Fresh ideas, new technologies: how to renew outdated sponsorship models?

Associations, leagues and clubs must work year-round in their digital channels to provide sustainable and balanced support to sponsors, members and themselves.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s definitely not to put everything on one card. These days, it’s not just a proverb, but solid advice. Many companies that have made their revenues dependent on specific sporting events (often held once) panicked when the authorities decided that such events would take place behind closed doors. Even those who have switched to virtual or hybrid events have faced many challenges.

With almost everything in the world back to normal and events taking place on-site, forward-thinking organizations are diversifying their revenue mix and engagement channels through (always available and independent of the world situation) digital strategies. Thanks to such an integrated approach, you go beyond the boundaries of a single event or sponsoring a single sports team, and establish closer relationships with sponsored entities and B2B marketers.

“I’ve seen a lot of cases where you throw a big event and then when things don’t work out, you tell sponsors, ‘See you next year,'” says Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing Inc. who has over 20 years of experience in marketing, business development and sales. “You create this whole dynamic, bringing people together and making them wait eleven and a half months for the next opportunity,” he continued. “Consider what you can do to keep the event going while you wait for the next one – all the contacts and channels you create to engage people are, after all, an opportunity for both sides: the club and the sponsor. “

A modern take on traditional sponsorship.

Running a business in an increasingly digital world enables industry leaders to innovate for the benefit of sponsors. With the right technology, entities can deliver fresh ideas for improving visibility and building relationships with audiences beyond events, while offering on-demand engagement, real-time data analytics, and fully branded program options.

Instead of limiting your partners to booths at events, it’s better to give them a chance to appear on your website or social media. And you can always give them the opportunity to share their knowledge by organizing webinars and trainings that shed light on their solutions at the same time.

Whether via email, sponsored content or other channels, sponsors offer ongoing opportunities to promote fan engagement, improve dialogue and build leadership. In this way, market leaders are changing the concept of sponsorship: from a simple source of income to a successful, symbiotic relationship that extends the benefits of all parties. “I’ve been told that consumer choices are based on emotion and B2B decisions are based on logic,” Heinz said. “If that were true, sponsors would have a much easier job – they would just need an ROI calculator. But emotions and relationships always come into play as well. “

Create legitimate and permanent value

Heinz said the associations are in an enviable position as they have won the trust and attention of their members in the past. “Associations have worked hard to build their target groups – it’s a long-term investment,” he said. “Therefore, if you look at the guides available on many B2B marketing groups, professional associations are always at the center of these programs. “

As trustworthy centers of knowledge, associations and clubs must put their reputation above all else – this principle applies to all channels of interaction, whether personal, digital or hybrid. The question is, how do you keep maintaining and capturing the fans’ attention? “You have to be careful not to put your income and sales in front of the public because you can lose credibility for your project. “

Good news? Sponsored content allows associations and clubs to present a variety of ideas and perspectives. In addition to the relevant products and services, each sponsor should be seen as a source of specialized industry information.

“Some of the top content – best practice guides, blog posts, videos – come from vendors who know that if they are trendsetters in their field, they can attract attention, gain trust and really become a recognized supplier if interested ready to buy,” said Heinz.

To this end, associations have the ability to advise sponsors on how to maximize their chances of exposure throughout the year through persuasive content that won’t sound like an attempt to sell their services.

“Associations can do the math and say, “When we calculated the ROI for the full year from multi-channel programs with our sponsors, we found that those who focused the least on the sales message sold the most because they were constantly paying attention to their potential customers” – Heinz said. This will improve the ROI of your sponsors while increasing the member experience.

If you lose the audience’s attention, it’s really hard to get it back.

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