A company will only realise the full value of a sponsorship when it is used as a central platform around which consumer, trade, employee and media activities are built. Drawing attention to what a company is doing, or what its values are, can deliver a higher return than even the primary elements of a sponsorship. Therefore, knowing how to leverage sponsorship to generate returns beyond the main parameters of a partnership is very important. For example, Lloyds Banking Group, a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympic Games reported that among customers aware of its sponsorship, 30 percent were more likely to recommend the bank. But of those aware of the Local Heroes community program that Lloyds ran in conjunction with the Games, 50 percent were more likely to recommend.
For optimal returns, successful sponsors must strive for the following:
1. Earn recognition and gratitude from the audience for what you bring to the sponsorship, not just acknowledgement that you were there. Receiving recognition translates into gratitude, which leads to customer loyalty.
2. Prior to the launch, determine awareness levels, attitudes and image perceptions among your targets and set goals you expect the sponsorship to achieve. Carry out on-going review during the sponsorship by asking questions such as, “Are we on the right path? Are there any strong positive or negative indicators to adjust or change?”
3. Deliver your message when the audience is ready to hear it rather than interrupting. Don’t be afraid of giving up short-term exposure for more meaningful association.
4. Prioritise organic, relevant opportunities for telling your corporate or brand story over reaching huge numbers of people. Take advantage of non-traditional opportunities that target and engage smaller audiences.
5. Develop an integrated, portfolio-based approach to sponsorship. Rank and weight your objectives so that you can appropriately balance your portfolio. Each partnership does not need to achieve all of your brand objectives and reach all your targets, but together they should.