When done correctly, sponsorship is great for business. It provides laser-targeted marketing and promotional opportunities that other channels can’t match. It’s this focus that elevates sponsorship above other channels and why you should be sponsored.
Traditional marketing and advertising rely on interrupting people to get their attention. For example, consider TV advertising, website pop-up banners, or telemarketing.
On the other hand, sponsorship is all about creating and enhancing experiences, weaving the sponsor’s brand into an interactive and memorable exchange with the audience.
Compare the shotgun approach of a typical broadcast advert to a well-crafted fan experience sponsored by a brand that shares your target audience. Which one is going to be more effective when it comes to brand awareness and lead generation? The sponsored fan experience, of course!
Sometimes, however, we need to help our sponsors understand why partnering with us is such a smart business decision.
Here are 6 reasons to help you explain to your prospective sponsor why your sponsorship opportunity is good for their business. Make sure to customize these to suit your sponsor’s objectives and include them in your marketing material.
1 – The halo effect
The halo effect is the positive influence that extends from a person, property, or event to an associated sponsor.
An obvious example is when an athlete endorses a brand. Fans are more likely to feel positively towards the brand due to their feelings for the athlete.
The power of the halo effect comes from what’s known as a cognitive bias, unconsciously transferring our positive feelings for one thing onto something else. In our case, that something else is the sponsor, and the effect is emotional involvement and commitment to their brand.
When a sponsor partners with you, they gain the benefit of the halo effect. Integrate this with a well-thought-out marketing and activation strategy, and you have a recipe for success.
2 – An engaged and passionate audience of fans
Businesses are always looking for paths or channels directly to their target audience.
If they’re targeting 25 to 35-year-old professionals, they may concentrate on social media and other forms of digital advertising. For retirees, print or TV advertising may be more appropriate.
Whatever the case, the business must actively search for and build this audience. This will take a significant amount of time and money, from testing the messaging to focusing on the right audience segment.
With sponsorship, however, you are delivering a ready-to-go audience of engaged and passionate fans. You know your audience, and you know what makes them tick.
You’ve already done much of the hard work, building an audience that aligns with the sponsor’s brand and objectives. By sharing your deep understanding of your audience with the sponsor, together, you can design an activation strategy to generate leads and ultimately a healthy return on their investment.
3 – Irresistible experiences
In the digital age, customers are becoming more and more difficult to reach with traditional marketing methods. Customers can tune out and switch off from interruption marketing. We subscribe to Netflix to avoid ads; we block pop-ups in our browsers and mark emails as spam.
Businesses are looking for alternative methods to connect with customers more meaningfully and cut through all the noise. This is where sponsorship shines.
Sponsorship allows businesses to create personal experiences which combine the brand message, interactive elements, and your audience in a live setting.
According to “Experiential Marketing, Secrets, Strategies, and Success Stories from the World’s Greatest Brands – Kerry Smith and Dan Hanover,” the core experience strategy elements are:
- Connection – What type of connections will you create with the audience? Emotional, educational, delight?
- Control – How much control will you have over the experience? Strict control to control by the audience?
- Content – What type of content will be produced by the audience experience?
- Currency – What will you charge the audience for the experience? This does not need to be a fee. Currency includes agreeing to a trial, supplying personal information, and social sharing.
- Conversion – What will represent a conversion? Is it a sale, a new lead, or a promotion by an influencer?
These experiences create genuine relationships with the audience and promote emotional involvement and commitment. They can range from simple on-site promotions and product samplings all the way up to mega-budget productions like Bud Light’s Up For Whatever Happens campaign.
The aim is to work with your sponsor to create irresistible and memorable experiences which align with their brand and objectives.
4 – Social proof and influence
Social proof is the phenomenon where others influence our behavior. We assume that decisions by people around us are correct and, therefore, should be followed.
For example, when choosing between a busy restaurant and an empty restaurant, we assume the busy one is better. There’s no direct proof of this, except that one is more popular (social proof).
Sponsorship allows your business partners to tap into social proof from these 4 sources:
- Influencers – These are your super fans, your evangelists. When they speak, your fans listen. Therefore, you should aim to cultivate and develop a relationship with your influencers
- Celebrities – Primarily focused on the sport, arts, and entertainment sectors, celebrities can have a great deal of influence over people. Whether internal or external to your organization, leverage their fame to support your sponsors
- Experts – Primarily focused on the business and educational sectors, experts have significant authority in their fields. Leverage their authority to support your sponsors
- Fans – The power of the crowd. Fans share with their families, friends, and each other
Your job is to show sponsors the power of social proof and how to leverage these sources.
- Create branded experiences that to share via social media
- Partner with experts and celebrities to endorse sponsors
- Develop relationships with your influencers and integrate them with your marketing activities
5 – Interactive content
Have you heard the phrase “content is king”? It’s the title of an essay written by Microsoft’s Bill Gates in 1996. It’s even more valid today than the year it was written.
Businesses are always looking for ways to generate content to share with their customers to enhance their relationships and loyalty. One of the benefits of an audience experience is generating and publishing unique and interactive content. For example:
- Event-specific information; pre, during, and post
- Photos and videos
- Live streams
- Written content
- Sales promotions and product announcements
- Audience testimonials
This content is then fed into the marketing mix to promote the business and strengthen relationships with current and potential customers.
6 – Word-of-mouth referrals
Without a doubt, word-of-mouth referrals are one of the very best sources of sales leads. When a good friend, favorite celebrity, or trusted advisor recommends something, you usually listen.
Combining an engaged audience with the halo effect and social proof creates an environment rich with word-of-mouth referral opportunities for your sponsors.
Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you’re running an event, and you target the top 5% of attendees based on their attendance record and how much they actively promote the event. These are your evangelists, your most engaged audience members.
Create a special experience for your evangelists, partnering with your sponsor to leverage the halo effect. This could be VIP access with all the trimmings. As part of this experience, the evangelists have exclusive access to sample and purchase the latest sponsor products and services in the VIP lounge.
Your evangelists are usually authority figures and influencers within your audience. Leverage the social proof and provide opportunities to share their experience with others, be it person-to-person or via social media.
The 6 reasons you should be sponsored are:
- The halo effect
- An engaged and passionate audience of fans
- Irresistible experiences
- Social proof and influence
- Interactive content
- Word-of-mouth referrals
Some or all of these will be relevant for you and your sponsor. Therefore, focus on their objectives and include these strategically throughout your communications with the sponsor.
Happy sponsorship seeking, Kym.
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