Digital sponsorship benefits are one of the biggest challenges I see and hear when speaking to sponsorship professionals. Specifically, they are challenged by how they can provide value to sponsors through these assets and manage the increasing appetite of sponsors for access to them.
That’s why it surprises me, when I am looking at the fulfillment obligations some of our clients have, that social media integration is offered far too much to sponsors. That’s because sponsors really want it (or at least they think they do).
A recent survey of sponsors by IEG/ESP, released in December 2015, states that
95% of sponsors utilize social media to leverage their sponsorships.
However, this is somewhat contradicted when you read, within the same report, that only
46% saw value in access to social media
39% saw value in access to property content for their own use in the digital space.
It doesn’t take long to read on and see why so many sponsors use digital to leverage when around 50% of sponsors are not looking to increase activation and leverage spend. Digital is cheaper, however, unless it is done properly the value realized will increasingly reduce.
Managing The Appetite For Digital Sponsorship Benefits
The appetite for digital activation is only going to get bigger but as more sponsors want and expect it, as a sponsorship manager, you need to ask “Will it add value and help achieve the objectives underlying the sponsorship?”
Digital is without doubt going to emerge as the most valuable tool in your benefits inventory (if you have an audience that you don’t flood with sponsor messages). As such, why not view it the way we view our other pieces of valuable inventory?
Use Digital Sponsorship Benefits Wisely
Keeping focused on the objectives of your sponsors and how you can help achieve those is still the difference between good and bad sponsorships. Digital should be held for that same purpose. The IEG/ESP survey found that the brand positioning piece of sponsorship was still the outright leader in sponsor motivation. Social media and access to other digital assets makes this easy but there are other ways and your digital assets don’t have to be offered to or available for everyone (just like branding or signage is not).
Aligning Digital Sponsorship Benefits With Your Key Assets
Category exclusivity was far and away the most valuable property a sponsor saw with the survey. So, why not align the most valuable assets with the most popular channels and reserve digital activations for those who pay for it and can help augment your presence through a commitment to leverage and generate meaningful content for your audience?
There are some obvious benefits to doing this:
- Your content is still organizationally focused - So you can grow your audience and keep them engaged with content they are interested in.
- Sponsor messages and integrations are rare - Meaning there will be more engagement and inherently more value derived for the sponsor through a bigger audience.
- Meaningful content will help position the partnership side-by-side - Meaning your audience will become more engaged with your sponsor.
Measuring Return On Digital Sponsorship Benefits
The final highlight of the survey for me was the outcomes of the ROI/ROO feelings of sponsors towards rights holders. Whilst assistance in measuring ROO/ROI was the most valuable service a property can offer a sponsor (closely followed by post-event fulfillment reports), a massive
65% of respondents felt that expectations were not met by the rights holder in measuring ROO/ROI.
This is a time consuming and difficult administrative task to manage for a rights holder, particularly when fulfillment in itself takes up most of your time, which is why more and more people are searching for new technology to manage the administration and to deliver accurate and real-time reports for sponsors. The benefit is that they are left with more time to focus on fulfillment, retention and sales.
Partnerships Are Key
One thing the report highlights best for me is that the key findings can all be achieved by creating meaningful relationships, they being:
- value provision;
- advancement in servicing; and
- reporting and tracking ROI/ROO;
Creating partnerships with your sponsors, generating mutually beneficial content, creating value in your assets and being able to report is definitely the key point that will help you keep your sponsors happy, build relationships and ultimately lead to retention
Mark Thompson // Director
Mark specializes in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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