Sports sponsorship is a hugely effective marketing tool for both large and small companies, and for every type of brand – whether new or already well known. Direct sales impact, extraordinary image returns and improved brand positioning are just three of its many benefits.
As sports sponsorship experts, we are often contacted by companies who want to invest in this area but aren’t sure where to start. In this blog post, we’ll set out seven questions that you need to ask yourself if you’re about to enter the world of sports sponsorship. The answers we provide should help you create an initial frame for a sponsorship project.
1.What are your brand values?
Every company has brand values – the guiding principles that determine the strategic choices, and give a picture of the brand identity. Innovation, speed, emotion, passion, environmental sustainability, solidity, strength and teamwork are just a few examples of the values that brands might have in their DNA.
Sporting championships have their own brand values too. F1, for example, has technology, performance and speed, whilst MotoGP is based on innovation, passion and emotion.
To build an effective sports sponsorship campaign you must tie your corporate values to those of the sports team or championship, aligning to tell a unique and coherent story.
2. Are you a B2B or B2C company?
Obviously there are sports, teams and events that have more B2C visibility than others. Football, MotoGP and Formula 1 make up the lion’s share in Europe when it comes to television audiences, making them an excellent tool for B2C companies who might want to leverage them for sports sponsorship campaigns.
On the B2B side, companies who want to attract the attention of other businesses can leverage hospitality opportunities, or other privileged experiences that are tailored to potential clients’ needs.
Working out which of these audiences you need to attract should be one of your first objectives when planning a sports sponsorship campaign.
3. What are your target markets?
When it comes to sports sponsorship, geographic markets are important. Where are your customers? Do you have local, national, or global interests? Above all, are you going to expand your business – or would you prefer to focus on where you are currently?
Of course, some sports work better than others in specific parts of the world. Cricket, for example, is a national sport in India and Pakistan and is hugely popular in Australia and England – but is unknown in Italy. The same applies to American Football – most Europeans don’t even know the rules. The sport with widest global reach is probably football, or perhaps Formula 1 – the highest level of world motoring, with a huge global audience and fans in many countries.
When you want to speak to several territories at the same time, it’s essential to be aware of the specifics of each market – whilst still finding the things that they have in common.
4. Who is your consumer / client?
Understanding this is key to successful sports sponsorship. Creating communications that are in line with the profile of your audience is the best way to be effective, and to not dilute your message or resources.
Consumer demographics are complicated, and include age, sex, economic capacity and frequency of purchase. Some of the world’s biggest companies have identified their audience profile with enough clarity to create truly defined groups – think of “Apple users”, whose loyalty often goes far beyond simply owning a computer or phone.
Every sport, team and event is a world in itself, with a well-defined target audience. In modern sport, a huge amount of audience data is analysed, and the outline of each “spectator-type” is established. Of course, the audience must align with the brand in the sponsorship campaign – for example, adrenaline sports attract a very young, male audience, while the target of events related to several athletics disciplines is typically females aged over 25.
5. What length of sports sponsorship programme do you want?
Every business marketing strategy is different – some campaigns need to be long-term in order to be slowly accepted by the consumer, whilst in other cases the impact on the market must be immediate and lead to fast results – for example with the launch of a new product.
In sports sponsorship, brands obviously can’t expect to see full results in one day. However, there are certainly programmes that can generate an instant impact – for example event sponsorship, which condenses all the visibility in a single powerful moment.
6. Do you currently have other marketing operations under way?
Sports sponsorship is a marketing tool that can be mixed with others for excellent results. You might choose to also run content marketing operations, utilise social networks, or use famous faces as ambassadors in an advertising campaign. It’s necessary to use all the elements possible, to bring the sponsorship in line with the other operations.
Sponsorship is a highly flexible tool, which can provide great material for content and social media marketing. Through sports sponsorship, celebrities can often be used to create great stories, increase the reach of social networks, and create memorable experiences during events, whilst photos and videos from teams, athletes and events can be used to create billboards and high impact advertising.
7. What’s your budget?
This is an important question to ask yourself so that you can maximize the effectiveness of your investment.
On this blog we’ve discussed the cost of sponsorships, giving budget ideas and explaining that – despite the flexibility – there are still defined price ranges within which it is possible to operate. Sports sponsorship campaigns can range from a few thousand Euros for a local sports club to the 1.1 billion that Adidas has just spent to sponsor Real Madrid. Dizzying figures, which allow some of the world’s most important brands to be on the jerseys of the most prestigious teams and athletes in the world.
But these amounts are not always necessary. There are sports sponsorship projects in MotoGP starting at 100,000 Euros, or you could become an official sponsor of a basketball team with a few tens of thousand. 20,000 allows you to become a partner of a Serie B football team, and 5,000 will get you sponsorship of a Serie A ice hockey team.
Ready to talk more about sports sponsorship? Contact RTR Sports Marketing