What Is Omnichannel Sponsorship?
It’s a term you haven’t been able to escape if you’ve followed sponsorship trends for 2023. I’m talking about omnichannel sponsorship, of course.
If you by chance haven’t heard this term thrown around yet, trust me when I say that it’s only a matter of time. The omnichannel model is on the rise in marketing, sales, and now sponsorship too. It’s going to affect how you pursue sponsors in the future, possibly even in the very near future!
That’s why I thought now was the perfect time to put together a guide telling you everything you need to know about omnichannel sponsorship.
Let’s dive right in!
Omni-What? What Does Omnichannel Mean?
Let’s break it down by first discussing the meaning of omnichannel. It’s one of those words that sounds really cool, but if you’re not privy to its meaning, you can use it and apply it incorrectly.
Omnichannel refers to a business strategy and neologism that uses multiple channels or forms of communication at once. It’s often used in service, sales, and marketing but has since begun to bleed over into sponsorship too.
When you break it down, the word omnichannel is a literal definition. The word “omni” means “all,” so it’s all channels.
However, there are some ground rules with omnichannel communications. No matter the channel a marketer or salesperson uses, they’re still providing a reliable brand experience to customers.
For example, let’s say that a younger audience prefers to interact with a company on social media. You can even go more specific than that and say they prefer to use TikTok.
A customer who interacts with the company on TikTok will still get the same high-level experience as one who’s engaging in their emails.
The experience doesn’t have to be identical, and by the very nature of using different channels, it cannot be. However, the quality and the branding do have to be identical.
Building this consistency and answering consumer demands–whether they prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar shop or exclusively online, browse from their desktop or their smartphone, or interact on social media versus email as mentioned–builds trust and loyalty that converts leads and keeps customers coming back for more.
Omnichannel marketing has existed for years, but it really became something more people began talking about around the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies were forced to shut down their brick-and-mortar stores.
They didn’t want to be forgotten about, especially at a time when businesses needed cash more than ever. So they began to introduce other channels–or rely more heavily on channels they hadn’t really utilized–to interact and engage with customers, keep their name at the forefront, and generate sales.
It worked, enough so that many of these businesses decided to continue to keep these channels open even when the threat of the pandemic passed and brick-and-mortar stores reopened.
So What Is Omnichannel Sponsorship? What Does It Mean for the Future of Sponsorship?
Now that you understand the basics of omnichannel marketing, we can take that and apply it to sponsorship.
Omnichannel sponsorship means using various media forms and tactics to fulfill a sponsor’s goals.
You might not be a marketer or a salesperson either, so you’re wondering where omnichannel communications come into play for your sponsorship endeavors. The answer is simple.
Companies are increasingly embracing the omnichannel model, not out of desire or interest but necessity. As a society, we have more communication and shopping options at our fingertips than ever before.
Don’t like the phone? Okay, you can always text. Don’t feel like going out? That’s what online shopping is for. Prefer videos? Try TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram. Don’t mind a bit of reading with your social media? Use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Consumers expect to have multiple options to interact with a company, and more so, they expect those options to be tailored to their needs and preferences at any given time.
You can’t predict what a consumer will want or need from day to day, which is why using omnichannel marketing is so advantageous. You can cover all your bases at once.
That brings us back to you, the sponsorship seeker. You provide assets, activations, and opportunities to a sponsor in exchange for promotions or funding, possibly both. You might even accept in-kind items.
As omnichannel marketing continues to ascend, more of your potential sponsors will begin asking for an omnichannel approach in the assets and activations you offer.
If you’re unable or unwilling to provide for the sponsor, they’ll move on to someone who can.
Of course, not every sponsor will necessarily think the same way. You’ll always have the old-school bunch who don’t know what omnichannel communications entail and are fine keeping things the way they are.
However, as time goes by, more of those old-school types of sponsors are vanishing left and right. Replacing them are savvier sponsors who keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the business world.
You don’t have to turn around and be ready to present omnichannel-influenced offerings to your sponsor tomorrow, but you do want to understand how sponsorship demands will likely change in the coming years (and maybe sooner!) so you can be ready to answer the call.
Don’t just think of embracing omnichannel methods as serving your sponsors. Your audience benefits from you expanding your offerings during events, programs, and opportunities and interacting with them in a way that suits their communication styles and preferences.
Omnichannel Sponsorship Tips
How can you begin incorporating omnichannel tactics into your current sponsorship processes? The following tips will help you do it!
Learn Your Sponsor’s Brand
Omnichannel communications are all about retaining the brand message, voice, and tone across various communication channels. You’ll want to carry on your sponsor’s brand as best you can, but you can’t do that without fully understanding the brand.
During the discovery session, dedicate some time to discussing the sponsor’s brand. If you run out of time during that initial meeting, make sure you ask questions about the brand during a subsequent meeting.
What colors exemplify the brand? What are the exact color codes so you can get the hues right? What is the brand voice? Ask the sponsor to use adjectives to describe the voice, such as sexy, friendly, mysterious, or smart.
Ask for some brand materials so you can read blog posts, website copy, emails, and social media copy in that brand voice.
You can get the branding right for the sponsor; after all, many people within the sponsor company contribute to the brand experience, not only one. However, it takes some doing.
Know the Ingredients for a Stellar Omnichannel Customer Experience
How do you craft omnichannel customer experiences that will make your next event, program, or opportunity a success? You must use these five ingredients or components of the omnichannel experience.
- Agility: Agility doesn’t refer to your physical speed in this sense but your ability to embrace technology to guide operations forward and scale them up when you see chances for growth.
- Empowerment: Empowering customers keeps them loyal so they’re likelier to convert to your sponsor’s customers and keep eagerly attending your events. Empowerment begins with information. When a customer has as much information on a company and its products and services as they need, they can make a purchasing decision they’re comfortable with.
- Relevance: Relevance in omnichannel communications refers to how relevant the materials are to customers. Consumers want personalized interactions delivered in real time.
- Consistency: Remember, it’s critical to understand and unify a definition of a brand during an omnichannel sponsorship campaign. Veering from that brand can alienate audiences, hurting the sponsor’s chances of successfully converting.
- Convenience: What kinds of channels should you focus on in omnichannel sponsorship? The ones that are most convenient to your audience. You can ask a question about the kinds of communications they prefer in your audience survey.
Niche Down Your Audience
Omnichannel communications–and, by a broader extent, omnichannel sponsorship–requires personalization, personalization, and more personalization.
How can you possibly tailor an experience to your audience without understanding them? That’s just it, you can’t.
If you haven’t already issued an audience survey getting to know the people who attend your events or otherwise interact with your company or organization, you must.
I’ve written many guides on the blog with sample questions to ask to milk the most information out of your attendees or customers.
Once you have audience information, begin splitting your audience. It’s okay if it’s into broad groups at first, but you want to build upon that more and more, niching your groups down into smaller, finer groups.
What kind of criteria can you use to do that? You can take areas like demographics, geographics, and psychographics and niche them way down, like down to precise job titles and specific neighborhoods. I recommend at least 25 data points on each audience group.
It’s going to take time to do this kind of segmentation, but sponsors have always appreciated this kind of effort. It only takes them one look at your audience data to know if you have the kind of customers that comprise their target market.
Omnichannel communications are more than a sales or marketing tactic. They’re going to make their way into sponsorship sooner than later as consumers grow to expect more omnichannel options and sponsors seek to incorporate omnichannel marketing into their event participation.
I hope you’re now a little readier for what’s to come!
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.