Sponsorship 360: adaptation to a constantly changing world

February 10, 2017

Sponsorship 360: adaptation to a constantly changing world - Johan Cruyff Institute

The internet of things and new technologies offer sponsorship professionals new platforms to exploit their investment, increase brand presence and connect with a target audience in search of new experiences

Being a sponsor of a sporting event, a club, a team or an athlete is not limited to showing the brand logo or agreeing on advertising rights to exploit their image. Spectators are so demanding, and the resources they have at their disposal are so numerous, that the actions carried out by the brand for the benefit of that public and the interaction that it obtains with it will be, to a large extent, what will give that sponsorship agreement visibility.

The internet of things and new technologies offer marketing professionals multiple ways of interacting with customers, but the advances are so constant and short-lived that what was innovative and ingenious yesterday is obsolete today. One just has to climb fearlessly into the time machine, participate in this continuous spiral of change, and move forward without getting dizzy.

In this interview, Richard Denton, professor at the Johan Cruyff Institute and sport marketing consultant with more than 20 years of experience, analyzes the transformation of the sponsorship sector and how its professionals must adapt to keep abreast of the new tendencies. Welcome to sponsorship 360.

What skills do sponsorship professionals need to develop today?

Sponsorship marketers need a balance between the strategic and operational skill sets of the business. Understanding the marketing strategy a sport organisation, team or sponsor and how this can be translated into an effective sponsorship plan to achieve specific goals or objectives. This requires market insights, selecting and negotiating the best package of rights, developing authentic and relevant activations and operational excellence to deliver customer satisfaction.

In your point of view, what should a good sponsorship plan include and what would be some good examples?

Best practice comes from a clear vision and a consistent way of working that embraces the brand values. The goal is to create activities for fans or customers that increase their enjoyment and experience at a sports event or viewing on TV or a device. Heineken and the UEFA Champions League is a good example with a clear vision how football viewers can enrich their social experience with friends in partnership with Heineken.

Sponsorship 360: adaptation to a constantly changing world - Johan Cruyff Institute

What are the new challenges faced by sponsorship experts?

Clearly the Internet of Things and digital applications have changed the way we interact with each other and things we enjoy such as playing and watching sport. This creates an environment where brands can have a dialogue with fans and consumers 24/7. Sponsorships provide a platform that can facilitate this exchange, which is an opportunity to build relationships, promote products or drive sales. The challenge is to manage this process and deliver a consistent message and experience that meets the needs of the customers in a continuously evolving market in terms of technology, devices, networks, apps etc. As a consequence of these developments, sponsors have to give away some of the control they used to have over their brands to allow fans and partners to create content and experiences. Fans have high expectations of sponsors to gain their trust and ultimately their loyalty which means brands need to think carefully about how they want to interact and build relationships.

Sponsorship 360: adaptation to a constantly changing world - Johan Cruyff Institute

What knowledge do you need to deal with all these changes?

In one or two areas a new skill set might be required, for example, to specialise in digital marketing or social media. But, the principles of marketing, strategy or event management still apply but these need to be adapted for a new era of sponsorship. In the past TV was the biggest generator of brand exposure and this is for many still the primary reason to sponsor a major sports event. Now, there are other channels and platforms that can increase brand awareness amongst a specific audience or market that could be achieved with a different balance in the media mix. Previously match day revenues were a significant portion of the income for a football club, alongside broadcast. Today, e-commerce platforms allow fans to buy merchandise, tickets and fan experiences anywhere in the world. Again, the goal is to generate brand loyalty and customer satisfaction through these new platforms without diluting or damaging the brand in the process.

Why do experts need a 360 vision on sponsorship nowadays?

Because all elements of the sponsorship mix influence the success or outcome of the sponsorship. It helps to be aware of all different areas even if you operate in one or two areas.

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Sponsorship 360 for a Changing World

At the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam we have developed an original, pragmatic and ‘Cruyffian‘ learning experience, designed for evolving sponsorship professionals.

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