Sponsorship Objectives: Why Brands Use Sponsorship
While advertising delivers information and can tell a brand story, brands use sponsorship to reach targeted consumers through their passions to achieve brand objectives. For brands, knowing that a certain passion point (yoga, country music, etc.) over indexes with its target audience is not enough to justify sponsorship investment. Objectives must align with insights to enable marketers to generate the right plan to drive business results. With certain sponsorship deals, brands can impact multiple sponsorship objectives, while other sponsorships might only make an impact on one core objective. But it is imperative that all sponsorships tie back to at least one core objective! So what are some of the sponsorship objectives that drive brands to use sponsorship within their marketing mix allocation?
Shift Brand Perception
Sponsorship can help shape brand attributes through the equity transferred from beloved properties (e.g., teams, leagues, athletes, events, performers). One brand may be looking to target a new audience and change perception with, say millennials. Another brand may use sponsorship to change perception from a mid-market brand to a premium brand. Another brand may be repositioning as tech forward and use sponsorship as a way to reinforce that attribute. Every brand has its own strengths and weaknesses, and sponsorship can help drive perception change, or even help sustain perception within the marketplace.
Defend against competition and develop an ownership position
Through the emotional connection derived from a sponsorship, brands have that ability to differentiate from their competition and lock up an audience or a territory. While advertising is non-exclusive, sponsorship (especially in mainstream product categories) is often granted exclusively to one brand. While it requires investment, locking out competitors can allow brands to continue to “own” a marketing space, while still receiving assets and delivering ROI.
Drive trial and consideration
Aligning with a sponsorship property can immediately help to build brand awareness for brands. While traditional media can also help support this, sponsorship provides both the content and the channels to help boost brand awareness. Recently international brands, such a Rakuten, have used sponsorship to quickly establish awareness and a brand identity within a new market.
Produce short-term sales and results
Depending on a product sales cycle, sponsorship can boost short-term sales results (and long-term of course). For CPG brands, on-pack intellectual property inclusion can help to immediately impact purchase decisions (think Olympic rings on packaging). At the same time, sponsorship can enable meaningful promotions in the marketplace through exclusive access and use of intellectual property. Through tickets, merchandise, players, coaches and more, companies can leverage their sponsorship rights to drive experiences that boost short term results.
Influence long-term sales
Sponsorship can facilitate long-term sales for consumer and business relationships. On the B2B front, sponsorship allows brands access and experiences that often are unavailable on the open market. Through use of hospitality assets (suites, front row tickets, etc.), behind-the-scenes access, or opportunities to connect with key decision makers, sponsorship can help drive long-term sales for many brands. At the same time, sponsorship has a long-term effect on consumer purchase decisions. While metrics differ from property to property, the equity derived from sponsoring a property leaves consumers more likely to purchase a brand’s products if they know that brand is a sponsor. For brands with longer sales cycles (televisions, automobile, etc.), sponsorship is a very important enabler in continuing to foster relationships with consumers and creating multiple touch points in the path to purchase.
Increase employee motivation (now and in the future)
Similar to B2B marketing discussed above, certain brands use sponsorship to boost morale and performance for employees. For some employees, there is a level of pride derived in knowing that their company is a sponsor of (or supports) a certain initiative. Sponsorship assets can be vital to creating employee incentive programs and general employee morale initiatives. In addition (especially in technical fields), companies use sponsorship to drive awareness with prospective employees. For instance, an engineering company may sponsor a college football team at a school where there is a strong engineering department in order to drive awareness and perception with their target audience of current engineering students. Overall, sponsorship can be used to increase employee motivation for current and future employees.
Storytelling and audience engagement
Sponsorship enables authentic storytelling. Through the ability to use intellectual property in advertising and across marketing channels, inherently sponsorship provides brands with the ability to tell more meaningful and authentic stories. And with sponsorship providing both the content and the channels to deploy content, sponsorship provides relevance in real-time and the ability to drive audience engagement. Through the power of sponsorship, brands have the ability to create fully integrated campaigns to impact a key audience, or to amplify a brand message and improve efficiency of advertising investments.