How To Start Customer Cultivation With Strategic Sponsorships

 Posted on: May 30 2019
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Billions of dollars are spent globally on sponsorships each year. According to IEG, global sponsorship spending topped $65 billion last year, with the majority of the money going toward sports partnerships, followed by entertainment, causes, festival events, and association organizations.

Sponsorships offer a targeted opportunity to reach current and prospective clients on the consumer or business to business (B2B) side (or both). If you are new to leveraging sponsorships as an engagement tool, here are a few tips on crafting a strategic plan that I learned over the course of 25 years in sponsorship sales and activation with sports and entertainment properties.

Know Your Audience

Think of a sponsorship as a marketing asset that will drive your business objectives. Do you want to sell more stock keeping units (SKUs), engage prospective clients with VIP entertainment or increase awareness through media? These are a few of the goals that can result from a successful sponsorship program.

It is also important to create an audience profile for your sponsorship plan so you can clearly define the demographics, interests and passion points of this audience, as well as their intent to purchase your product. Research will drive this segmentation.

There are a number of research platforms available to determine the property or event that best reaches a new audience or a prospective audience for your business objectives. IEG and Scarborough Local Insights are two popular sponsorship research tools you can use.

Activate Your Sponsorship

It’s important to market your sponsorship with an activation plan to begin the customer cultivation journey of converting customers to loyal consumers.

The first step is to make sure you get customer contact information as part of the plan (through contesting, gated web content or a social follow), so you can start the engagement process. The activation plan must create awareness of your brand, offer a trial of the product if appropriate, and be results-driven. The plan must also have a budget above the sponsorship fee paid to the property -- often twice, or more, of the initial fee amount.

Once the benefits of the sponsorship have been finalized with the property, add these to the plan to overlay any gaps in fulfilling the overall business objectives.

Along with the activation plan, it’s important to create metrics to measure and evaluate the success of the sponsorship. These metrics can range from sales of products during the event(s) to media awareness to coupon redemption and more.

Continue The Conversation

Continue the conversation with the customers you connected with via your activation experience with a strategic content campaign that may include email, search engine marketing and/or social media content.

Based on the complexity of your product or business, you may have a longer sales cycle. Consider the various content opportunities to help inform these buying decisions, such as videos, whitepapers or longer form content. For instance, if your product is typically an impulse buy, you might have more success using social media or search engine marketing.

Lastly, as you consider sponsorship marketing, let your decisions be driven by research aligned to support your business objectives with a direct and measurable call-to-action.

Jackie Reau
Game Day Communications

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