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Do You Have a Winning Sponsorship Strategy?

It's a question any brand, company, agency, or person managing a sponsorship should ask of themselves. But, how do you know? Sometimes we think we're doing all the right things - and maybe we're pushing some of the right buttons - but how do we know we're truly getting all we can get from our sponsorship?

The answer is... MOST ARE NOT. We'll come back to this in a bit, but first -

Aric almirola wins at new hampshire temerity marketing winning sponsorship strategy
A winning sponsorship strategy requires hard work and dedication

Why is sponsorship an effective tool?

Some of this is fairly intuitive, especially if you currently have or have had involvement with sponsorship marketing. But, let's set a foundation for further discussion:

  • Drives brand awareness: At the very least this is what any sponsorship will do. A brand aligns itself with an entity or individual hoping to gain access to their audience because (hopefully!) that audience has major overlap with the brand's target market. More on that in a second.

  • It's emotional: Customers/consumers tend to support brands aligned with things they care about. So, add brand affinity to the mix to supplement brand awareness.

  • Brand identity: The sponsorship (over time) becomes an extension of who you are trying to be whether creating an identity (newer brands) or enhancing an already established identity.

  • It (should) reach a target rich environment: A properly identified and executed sponsorship (by the way there are plenty of the former that lack the latter) allows a brand to reach more potential customers with a more refined, segmented audience. In layman's terms that increases your opportunities to sell, because if we're not selling then it's just a hobby for someone in the organization. Trust us, it happens more often than you think.

  • It creates a platform: With the right sponsorship a brand should now have an amplified voice via the new communication platform, activation platform, etc. How the brand uses the platform will determine success.

  • It establishes an entry point and avenue up and down the funnel: The best sponsorships have customers/consumers at all points within the funnel depending on a variety of factors including where the brand is in its life cycle. Execution will determine how much activity you get further down the funnel.

Customer purchase funnel sponsorship marketing strategy
Sponsorships should engage at every level of the funnel

Identification and selection is a critical first step

Some dos and don'ts:

How to select the right sponsorship
The most critical step in the sponsorship journey

I've made my decision, now what?

We'll assume it was the right decision that was data driven. Now, it's time to extract MAXIMUM VALUE through activation. Activation takes on many forms and, very simply defined, is the method(s) by which you leverage the chosen platform to achieved desired objectives.

A sponsorship without activation is limited. The investment in an appropriate sponsorship fit is just the first step. So, when budgeting it's critical to factor in this additional set of steps. Anyone can put up a billboard - and that can help with awareness and association within the chosen space - but why not engage throughout the funnel?

A successful activation strategy will incorporate best practices to connect with the audience. Those may vary by platform and audience characteristics. Some questions to consider:

  • Who really is this audience (demographics, personality, interests, etc.)?

  • What should they like about your brand?

  • What gets them excited and engaged?

Activation comes in many forms...

The best activation plans are robust and multi-layered. Just how robust often depends on a few factors such as the size and scope of the sponsorship and how much the brand will lean into the sponsorship. Regardless, the name of the game is always going to be to maximize return on investment by bringing customers/consumers into the funnel, building equity with the fan base, driving purchase, and laying the foundation to become the audience's CHOSEN BRAND.

In my nearly decade long tenure heading up a major sponsorship within the sport of NASCAR, my team and I were able to establish 15 (FIFTEEN!) different value tiers of the sponsorship. Each had levers we could pull and we established best practices over time - refining each year, keeping what worked (and enhancing it year to year), and discarding what didn't. With our approach, experience, and expertise the sponsorship GREW EVERY SINGLE YEAR and was undeniably successful.

Temerity was established to take this expertise and proven model out to other brands within sports and sponsorship marketing. We could give them all away here but then we wouldn't be running a business :-D

We're here to help in each stage of the process from identification through execution. Here's why you should choose us to guide you in your journey:

sports and sponsorship marketing agency Temerity marketing
We've built extensive expertise and understanding of the sports and sponsorship landscape

To put a bow on it...

Sponsorships can be an incredible tool when identified and executed correctly. The ones that fail typically fail because of one of these two factors. A poorly identified sponsorship is doomed from the start. A poorly executed one is disappointing because it implies the brand was in the right space and failed to identify the best practices to execute (or did not budget for an appropriate activation). A few final takeaways:

  • Budget appropriately. Leave money for activation. Spending it all on the sponsorship itself is a failure waiting to happen.

  • Activate, activate, activate. Otherwise you're just a billboard in a stadium, on a race car, or on a wall somewhere that just happens to be affiliated with a team, venue, etc. Billboards are great for awareness but why stop at the top of the funnel?

  • Sponsorships take time. Rarely is a sponsorship going to be an overnight game changer. The longer you play (and we assume longevity means proper execution) the better it typically gets. Make sure your sponsorship strategy has an appropriate time horizon.

    • That doesn't mean sponsorships never get stale. Other factors such as shifting brand priorities, shifting dynamics with the entity (a league, team, player, etc.), and consumer/fan trends can impact a desire to continue a sponsorship.

  • Have fun with it. It should be a point of pride within the walls of your organization in addition to being desirable to your customer base.


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