Architecture of Sponsorship

The Architecture of a Good Sponsorship Program
It is like building a house or any sort of project, campaign or plan. There are four pillars; Foundation Basement, Blueprint, material choice, finishing. We all want to feel our sponsorships  are  doing  some  good:  for  our  company,  for  our  chosen non-profit   or   charity   organizations,   and   for   our   community.   Progressive companies and organizations  are  learning  that  sponsorship  is  on  the  rise  in Canada  and  provides  an  interesting  and  complimentary  strategic  alternative  to traditional marketing programs and public relations strategies.

One way to  make  sure  these  business  agreements  work  is  to  set  them  on  a  firm foundation   –   pillars   if   you   will.   The Partnership Group  –  Sponsorship Specialists™ defines sponsorship as “a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically  in  sports,  arts,  entertainment  or  causes)  in  return  for  the  exploitable commercial potential associated with that property”.

And a property is defined as “a physical or non-physical asset or organization that owns specified related  rights  and  sells  them  to  a  sponsor  for  the  purposes  of earning  income  for  the  organization.  (These properties  are  typically  sports, member   based   associations,   municipalities   or   government   agencies,   arts, charities, events, entertainment, nonprofit or for profit organizations).”

First  let’s  differentiate  sponsorship  from  philanthropy.  Philanthropy  is  giving from  the  heart  –  your  company  gets  a  tax  receipt  and  a  warm,  fuzzy  feeling. Sponsorship is a business arrangement and transaction meant to deliver results.

Your vision has to be pillar one. You need a clear vision of what you want to do with  the  sponsorship.  So  many  times  small  and  medium  businesses  go  into arrangements  based  on  emotion  and  don’t  use  the  traditional  goal  setting exercise which would ask what do you want to get out of the sponsorship?– and why  this  group?  Are  the  reasons  for  sponsorship  employee  participation  or retention?  Brand  awareness?  Client  connections?  Why  are  you  spending  your money here and how can this arrangement fulfill business objectives and help the non-profit  group  at  the  same  time?  Your  vision  needs  to  include  a  win-win scenario  and  asking  the  tough  questions  up  front  gives  you  the  kind  of information you need for any business investment.

Pillar two is the blueprint. It has to be how to make the sponsorship build on your visioning  exercise.  You  now  need  to  follow  that  vision  and  plan  to  what  you expect this investment to do for you. If you vision is about your employees, then how  can  a  sponsorship  engage  them,  keep  them,  make them  excited  about  the things  their  company  is  doing  in  the  community.  If it  is  brand  awareness,  how can I make sure my name is getting out there and being seen in a positive light? These are the necessary planning exercises that begin to move the company from blueprint  stage  to  the  action  stage.  It’s  where  some  of  the  tough  decisions  get made about who do I partner with, what’s our relationship?

Pillar  three  involves  the  choice  of  materials  to  build  or  what  business  tools  or resources do you have to construct a winning sponsorship event? You’ve chosen the  property  (hopefully  based  on  knowing  what  their  sponsorship  assets  are worth)  and  now  it’s  time  to  activate.  This  might  mean  helping  the  sponsor advertise  the  event,  maybe  it’s  weekly  or  monthly  update  meetings  with  the property,  maybe  it’s  enhancing  the  décor  of  the  property  to  impress  clients  and employees. It’s the little details that make building a home special – what is your crown molding for your sponsorship investment?

With these questions answered you can move to pillar four – evaluation or what’s next? Once the sponsorship has run its course, how will you evaluate what you’ve done? Leads gathered? Employee satisfaction survey? Client feedback? It’s not a win-win if you don’t measure your return on investment. What if things didn’t go how you planned – do you have an exit strategy? Let’s say things went great, do you want to do this next year? A good evaluation will tell you if the property has fulfilled  on  its  promises  (we  recommend  a  fulfillment  report), feedback  from  all areas of your business should tell you how well things went and your clients will tell you through their actions what your return on investment really was. Build it and they will come, maybe, but good planning is at the bottom of any successful business venture.
Submitted  by  Brent  Barootes,  President, Partnership  Group  –  Sponsorship Specialists™.