As part of securing a commercial partnership with a sporting team, brand marketing teams must negotiate to decide which activities and sports properties should be leveraged, and when.
Like any good business plan, a sponsorship activity plan should be created as an annual calendar, to make the most out of every event or potential piece of content, and to ensure that the overall brand message is consistent with the sponsored team message. For example, if a brand is launching into a new market region – an event or promotion within that market makes sense. But if your team is bigger than two people, logistically this needs to be planned months out.
If your sponsorship agreement spans a few years, it’s also worth extending your marketing plan to cover those three years, so you don’t exhaust every great sponsorship idea in the first 12 months. Instead of leveraging your sponsorship 100 different ways in the first year, plan them to target two to three key activations per year.
Here is an example of a top-line plan for a three year sports sponsorship deal:
Year 1: Focus on brand and product awareness in your market. Use the team to drive your brand or product message. If the product or service is one that benefits the team (or the fans) then your partnership will make sense to the fans and the message will be received well. If your brand or product is not directly relatable to the team, that’s ok. Instead focus on the common values of the business and the team. Optus recently used Usain Bolt to deliver a message that Optus is constantly improving and will never stop trying to get better.
Year 2: Reward your Sales Team. As people become more and more aware of your products and services it’s time for the sales teams to deliver on the brand message. Meeting bigger sales targets to grow the brand is only possible with the passion and skill of the sales team. Engaging your sales team with a connection to your sports team is a great way to ignite passion and an understanding of the greater brand and team values, which are aligned of course! Rather than a brand message, the communication should be about shared experience in the pursuit of excellence. Sports teams are always training and trying to improve, so find ways that the sports team can deliver this message to your salespeople. Think conference talks, email updates, Q&As, sport experience days and money-can’t buy experiences for top performing staff.
Year 3: Reward loyal customers. Once your sales are through the roof, thanks to your brand awareness activities and sales push, you’re ready to reward the repeat customers who have spent considerable money on your products or services. Referrals and repeat business is the least expensive way to bring new business, so it’s worth keeping your most loyal customers happy and loved. And while businesses who don’t have sponsored sports teams have to rely on gourmet hampers and movie vouchers to reward their favourite customers, you can use the athletes, events and team that you sponsor. Ideas for how to best leverage your team to reward customers include: money-can’t-buy access to the team on event days or training sessions, or social entertaining with athletes and customers. If you have been working with your sports team for a few years you may have lost sight of how amazing the athletes or team is. But a customer who is not used to speaking with a professional athlete, attending private training sessions or sitting in VIP boxes at events, will thank you for the opportunity.
For more insight into how to leverage sports sponsorship for your business, contact Joshua Chant at 33 South Racing: firstname.lastname@example.org