previously a brand could look to sponsor the main sports, advertise on key networks and be confident that their brand message was being delivered. Now the market has become more fragmented and brands have to connect with fans through multiple channels. At Earnie we have been talking about activation for a while (https://www.earnie-agency.com/insights/earnies-five-truths-about-sponsorship-activation/). If you can’t a put a budget behind activation, save your rights fee for something else.

4.    Putting digital at the heart of your campaigns

A strong digital strategy is an essential part of your campaign and brands must use online tools to segment audiences more accurately. Marketers can accurately target demographics such as gender, age and income more accurately but also with the advent of certain tools behaviour and interests can be profiled. Weekly reports should show how the campaign is pulling and changes need to be made in real time to optimise pre-agreed goals. By working with key partners, digital has become a central aspect of Earnie’s marketing strategies.

5.    Setting targets and measurement methods up front

The success in a campaign or partnership depends on the objectives of the project. It is worth explaining and agreeing these with the rights holder to identify the best parts of the rights deal. Is the core objective to drive awareness, brand management, enter new markets, increase sales or a combination of a variety of objectives?  Depending on the short term and long term targets, the measurement methods need to be set up front. Cost per reach, click through, unaided awareness per reach and brand recall targets, to name but a few, all need to provide the framework for effective evaluation. Although it can be complex, both sponsor rights holder need to measure as much as possible in order to help the business case and future directions.