Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let's look at the numbers

The Volvo Ocean Race is a great place to dig into the numbers that show that sailing does, indeed, deliver for sponsors. It has a global reach that is incredibly unique in the sponsorship marketplace due to its 9 month duration and its physical touch points in most of the worlds major markets.

The preliminary numbers from the first half of the 2008-9 VOR are outstanding, both in their absolute size and also in their growth from the 2005-6 race.
  • In the first 5 months of the race, 2.41 million unique visitors visited, up 39% for the same period in 2005-6.
  • In the first 5 stopovers, the total number of spectators to pass through the turnstyles of the race village was 2,350,392. This is a 250% increase over the first 5 stopovers of the 2005-6 race
  • The pro-am race day in Alicante brought 68,400 people to the village, while the total stopover attendance was 937,000 people.
  • Cochin India, by comparison, brought in a total of 811,677 people with a peak day attendance of 107,289. Yup over one hundred thousand people in the race village on a single day. You'd have to see it to believe it....From being there I can assure you that it was absolutely amazing.
Unfortunately we don't have data from the individual teams that participated in 2008-9 quite yet. However, we will look at two examples from 2005-6 to set a base line; Ericsson and ABN Amro. Here are some very top line results their sponsorships in 2005-6;

Ericsson 2005-6:
  • Estimated their media value benefit at US$ 65 Million.
  • Put on 500 B2B focused events where they entertained 4,600 decision making customers at the Executive, VP, and Senior level.
  • Engaged employees through over 100 seminars and workshops focused around the race.
  • Estimate their total value of sponsorship at close to US$100 Million, which is a 450-500% ROI.
ABN Amro:
  • Estimated their media value benefit at US$ 77 Million.
  • Entertained 35,000 key customers and clients worldwide
  • Engaged employees and developed corporate pride as demonstrated by the 25 Million intranet hits that their employees generated on the team's website.
  • Measured their tangible total economic return on investment at 600%

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's time to sell the sponsorship

The key to a selling a sponsorship proposal is the in-depth focus on designing activation programs for the sponsor. Before going into talk to a sponsorship opportunity I research everything that there is to know about the company that I’m presenting to. I read every annual report, SEC filing, analyst call, and executive interview that I can get my hands on. I study the strategies of their competitors as well. If they are growing into a new market, then I design it into the activation. If they are having employee retention or recruiting problems then I design the solution into the activation. Launching a new product? Want to demonstrate a technology? Purchasing a company? Launching a philanthropy project? Need a voice for a PR campaign? Redefining their brand? Whatever and where-ever the company wants to go I build the platform to catalyze their core business goals and relate it all to the property attributes of the sailing team. The sailing project is not the focus of the presentation; it is, instead, the base that the entire business case is built upon. It is also critical to show the sponsor that their investment’s returns will be both measurable and also be independent of the sporting outcome of the races. Ericsson Racing's VOR 2005-6 project is the perfect example of a measurable activation strategy, that was wildly successful, even though the sailing team was, arguably, not.

Think that putting a pitch presentation together sounds like a lot of work? Well... it is. Mainly because every pitch must be fully customized for every audience. This is why properly managing the sales cycle can help this process. Leads are fairly easy to generate. We all know people that know people. And there are always cold calls that can fill the pipe line with leads. However, the key is to properly qualify each of our leads into realistic opportunities. Opportunities are the leads where the where the activation case is strong once vetted through the qualification process. It is in the preparation for the selling stage where the research and creative planning happens.

We have a big job ahead of us. It is critical that we make sure that the sailing fan base has an accessible and entertaining America’s Cup 34 and Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12 to enjoy. Hopefully we all can, collectively, light the imaginations of sponsors to join us as we transform the commercialized and entertainment side of our sport.

Again please leave your comments and questions for me to reply to. I've enjoyed reading and responding to all of the comments so far.... Also stand by for case studies in the next blog posts.

-Matt out
37 48.0N
122 26.6W