Whether aligning your brand with a sports property, community event or cause-related effort, corporate sponsorships require a significant investment of time, energy and money.
Ted Cox, Director of Marketing Partnerships at The Superlative Group, a sports and relationship marketing firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, has been putting sponsorship dollars to work for corporations, colleges and communities.
For Cox, the real work happens prior to signing on the dotted line. "Making the best use of your sponsorship dollars requires thorough research, target marketing and asking for more," Cox says.
According to Cox, an effective sponsorship or event can produce lasting dividends long after the initial investment.
"Corporations spend millions of dollars annually trying to leverage relationships, increase brand recognition and drive product sales. Doing so effectively enables them to realize those benefits over a period of time much longer than the initial investment. To achieve those benefits companies have to spend their budget in a strategic manner," Cox says.
The following guide will allow you to stretch those dollars and make your sponsorship budget more effective.
Do your homework: Make time to find out everything about your potential sponsorship partner. Get to know its high level executives, how it plans to market its property, as well as the trends in the industry. This provides a concise understanding of stability as well as future expectations of your alliance.
Reach your potential consumers: What type of property will most likely turn its fans into yours? Study demographic data and match it to your products and services. This is a simple theory that is commonly overlooked because of bias against or an emotional attachment to a particular property.
Create a return on your investment: Signage, media and merchandising elements included in sponsorships provide brand-building opportunities, but will it drive sales? Benefits such as business-to-business alliances, retail promotions that place your product in a new setting, and direct introductions to other corporate decision-makers really provide a measurable way to see a return on your investment dollars.
Property flexibility and adaptability: Does the sponsorship property listen to your goals and needs? Or does it lump you in with all of the others with a "boiler plate" package? Demand creativity and establish proprietary ownership of sponsorship components that your competitors can't ambush.
Sponsorship Terms: Push for clauses like category exclusivity, first right of refusal for renewal, and escape methods if the property doesn't deliver as promised. Ask for added-value elements, and remember everything, especially the asking price, is negotiable.