4 questions every marketing executive should ask before investing in a corporate sponsorship

You already know that a sponsorship can be a powerful marketing tool for your company.

It can educate people about your products and services, enhance your public image, grow customer loyalty, drive traffic to your business or website and increase your customer base. However, when done wrong, it can end up wasting a lot of time and money.

So how can you be sure this sponsorship proposal on your desk is the right opportunity for you?

Here are four questions every marketing executive should ask before investing in a corporate sponsorship:

1) “Will this sponsorship help us reach our target audience?”

There are many types of target audiences. These may include consumers (B2C), businesses (B2B), influencers, analysts, policy makers, investors, early adopters, media, referral partners, distributors, affiliates, current and future employees, vendors, the local community and much more.

Sponsorship crosses the borders between marketing, sales and public relations. Therefore, make sure you vet the opportunity through all these departments if possible.

Ask the sponsor seeker for demographic information about their audience and see how it lines up with your target markets. Then you’re ready for question two.

2) “What do we want from this sponsorship?”

The number one reason for sponsor dissatisfaction is not having a solid game plan going into the partnership.

Some executives will say they want “branding” or “to get their name out there.” But when they set these broad goals, they have no way of knowing if they are successful at the end of the sponsorship or if it was a good investment.

It is helpful to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T.E.R. for creating your objectives. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluated and Reviewed. Tie each objective to a specific audience you want to reach.

Share these goals with your sponsor liaison so they can help you achieve them. If they are a good partner, they will be more than happy to accommodate all reasonable requests because they want to keep you as a sponsor for the long term.

3) “How can we create meaningful engagement and value for our target audience?”

It is helpful to think of a sponsorship property as a form of advertising, like a TV spot or magazine print ad. You are purchasing the rights to use another organization’s media to promote your brand to their audience. Within that purchased space, the opportunity to engage your audience is yours to create - or to squander.

I have seen many companies invest in a sponsorship, full of potential, and then sit back and become “wallpaper” for the program.

I’ve also seen companies take the proactive route and treat the sponsorship as a full marketing campaign. They delivered useful and insightful content that engaged their audience in a meaningful dialogue, while displaying the company’s brilliance, capabilities and authority.

Of these two approaches above, which company do you think got more clients?

There are many creative ways to engage your audience and leave a lasting impact that converts to sales. However, you must pick the right tactic that works for you, your audience and the property. This is highly personalized work and cannot be summarized in an article, but it is some of the most valuable information I teach in my training programs.

Bottom line - Only invest in a sponsorship if you are willing to put in the additional resources (time, money and planning) into creating a marketing and engagement plan. Otherwise, it is not worth the investment.

4) “How will we measure our return on investment?”

Some companies do not measure their return on investment because they don’t know how to go about it.

Yet, without knowing how your sponsorship has performed, you can’t improve upon your marketing program and keep your company relevant to the marketplace.

The best way to determine your return on your sponsorship investment is to decide what metrics you will use before the program begins. Do not wait until after it ends.

The first and easiest thing to measure is leads. Take all the qualified leads you gain from the sponsorship, including business cards and the attendance sheet, and enter them into your lead nurturing system. This ensures that the connections you made during the sponsorship are not lost in the void forever, but receive a sequence of educational content for several months or years until they are ready to make a purchase decision.