We are operating in a complicated, scrutinized, analyzed and need-to-deliver world. In the last few years especially, marketing has jumped to the center of the universe of importance for organizations. For a short while, vanity metrics such as "awareness" and "impressions" seemed to cover the bases. But what happens when large-scale attendance at events is not possible or if there are never any opportunities for your branding to even be seen in the traditional sense?
Executives and board members have correctly been asking an insightful question, “impressions are great, but then what?"
We love that question. We thrive on that question. That question fits with what we believe about the new and more important role of the marketing team. The marketing team is now a sort of glue that can bring disparate stakeholders together. That is a challenge on its own.
Adding to the pressure, those stakeholders will demand the same marketing budget benefit their unique needs.
How do you apply your marketing budget in ways that benefit the most important parts of your business?
There are numerous platforms for your brand to invest in to go about accomplishing this. A lot of those are your more traditional forms of media, and even social media, that heavily relies on those “impression” metrics that don’t as quickly connect to what you want to see happen - sales growth. When activated appropriately, sponsorship has a host of unique elements to capitalize on that lead to sales growth. While this approach is not instant, it is effective. If you are looking for a quick 6-month fix, this approach probably isn’t for you.
We are looking to build sponsorship programs around the following goals over time:
more engaged customers
more motivated partners
These are your most significant stakeholders. When these elements are aligned and efficiently activated, you will see the sales growth come. Your marketing budget will impact all of these stakeholders. Let’s break down each unique audience, and how your sports marketing can engage them.
Regardless of whether you are selling high-volume packaged goods to consumers, SaaS or long-term B2B services, chances are you will be better off with a more engaged customer set. Not that you need 100% of your customers fully engaged all of the time, that’s not very practical. Most probably, you have a spread of engagement across your customer set that has a small percentage of customers who are highly engaged, the majority of your customers are somewhat engaged, and also some customers who are not engaged at all.
Each one of these groups of customers will require a different approach to move to the next level or to maintain their current level if they are highly engaged. Use your sports marketing assets here to address each different group. When you build the right mix of assets, you can run appropriate strategies for each different group.
Your highly engaged customers could experience the full VIP package, with behind-the-scenes access, celebrity meet and greet’s, unique places to view the event and other treats that only your best customers deserve. This is some of the most effective marketing you can do because of the way it makes your customers feel.
For those customers who are not very engaged, or maybe have been slipping away as of late, you can leverage your sponsorship assets to reach out to them. Going to the very basic levels of inviting them to an event you are a primary supporter of can showcase your commitment to them.
Hook these customers up with a pair of good tickets to the race, some lunch and maybe a little memento of their time. They might not be entirely engaged, but they are essential to keep in mind. Then, leverage the event as a follow-up opportunity and a discussion starter for future business opportunities.
Rewarded, Recognized Employees
The thing about brands, companies, and organizations is that they are all made up of people. Right in line of importance with your customers are of course your employees. The people on the front lines. The people who bring your brand to life. This second group of stakeholders is ripe to engage with your marketing.
You can leverage your sponsorship in ways that show you love your employees and are looking out for them. Your employees are the group of stakeholders that can most directly lead to an increase in sales. If you want to set up something super straight-forward to track this, build a sales contest. Set an ambitious goal for your team to hit and when they do, reward them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that ties into your sports property. The satisfaction they will feel will be euphoric.
Because not every company can offer such amazing experiences, employee loyalty will no doubt increase. This approach can be attributed to lower turnover, more productive working culture, happier employees and ultimately…higher sales figures.
Few businesses do everything in-house. There’s IT, design, creative, recruitment and so much more a company needs to thrive. When you add up all of these specialties, your brand’s partner network becomes quite important to your success. It may feel a bit backward at first since you are already paying them to provide a service so shouldn’t they be treating you? In a perfect world, yes (vendors, take note).
When you look at this opportunity closer, however, what you are doing is creating a networking opportunity for everyone to come together. Hosting a partner summit, with a special appearance from one of your assets, can create unique opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Your partners will be thrilled to hear from a personality that they look up to and otherwise don’t have the chance to see.
If your partners can see how they are helping to build your business, they are incentivized to continue to do great work. They may also recognize a need in one of their other clients that your work can address, then all of a sudden you have just generated a new business lead to engage. If you bring this consistency of partner engagement and appreciation to your business, the sales growth will follow.
Higher sales won’t come over a long weekend with this approach. Activating your sponsorship is a symphony of engaging three prominent stakeholders in your business. All of which have different wants, needs, and desires that require attention with the same marketing budget. Why not market through a platform that can offer all three of your stakeholders something special?
Regularly updated for added value.