What sounds like a simple difference in wording turns out to be the most important distinction in sports business. As digital media continues to command more of our attention and marketing dollars, there have been some important changes to traditional approaches to sports and entertainment. To maximize value for your brand, the key is finding the balance of investment between sponsorship rights and activation programs.
First, the definitions of each:
Sponsorship rights are what you bought.
Advertising that seeks to establish a deeper association and integration between an advertiser and a publisher.
Sponsorship gives you the right to access an agreed upon set of assets like branding on the team's uniforms, special driver appearances, etc. Because this is the most glamorous element of sports marketing, brands often overpay for the basic rights thinking that is all they need to see ROI.
This unfortunately falls short, and the most common sources of failure quickly rise to the surface.
Within motorsports, there is a host of wide-ranging value waiting to be captured by active sponsors. Here is a tool that shows you what opportunities are most popular. There are also short descriptions of each asset and what they can bring to the table.
Sponsorship activation is what you do with what you bought.
Sponsorship activation is a marketing term used to indicate a corporate sponsor’s intention to independently promote and advertise its involvement with a particular marketing asset.
Obtaining sponsorship rights that provide assets you need to address your objectives is an important step. However, the activation is absolutely the most important element of marketing your product or service through sponsorships. This is where you will develop ways to engage your employees, partners and customers with what you are doing. It allows you to differentiate your brand from your competitors through the partnerships and storytelling available.
It is also the area where you will see the connection to business results form. The work that goes on behind the logos on TV is often the most crucial to see return, and that's what creates sustainability.
If you buy something and don't do anything with it, you're missing out on its value.
Think about buying yourself a new Rolex. For now, you can equate this new Rolex to a sponsorship. If you buy that Rolex and just let it sit on your desk, not wound and not keeping time, it doesn't do anything for you. It is nice to have in your possession, but it won't be generating future value for you. It won't even be starting new conversations like it could be doing if you were to wind it up and wear it.
Letting a new Rolex sit on your desk is a bit like buying a sponsorship and not activating it. New rights to access certain things don't do much for you without proper programs strategically designed to take advantage of what you have bought. If you have a set budget you are looking to use most effectively, the activation bucket is what you want to prioritize for the highest ROI possible.
Use this link below to get started exploring the different opportunities available for you to make the most of.
Updated for added value.