Picking a Sponsorship
The process of picking a sponsorship starts with having a clear idea of what your organization’s business and marketing goals are. While that seems like an obvious point, precise goals aren’t always agreed upon within an organization. Having differing goals between stakeholders is a recipe for a failed sponsorship.
There are various sponsorship evaluation methods, for use before and after sponsorships have occurred, that have been developed by expert marketers. One such method is the Sprint Sponsorship Vision Project (the “Sprint method”), which uses the following criteria to evaluate and rank sponsorship opportunities:
- Revenue opportunities for the company
- The ability to integrate your service/product into the event
- Costs, including non-monetary costs
- Exposure to the company’s target market
- Company image enhancement
- The competitive advantage gained in the marketplace
- The entertainment opportunities that are gained through the sponsorship
- The opportunity to show the company’s commitment to the community
Considering sponsoring a local sporting event? A Canadian study on corporate sponsorship of sports found the most important criteria for that type of sponsorship are as follows:
- Corporate exclusivity
- Increased company/brand awareness
- Reinforced company/brand image
- Extent to which signage can be present at events
- Ability to target spectators
- Increased sales/trial of product/service
Measuring the Success of a Sponsorship
Here are a couple of thoughts on evaluating the success of sponsorships:
- The impressions generated by a sponsorship can be measured (or approximated), yet they’re distractions from what really matters, a worthwhile return on your investment. These returns can be financial (i.e., generating ready-to-transact leads) and/or increased consumer awareness of the services you offer as a real estate professional.
- Brands with significant ad budgets and brand awareness need sponsorships less for visibility than for the opportunity to obtain or improve upon a positive association. As a Coca-Cola marketing director once stated, “Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognizable trademark. However, if you did a survey on the streets of Chicago and asked people what was more important to them, Coca-Cola or the Chicago Bulls, nine out of 10 would probably say the Bulls. We accept that and try to borrow that equity by becoming their sponsor.” The same can be said for familiar local businesses, like your real estate business, that want to maintain a positive image in their communities.
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How to Achieve Success With Your Sponsorship
Any real estate professional considering sponsoring an event or organization should keep these success strategies in mind:
- Have clear objectives. For example, should your sponsorship aim to improve the visibility of your real estate business and the development of relationships with prospective clients? These will help determine where you should focus your energy.
- Be proactive in creating sponsorship opportunities. Don’t just accept any standard sponsorship package that you’re offered – develop a set of criteria for what your ideal sponsorship looks like and then evaluate opportunities from there. One example of a reasonable request to make is visibility and links on the event or organization’s website; this will provide referral traffic to your website and SEO benefits to boot. In our experience, it’s easy to convince events and organizations to make such concessions.
- Find an exceptional fit. There’s no lack of events or organizations to sponsor, from AA baseball teams to local high school events, so pick the one that will maximize the benefits your business will receive.
- Do fewer sponsorships with greater intensity. The benefits received by the most generous sponsors greatly exceed those of the lowest-level sponsors. Spreading your sponsorship money thinly over many events will generate far fewer benefits for your business than if you devoted all of it to a single event. The 18th-century Prussian king Frederick the Great, who famously said “He who defends everything defends nothing,” would probably agree with the statement “The real estate professional who sponsors everything gets nothing in return.”
- Actively manage the sponsorship. Far too often, businesses wait for the event or organization they’re sponsoring to provide cues about when and how they should act. The reality is sponsors’ desires can easily become an afterthought. Although event planners and organizations want to please their sponsors, their sponsors’ wishes can be difficult to keep top of mind.