How Do Sponsorships Benefit the Sports Organization and the Sponsor?
Few types of sponsorships are bigger and more profitable than sports sponsorships. That’s how the world has gotten such superstar team-ups as Coca-Cola and the Olympics. Companies are willing to spend millions of dollars to sponsor sports, but why? What’s in it for them?
And what does the sports organization get out of the deal? In this article, that’s exactly what I’m going to discuss. It’s my hope that by better understanding the benefits that both sides reap in a sports sponsorship that you can begin crafting the kind of sponsorship program that will earn you more sponsors.
How Sponsorships Benefit a Sports Organization
Let’s begin by talking about how you, the sports organization, can benefit by seeking sponsorship. I know some of the benefits seem obvious, like more money and better promotion. These perks tend to have a trickle-down effect that can improve your sports organization as a whole.
Here’s what I mean.
Achieve More Goals
Is yours a new sports organization? You probably have short-term and long-term goals a mile long, I’m sure.
Your team has uniforms, but they’re admittedly cheap. Whenever your team goes head-to-head with your opponents, their outfits look legit and yours…well, not so much. You’re sure that attendees notice, which can impact their opinions on your team and thus also affect sales.
At current, your team doesn’t have its own training facility, which is another disadvantage, as all your competitors practice and prep at their own respective training areas.
You can’t even accept some of the game requests your sports team gets because you can’t afford the transportation to and from the venue, not to mention the lodging that’d be required for 10, 20, or even 30 players.
Failing to achieve these goals holds back your sports organization. Your teams risk withering away into obscurity.
Through sponsorship, you can change that. You’d have enough money to afford spiffy new uniforms for your team. Now, when they play local and away teams, your players look professional grade.
You could finally be able to pay the rent or down payment for a training facility with sponsored funding. This gives your players a home base to ready themselves for the games ahead so they have a higher chance of winning.
You’d also be able to accept more games without worrying about transportation and lodging costs. The more frequently your team plays, the further its reach goes, which should snowball into more and more games for your team.
Increased Web and Social Traffic
When a sponsor attaches their name to a sports team or event, it’s a big deal. Your organization is going to have a whole new set of eyes on it, including more attention for the teams you manage. This will result in a spike in website and social media traffic.
In anticipation of this, you must ready your website for all the new visitors. If your site is a basic templated free website, then take some of the funding you’ll receive from your sponsor and funnel it into professional web design.
Your website should be responsive on mobile and desktop devices. You want a page about your team, a schedule of your upcoming games, and make sure the link to your tickets and merch store is working.
You should have a robust social media presence too, preferably ahead of the increased traffic. When leads see that you post on social media regularly and engage with your audience, they’ll be more likely to follow you.
I do just want to mention one thing. Website traffic is great, and so is more attention on your social media profiles. However, if you’re not ready to capitalize and convert the leads you’ve attracted, then this benefit is moot.
After all, as your big game gets further and further away, the traffic will naturally drop off. You have a limited time in which to convert leads, so ready your lead magnets and your opt-in forms early. This is your big chance!
Better Attendance Numbers
As I said, when a big company agrees to sponsor you, it’s going to rouse curiosity. People who support the sponsored brand will want to attend your team’s games. The local community might come as the event generates buzz. Then your team’s regulars should also show up as they typically do.
This increase in attendance is great for your sports organization, as it feels wonderful to fill out an arena. Once new leads see how well your team plays, they might decide to attend more games in the future.
Your sponsor will also be impressed if your team performs well, which could inspire them to pen another deal with your sports organization. If it’s a multi-year deal, then you could expect a long time of full arenas.
Your audience could grow to the point where your sports team might have to begin playing at bigger venues just to keep up with demand!
It’s not only positive for morale to play in a packed arena, but it’s crucial to your sports organization’s bottom line. The more tickets you sell, the more money your organization makes. As the support behind your team grows, people will want to show their love for the team with merch, so sales should go up in that area as well.
It used to be that no one knew the names of your sports teams because they were so small. With the right sponsor, the momentum your team gains will put them on the map. In several cities or towns over, even several states over, people will have heard of your team and talk about them.
Brand awareness is something all companies strive for, including sports organizations. If you ever want your teams to reach the same level of acclaim as the Mets or the Lakers or the Ravens, you have to start small.
Your sports organization would be well on its way!
How Sports Sponsorships Benefit a Sponsor
By giving its money and/or attaching its name to a sports organization’s event, a sponsor has many benefits to reap. Let’s delve into them now.
Access to a New Target Audience
Even after amassing a sizable audience, a company doesn’t just stop. After all, customers will drop off, so a company always needs a source of reliable, potentially viable leads to pursue.
In accepting a partnership with your sports organization, the sponsor now gains access to your target audience. That’s why I always say that your audience is among one of your most valuable assets.
If your audience is part of the sponsor’s target audience, then of course the sponsor will want to convert your audience to their products and services. Your audience comes to them as qualified leads, which saves the sponsor time, effort, and cash.
Let me take a moment to differentiate a regular lead from a qualified lead. A regular lead is someone who just sort of stumbles onto a company’s sales funnel, perhaps because they saw an ad and got curious.
They don’t know anything about the company, and that includes what the company does, what it sells, and the cost of its products and services. Once the lead learns more information, they might decide to purchase, or they very well might not.
A qualified lead is someone who’s done a little more than cursory research. They understand what the company does and is aware of several products or services they sell, sometimes even all. They’re also privy to the pricing for these products and services.
Compared to a regular lead, a qualified lead is much readier to buy, which is why all sorts of companies want qualified leads. Yet it normally takes a lot of intensive research to find qualified leads.
With your audience accessible by the sponsor, it’s like you’re handing them qualified leads on a silver platter. They don’t even have to make any extra effort to find these leads.
Another area where a sponsor doesn’t have to make the extra effort is in advertising. Your sponsor likely spends thousands and thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on advertising per year. Any chance to advertise their business for free is one they’re going to jump at.
Since their name is front and center on your sports event, it’s everywhere. Consumers who weren’t aware of the sponsor company will want to learn about them, so they’ll look them up and possibly take action (such as buying a product/service) without the sponsor having to spend a cent.
Although your sports organization is the one selling tickets to the game as well as merch, that doesn’t mean the sponsor walks away with zero dollars in their pocket. Quite the contrary!
As I’ve already established, qualified leads among your audience will emerge. These leads will be readier to buy the sponsor’s products and/or services, which healthily pads their bottom line.
More Web and Social Traffic
This is one area where the benefits for a sponsor company and your sports organization intersect. As the news of your sponsored sports game begins spreading, your audience will do research about this big company that’s sponsoring you, like I said before.
This will increase the sponsor’s social traffic as well as traffic on their website. Since your sponsor is likely an established company, they have the tools in place to convert these leads. The ones they don’t convert now could convert by the time the sports game is done.
Shows That the Company Cares about the Community
In my post on why companies sponsor, I wrote about how companies are sometimes interested in trying a new role. The sponsor could be striving to connect with the community more, and what better way to do that than to support the local sports organization?
The positive press the sponsor company earns through its community involvement will only help them further the above goals.
Better Brand Awareness
I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but even the biggest brands on the planet want to increase their reach more. Sponsoring a sports organization is a great way to do that. If yours is a long-term contractual agreement, then the sponsor company’s name could be on the lips of everyone for months if not years to come.
Putting It All Together – How to Use Sponsor Benefits to Craft Your Sponsorship Program
If you want to be successful in sponsorship, you must focus more on the sponsor’s benefits than your own. It can be hard to put yourself in the backseat and the sponsor in the driver’s seat, yet it’s crucial.
Understanding the kinds of benefits the target sponsor gets and the goals they fulfill when they work with your sports organization will serve as the backbone of your sponsorship program.
Then it’s like playing a game of connect the dots. For example, if a target sponsor wants brand awareness, maybe you can strike a deal for sponsored naming rights.
Here’s what should go into your sponsorship program to ensure the target sponsor gets the benefits they need.
Do Thorough Audience Research
Your target sponsor is no doubt going to be interested in your audience, so what can you tell the sponsor about them? The sponsor will expect detailed demographics, psychographics, and geographics that are also as current as you can get ‘em.
If you haven’t taken the time lately to issue an audience survey among your customers, then you’ll have no idea if your audience hails more from Buffalo or Brooklyn. You won’t know what inspires them to come to your sports team’s games, why they buy merch, or why they signed up for your sports organization’s newsletter.
I’ve written extensively on the blog about how to do audience research, including in the link above. I know a lot of sponsorship seekers think they know their audience well enough, so there’s no need to do a survey.
To that, I say that you can always afford to know your audience better.
Besides, this isn’t only for the benefit of the target sponsor. When your sports organization understands its audience, you can market to your customers more efficiently to increase revenue.
Use the Discovery Session Wisely
The discovery session isn’t a lot of things. It’s not an informal gab session between you and the sponsor where you talk about personal matters. It’s not a sales meeting either.
Instead, the discovery session is a chance to ask questions that allow you to determine whether you can help the sponsor.
For example, let’s say you delve into their target audience or the kinds of products and services they sell. You know what your audience likes thanks to your survey. If you think the sponsor’s products and services wouldn’t gel with your target audience, then perhaps you and this sponsor are not a match.
Likewise, if their audience and yours are too disparate, then you’d want to resume the search for a sponsor.
Plan Activations That Achieve Goals
I recently wrote about high-value sponsorship opportunities, which sound like something you’re interested in, I’m sure.
In that article, I talked about having a sponsorship sales funnel where you identify the goals of your target sponsor to determine what kinds of assets to sell to them.
That’s why the discovery session is so important. Once you know what a sponsor’s goals are, you can come up with assets and activations that link the needs of your sponsor to the needs of your target audience.
I’ll use an easy example for you. Why do people go to see a sports game? To have fun, of course! If you can come up with an activation opportunity where your sponsor provides an enjoyable experience to your audience (outside of the game itself), then you’ve matched the two needs and aligned your target audience with your sponsor.
Sponsorships are a two-way street, and when done correctly, can lead to massive benefits for the sponsor and your sports organization alike. Rather than focus on your own needs, pay more attention to what the sponsor needs. If you live up to your end of the deal and deliver on the promises you made, the sponsor will do so in kind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.