In all my guidance on this blog, I always talk up the importance of high-quality assets and activation ideas. I do this for a reason. After all, your assets and activation are what you sell to the sponsor. You want to earn a premium, so they have to be worth buying.
I’ve had a lot of clients come to me asking for advice on finding assets that are worth selling, both for events and other opportunities. They’re also usually struggling with activation ideas.
We’ve all been there. It only takes going to a sponsor with logos as the top asset in your sponsorship package to realize that assets really are the make-or-break part of your sponsorship program.
That’s why in this post, I want to help you discover more of those high-value assets no matter what kind of sponsorship property is currently in your portfolio.
How the Sponsorship Sales Funnel Helps You Identify Assets
When the time comes to put together assets, most first-time sponsorship seekers inevitably all end up asking the same question. That is: “what can I sell the sponsor that will make me the most money?”
This seems like the logical question to start with, right? You need X amount of dollars, so if you can find a handful of assets that are equal to that value, you’d be all set.
What I implore you to ask is a different question. How far down your sponsor’s sales funnel can you bring your audience?
I know, a question like this takes more thought, foresight, and planning to answer. The effort though is worth it. As you get further down the sales funnel, you begin realizing the potential for more and more high-quality assets.
For example, let’s say the target sponsor you’re currently pursuing is a car dealership. Before you think of a single asset, even off the top of your head, you need to ask yourself how a car dealership would measure success.
What are their goals? Well, that’s easy, a car dealership wants to sell cars. With that in mind, you’d go to the target sponsor and ask them what their customers usually do before they commit to buying a car.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t purchase a new vehicle without a test drive first. So now you’re asking what a customer does before the test drive. That would be arriving at the car lot. Okay, but how do you get the customer to the car lot? You invite them. How do you invite customers? Through email, marketing, and advertising.
I know some of this seems like really common sense stuff, but those parts are your car dealership sponsorship sales funnel. It starts with email/marketing, then the customer is invited to the car lot, then they arrive at the lot, they take a test drive, and finally, they purchase a car.
Most first-time sponsorship seekers tend to focus their assets outside of the sales funnel in the awareness stage. If logos are at the top of your assets list, then you’re doing the same.
I know, I know, I have not had much nice to say about logos, but you need to know their placement in the sales pipeline. It’s low, very low, and so is their monetary value. I’m talking cents here.
Cherry-Picking High-Value Assets from the Sponsorship Sales Funnel
How can you sniff out the lower-value assets versus the higher-value ones? It’s simple. Go back to your sponsorship sales funnel. Look at each part of the funnel from beginning to end. Then ask yourself a simple question. What is the value of __?
So we’ll start at the beginning of this car dealership sponsorship sales funnel. What’s the value of getting an email address? What’s the value of an activity or contest that would encourage people to come to the car lot?
This is where activation ideas come in. If you can execute an experimental opportunity that really clicks with the car dealership’s audience, then you’re going to have a huge turnout. If that activation idea inspires the dealership’s audience to take a test drive, then you’re really in the money now.
The way these assets are organized from most to least profitable is known as the value ladder. While your sponsorship sales funnel is a wider triangle that becomes more streamlined, it’s the opposite for the value ladder. This implies that the value of your assets is greater as the ladder progresses.
Here’s what I mean.
However, do keep in mind that the opposite can be true too. For instance, since you can’t sell cars for the dealership but you can help get them test drives, this is the most valuable asset you can offer.
Yet if for some reason you can’t assist them in that area and can only get people to the car lot, the value of your assets is less. If all you can help the dealership with is marketing, then your assets are the least valuable per the value ladder.
4 Tips for Awesome Activation Ideas
Evaluating assets is a rather straightforward process once you know what you’re doing. You look at the value of specific assets in your geographical area and use market value to guide you in pricing your assets. What’s not quite so cut and dried is creating activation ideas.
While I wish there was a formula for brainstorming five-star activation ideas every time, I have yet to find it. Until that formula exists, here are some tips that might help you stumble upon your own five-star ideas.
Remember the Sponsor’s Goals
That ice-skating conga line of people in penguin costumes will definitely turn heads. Yet if you’re not achieving your sponsor’s goals with your activation ideas, then it’s all flash and no substance.
In my post called The Essential Guide to Sponsorship Valuation, I recommend asking yourself a few questions as you draft activation ideas. Those questions include “what do our sponsors want to achieve?” and “what actions do they want our audience to take?” You should also certainly ask “what do our sponsors want more of and what do they hate?”
Let your answers be your guide to which activation ideas are appropriate and which may be better saved for another sponsor or a different event entirely.
Putting together a sponsorship program requires a lot of research into your audience and the target sponsor. Then you have to crunch numbers and valuate assets. When you get to the point where you’re planning activation ideas, you finally get to flex your creative muscle.
Take this opportunity and run with it. Enjoy it too, as it’s a nice little reprieve before you’re in meetings with the sponsor asking discovery questions.
Being willing to think outside of the box can produce some spectacular results. I’ve heard through the sponsorship grapevine about the tale of a sponsored event where the activation idea was to have fire dancers spell the sponsor’s name in flames.
That’s a whole other level of creativity. I can tell you now that from what I heard, the fire dancers made a huge splash at the event, and the people who were there to see it still talk about it years later. I know I’ve mentioned it a lot on this blog as well.
If you have a rather off-the-wall idea, don’t discard it. It could just become your activation idea that people still fondly bring up long after it happened!
Take a Successful Idea and Put Your Own Spin on It
I do want to stress that activation ideas don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you saw a really cool booth or interactive event at a local trade show, you can replicate that for your own event. That said, you want to make your activation idea unique from what you saw before it.
Think of what little spin you can put on the activation idea so it’s special. If it was a giveaway, then maybe you do a giveaway too, but the prize is better. Using the car dealership example, you could come up with a fun contest where the winner gets a new car. That will surely get people to the dealership!
Keep Your Budget in Mind
I wouldn’t say that the sky is the limit when it comes to activation ideas because your budget is the limit. You know how much money you can reasonably spend on activation. Make sure you stick within that range.
If you have a really killer idea that’s too expensive, sit down with a few key members of your company and try to figure out if you can simplify or strip down the idea. If you can’t, then save it for a rainy day when you have a bigger budget.
Great activation ideas don’t always have to be expensive, by the way. From free wine or beer tastings to branded phone-charging stations or even photo walls, these are low-cost, high-impact experiential opportunities that are worth selling to your sponsors.
If you’re struggling to find high-value assets and activation opportunities, the sponsorship sales funnel will be your guide. Assessing the parts of the funnel then allows you to create an inverse value ladder that will reveal where the highest-priced assets are hiding.
Do you still need more help with assets and activation? In How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program, my free training program, I reveal a nine-part blueprint for bettering and growing your sponsorship program. Check it out today!
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
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