How to Deliver More Value to Sponsors

Discussion started by Sophie Morris , on Monday, 01 August 2016 16:40

How to add more value to sponsors


You will have the usual list of assets: branding, communications, tickets/hospitality, ambassadors and image rights etc. But what else can you offer to sponsors?


With the increased need for all companies to want to engage with their audiences more, sponsors need content to be able to do that. But not just any content, they want to offer their audiences exclusive and interesting content that they can’t get elsewhere.


You need a change in mindset. To find the extraordinary in the ordinary.


Review all the day-to-day activity that you undertake. Some tasks that seem very ordinary and mundane to you, might be incredibly interesting to fans. Even the process of preparing the stadium for game day, cutting the grass, setting out the shirts, tickets coming off the printing press, whatever it may be. Think about all these small things that can easily be filmed or photographed and used by yourselves through your own channels or given to sponsors.


You need to sit back, with a clear mind, and preferably with a fresh pair of eyes, to identify what could be useful as an asset. You need to know your fan base and understand what they want to see and then help your sponsors to deliver that.


The CRM or Customer Relationship Management System is key to sponsorship value. You need to know your fans well so that you can give your sponsors valuable information and access.


As we heard from the IEG sponsorship conference in Chicago in April, Chelsea football club spent £10m on a CRM system but signed two sponsors as a result. The CRM will become your most valuable sponsorship asset if it isn’t already.


You also need to be at the forefront of adopting new technology. Connected stadiums and reaching out to fans at the stadium and at home is very important. Using technology to improve the experience, through Virtual Reality and 360 views of the game, are all developments that create assets that sponsors will come to expect. More simple tools such as Vine, Periscope etc are becoming mainstream and therefore easier to embed in your fan engagement strategy.


An often overlooked asset is grassroots or community activity. This is seemingly a less desirable asset but actually, it gives sponsors direct access to their potential customers and fulfils social responsibility objectives. It can be the most commercially effective element of a sponsorship and so the sponsorship team needs to be involved in its delivery to ensure it holds value for sponsors and is, therefore, something they want to invest in.


England Rugby sponsors each own one of the RFU’s key deliverables which form the 7 key areas of development that the governing body provides to its member clubs, based around increasing capacity and building participation. So for example:


O2 owns the O2 Touch rugby programme, inspiring over 15,000 people to take up the non-contact form of the sport. This is a great way to introduce people to rugby and to keep players in the sport when they retire from the contact form. It appeals to a whole new audience, particularly younger people and particularly to females.


QBE own the QBE coaching club to increase the capacity of the coaches within the sport. They trained and supported 2015 new coaches to the game for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.


CBRE have the All – Schools project which will establish rugby in 750 non-playing state schools.


Now this is a fantastic marketing tool for CBRE, they have access to 750 schools, that’s a lot of children and a lot of parents. When those families decide to move house, CBRE has the opportunity to be at the forefront of their minds when they are making their purchase decisions, as a result of being part of their children’s lives by providing them with an opportunity, they wouldn’t otherwise have.


All three built something new to ensure that a long lasting difference is made to the game. Increasing capacity and building participation to develop the game, which benefits the sponsors in the short term from being involved in that, the direct access to people that they want to showcase their businesses to, but also the longer term in that they are improving the value of the sport that they are investing in and therefore increasing the return they will get too.


Along the above lines, you need to offer unique assets. For the Rugby World Cup different sponsors were given different assets – Land Rover and DHL had the trophy tour around the world and around the UK just before the tournament started, Heineken has the coin toss, Emirates airline has the flag bearers etc. The same can be applied to clubs, it could be:

  • Team announcements

  • Training sessions

  • Coin toss

  • Changing room interviews

  • Meetings

  • Personalised messages


This gives a sponsor a unique asset to them, which they can use to reward their current customers and attract new ones and can form the main content for their activation around your sponsorship.

Latest Discussion
Sophie Morris
Hi Joanne,

Thank you for joining in the discussion and sharing your experience.

Having a blank sheet to work from certainly frees you from any legacy obligations that other rights holders might have, but everyone really needs to constantly review what the market demands are and what they are able to offer to meet them.

If you look at some new sports, such as Formula E, they had a fantastic opportunity to be as innovative in sponsorship as their cars are, but they seemingly adopted a quite dated sponsorship strategy instead.

I like your point about the "rule book" as, of course, we shouldn't have a pre-determined rule book; it should be about delivering what the audience needs are and doing so in a way that meets your objectives and those of your sponsors.

The 'partnership' approach to sponsorship means building something together that goes beyond branding exposure and engagement, and will have an impact on Glasgow long after the event has finished.

I wish you the best of luck with it and will look forward to seeing what innovative sponsorship assets and activation comes out as a result.

Best regards,
296 days ago
Joanne Carlin
I found all views shared really interesting and topical – particularly comments around sponsors receiving unique assets and understanding your fans. Our commercial marketing partner is currently working to shape our sponsorship rights and opportunities and we're adopting a fresh approach to this. As the 2018 European Championships is an inaugural event without a pre-determined “rule book”, we have the ability to create a more flexible rights model that speaks to the brand directly and that will enhance the event.

We are in a unique position to shape who we engage with and how we engage and we believe we’ll have a wider fan base than each traditional single European Championships would normally have as we bring in the multi-sport element and overlying cultural programme. Glasgow as a city will also embrace the event which will bring another level of fan that aren't your typical sport enthusiast. However, this will mean we have to talk to a wider audience across multiple platforms and we’ll invite our sponsors to join in the conversation with us.
296 days ago
Fernando González Duncan
Couldn't agree more on such points you've clearly pointed out, specially on both the brand and property's ethos.

In my view, Reputational Risk Insurance is a "must".

296 days ago
Sophie Morris
Hi Fernando,

That's a good point. Of course, we'd recommend that both sides of the sponsor relationship only partner with brands that share the same values, and by having that 'partnership' approach, there is a stronger commitment to each other and therefore hopefully a greater responsibility to your own reputation and that of the other party.

However, negative situations will still arise and clauses should appear in every contract to protect both parties from that. Reputational Risk Insurance is also an option for those wanting further protection from any potential damage.

Sports properties have a responsibility to protect their brand's integrity not only for the sponsor but, as you say and to bring it back to the original topic, to also ensure the participation element of the sport is not damaged.

298 days ago
Fernando González Duncan
I could´t agree more with Sophie and Karen on such topics; however, in light of recent scandals
and widespread corruption and controversies surrounding sports nowadays, I do believe that
there has to be a basis or "filters" if you will of how to tread salty waters if they arise.

By this I mean in seeking the best legal advise in terms of including specific clauses when carving out
such contracts that could prevent any hardships if and a brand, property or ambassador causes an
unwanted situation; I do want to be very clear on this because, at the end of the day, do remember
that any controversy harms the Brand`s and Property`s value and, as such, can taint the public`s
perception of the latter.

Hoping all is well, may you ladies have a great day!

All the very best!

298 days ago
Sophie Morris
Hi Karen,

Thanks for reading this and sharing your comment.

I know StreetGames well. We did some work with them as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 Legacy. It's an excellent initiative.

Do you think the majority of brands buy into this or are more focused on receiving and activating their more commercially focused rights?

299 days ago
Karen Morris
I absolutely agree - carving out your own asset, programme and purpose around engagement with a property. I'm a fan of using the property to inspire people to get involved in a cause, using stars as ambassadors to change lives, get
Involved with communities, improve access and facilities for young people, give community groups, disadvantaged people chance to attend etc...

We work with StreetGames which has over 80 doorstep sports projects serving disadvantaged communities in the UK. Using the power of sport to improve lives is a key component I believe of a brands involvement in sport sponsorship.
299 days ago filesmonster