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02 Aug

Our company is frequently offered sponsorship opportunities but how do we decide and evaluate what these are really worth?

Our company is frequently offered sponsorship opportunities but how do we decide and evaluate what these are really worth?

Our company is frequently offered sponsorship opportunities but how do we decide and evaluate what these are really worth?

You’re way ahead of the game already by just considering this! All too often organisations enter sponsorship arrangements without any clear idea of whether the recipient matches their culture and brand, what benefits they can hope to achieve from the sponsorship or the potential downside to the arrangement, and that’s where the problems start…

Sponsorship is basically a friendly way of marketing. You’re telling everyone that your company supports a particular scheme – whether it’s Guinness sponsoring the 6 Nations rugby tournament or Marks & Spencer Food sponsoring ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent TV show (more on that one later…) so that fans of the event become more likely to like and trust you and your products or services. The very fact that you have sponsored something that your prospects like, shows that you also support the same cause and are therefore the good guys whereas research shows that exposure to advertising immediately puts consumers’ guards up. 

So, as Spock might have said, “It’s advertising, Jim, but not as we know it.” and having established that it should be part of any marketing budget, how do you decide between the various opportunities you are offered? 

Firstly, be clear as to why you’re sponsoring something – it may well not be for commercial gain but part of your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme, pure altruism or some other reason – the MD’s daughter plays for the school’s netball team so we’ll pay for their strips etc. 

Secondly, however altruistic your decision may or may not be, you also want to be aware of the potential damage to your brand – look at Newcastle United accepting Wonga’s money (there was nothing altruistic about that deal) – did the club really want to be associated with a pay day lender charging exorbitant interest rates? On a similar vein, the amount of money sloshing around from online gambling may be initially attractive to sports clubs until some of the tragic stories of gambling addiction receive more publicity…

Which brings us back to M&S Food and Britain’s Got Talent – do the two brands mesh? M&S Food’s a premium retailer and, according to YouGov, 74% of Brits have a positive opinion of the brand with just 6% a negative opinion. M&S Food fans describe it as ‘classy’, ‘attractive’ and ‘cream of the crop’. Meanwhile, Britain’s Got Talent’s respective scores are 37% and 43% - there is a clear disconnect with the M&S brand and BGT audience. M&S are obviously betting that exposure to such a massive 11.2m audience will repay their investment, and while they’re probably correct in the short term, the longer-term impact could do more harm than good as there is a risk the sponsorship will ‘de-premiumise’ the brand and lose M&S some of its loyal customers. Only the all-important Christmas sales figures this year will reveal the answer.

Thirdly, is the cost relatively small to the exposure you will achieve? This is true no matter what the scale of your investment may be whether it’s Hyundai paying £5m to sponsor Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to more modest deals – what would the alternative cost be to achieve this exposure? As part of this consider how you gain as much leverage as possible from your investment – can you give presentations, can you access their database etc

Fourthly, is the audience aligned with your ideal or targeted customers? If, like ourselves, your ideal client are managers of mid-sized companies then local sports club sponsorship is a realistic prospect, but if you’re trying to promote, for example, luxury super yachts, the NE amateur sports community, with all due respect, whilst offering very reasonably priced proposals, would most probably yield little return.

Fifthly, are there other sponsors, are they aligned to your brand because rightly or wrongly we’re judged on the company we keep, and what is their relative exposure – if you’re going to be lost amongst the bigger boys, forget it.

Finally, and probably most importantly, do you support the cause, because if you don’t, walk away. When you’re invited to events or questioned, it’ll become obvious your only interest is financial and it may hurt your brand more than any benefit gained.

Do you need some assistance with your marketing, PR or design? Do you need to review your strategy or do you want to know how we can help your business? Talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to us today hello@silverbulletmarketing.co.uk  or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR . 

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