January 21, 2013

Your essential 5 New Year resolutions for the sports business industry

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The Cambridge Dictionary defines a New Year resolution as “a promise to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year” while Wikipedia states that it is “a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.”

For many that may mean spending more time with family and friends, quitting smoking, getting organised, starting that book they’ve always dreamt of writing, securing the job they’ve always coveted or the popular, if not forlorn, fitness push.

But what does that mean for the Sports Marketing and Sponsorship industry?  If making a ‘promise to yourself to start doing something good’ and ‘committing to a personal goal’ is good for Joe Public, surely it can also be good for Jack Sponsor?

Is outlining resolutions of our own the answer to how we can continue to grow in an increasingly competitive environment?  Yes. I think it could be. It’s definitely worth a try.

With that in mind, here are 5 New Year resolutions that I think the sports business industry should stick to for 2013. What are yours?


1. Keep the fan at the heart of everything you do

2013 is the year that the fan is established in their rightful position at the heart of all sponsorship programmes.

More so than any other marketing discipline, sponsorship allows brands to demonstrate relevance and truly connect on an emotional level with their fans. While best practice executives are well aware of the importance of the fan, there is still a far too significant section of the market where logo placement still leads the way.  Sponsors must ensure that the sponsorship of any event connects, or deepens a connection with their fan.

For those who have read my previous postings, you will know that this is a particular hot button for me and if you’re not doing this, it’s time to reassess your sponsorship strategy for 2013.


2. Measure, re-measure and measure again

2013 is the year to put the necessary steps in place to effectively measure and value your sponsorships.

The 12th annual IEG/Performance Research Sponsorship Decision-makers Survey found that although decision-makers want better measurement, nearly a third of sponsors allocate no budget to concurrent or post-event research. Worse still, a further 44% allocate one percent or less of their sponsorship budget to measurement.

That is not a typo.

How can you truly measure the success of a sponsorship and determine its relevance to your company or brand without necessary benchmarking? How can you deliver relevance to an audience if you know nothing about their needs?

Following the measure, re-measure and measure again mantra allows you to be critically aware of what you did well, how this happened and more importantly who you made successful connections with, ultimately allowing you to do it again in the future.


3. Re-kindle relationships

2013 is the year to start afresh with your sponsor or sponsee, remember why you formed a partnership in the first place and re-kindle that excitement.

When done correctly, a sponsor and sponsee enter into a sponsorship agreement and create a win-win-win situation. An agreement in which, sponsors connect with fans at a sponsee’s event. A sponsee drives value commercially for their company and for their fans.  While the fans get the best possible experience for their money.  Managing this relationship effectively is a key component to ensuring it remains win-win-win.

Cultivating the new relationship is easy, there is an excitement in the air and both partners are doing all they can to impress the other. But like that New Year resolution to start that fitness push, these relationships can become strained over time and can end with each doing the bare minimum to keep the relationship going.

Making an ongoing resolution to yourself to reconnect with all concerned in the sponsorship agreement is an easy way to bring more enjoyment for yourself and ensure a successful working relationship. 


4. Integrate

2013 is the year to set up internal sponsorship working groups including staff from across various units in the organisation.

A new year allows people to reflect on themselves and if necessary make changes to themselves or their surroundings in order to improve an aspect of their life. For the sponsorship industry this is the chance to re-integrate with the broader business to look at ways in which a sponsorship can be used.

Sponsorship is no-longer simply a sales & marketing tool – its benefits can be seen right across a company from employee engagement to recruitment. The onus is not just on the sponsor to do this internally but also on the sponsee to encourage the integration of the sponsorship across all business units in order to fully maximise the effectiveness of the sponsorship.

Prioritising integration and collaboration premises will allow the benefits of sponsorship best practice to quickly spread throughout your organisation.


5. Be creative!

2013 is the year to challenge the norms, throw out the old playbook and look for new and inventive ways to leverage your sponsorships.

Most in the industry will look back at 2012 as perhaps an inimitable year for sport and the business of sport.  London2012 set the benchmark for creative, modern sporting events.  with a festival that will live long in the memory while brands such as Red Bull left their own mark on the industry with the well-documented Red Bull Stratos event.

There are many ways in which to activate and leverage your sponsorships and partnerships. The key to being a truly memorable sponsor is to be unique and relevant. Take this opportunity to review your sponsorships, look at the analysis you have completed (from point 3) to discover what are the key motivators for fans and review how you can provide a win through maximising the good or minimising the bad around an event.

It’s your year to work with your internal and external partners and get creative. Be innovative and open-minded – the challenge for you should be to create 2013’s Red Bull Stratos moment. Are you up to it?



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