In the latest extracts from our exclusive serialisation of Jackie Fast’s best-selling book, the bible of the sponsorship game: Pinpoint: How Challenging The Norm Is The Only Route to Success In Selling Sponsorship, Jackie discusses how the industry has metamorphosed from one where big brands simply slapped their logos on every available space to one in which diversity, fragmentation, multichannel strategies and of course, online, rule the roost.
Jackie also suggests that when it comes to sponsorship, the devil is in the detail, and if you aren’t measuring results at a micro-level, you may as well not bother with sponsorship at all.
Copies of Jackie’s excellent and insightful book, a number 1 bestseller, are available from Amazon here.
HAVE A COKE AND A SMILE
The old rule of sponsorship is to slap a logo on something and get paid for it. Coca-Cola was famous for this. For decades, their logo has been ubiquitous, because they sponsored just about everything at one time or another.
The Coca-Cola sponsorship strategy in the 1980s was summed up with, “We like your shit, so please drink our shit.” People saw the Coke logo and associated it with fun and having a good time. Basic brand recall. For a long time, it worked.
Not anymore. Coke’s strategy has changed, because the world has changed. Slapping a Coke logo on everything no longer delivers meaningful ROI.
AUDIENCES ARE ACCESSIBLE EVERYWHERE
The proliferation of information platforms and publishers has further eroded the value of traditional logo-placement sponsorship deals. Years ago, the only way to reach sports fans was to sponsor sporting events, teams, or stadiums, or to advertise on sports broadcasts.
Placing a Budweiser beer logo on the scoreboard at a football game worked great. If brands wanted to reach women, they would advertise on TV shows and in magazines that were consumed by women. To reach teens and young people, you would go through schools or universities.
Now there are a myriad of media outlets, online influencers, and content creators, including bloggers, Instagrammers, Twitter trendsetters, niche websites, vloggers, YouTubers, Facebook Live stars, Pinterest mavens, Snapchatters, Twitch gamers, brand journalists, digital news outlets, thought leaders, and so on. There are content publishers and influencers for any and every interest. Where there used to be a few dozen magazines for mothers, now there are thousands of parenting blogs tailored to every demographic and interest within the parenting segment.
Football fans can now follow thousands of different content publishers, hundreds of which might be dedicated just to their favourite team, and dozens of which might be dedicated just to their favourite player. Brands no longer have to rely on putting their logo on a football stadium or ESPN to reach football fans. Audiences are accessible everywhere.
Influencers who have a specialty in one area can often cut across demographics. YouTube star PewDiePie built an audience of millions by playing video games. Gamers will spend hours watching PewDiePie’s content and engaging with him in multiple ways. If you want to reach teens and young adults, you no longer have to go through schools; you can reach them through PewDiePie. For a brand trying to reach teens, which do you think works better: paying to put their logo on milk cartons at the school cafeteria, or forming a partnership with PewDiePie to create original sponsored content that he will promote to his 53 million subscribers totalling 14 billion video views?
I recently spoke to the chairman of a global insurance and retail conglomerate. I told him what I do and asked how his current sponsorship programmes with a premier football club were going. I specifically asked how many new insurance policies they had sold from their involvement. He looked confused and asked, “What do you mean? That sponsorship gets our logo in front of seven million people.”
I asked him, “but do you know how much new business that has resulted in?” He had no idea, nor did he seem to think it mattered.
Imagine that; a major corporation spending tens of millions of pounds to place their logo on a football stadium without even the foggiest clue if they were getting any benefit from it.
Who cares if your logo is seen by millions of fans? So what? You have to measure what that exposure is getting you. If you haven’t converted any of those millions of fans into customers, it’s all a big waste of money.
Worse yet, if those seven million fans are already your customers and your sponsorship objective is to generate increased revenue from a different target market, you will utterly fail. I’m amazed that financially conservative business executives will try to save money and obsess over the bottom line in every other area of their business, but are profligate when spending money on sponsorship.
There are much better, more effective, and measurable ways to spend money on marketing and brand building.
For example, what would happen if a sponsor took the same amount of money they previously spent on putting their logo on the Liverpool Football Club and instead spent it on a savvy digital influencer campaign specifically designed to reach their precise target market and convert them into customers?
Not only would that digital campaign drive actual revenue, but it would also track customers and purchases through the sales funnel so the brand would know precisely what their ROI is on every dollar spent. Compare that to the vague and unquantifiable benefit of having football fans simply see a logo on a stadium.