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


Anonymous said...

I'm a sailor.

I'm also a marketer.

Please stop thinking that we need sponsors to keep sailing alive.

The best time in a boat is when I don't feel that I, as a competitor, have to satisfy a sponsor.

Anonymous said...

My premise is not to keep 'sailing alive'. Sailing is funded by people's disposable income on a sport that they have a passion for.

I'm talking about 2 events, The Volvo Ocean Race and the Americas Cup, and how to make them great entertainment events though commercialization. Otherwise they become private events and thus there isn't a need to make them accessible to all of the people that have a passion for the sport.

David Fuller said...

The two races are different.

The America's Cup may take a while before the sponsors return, but that's okay - it's never relied on sponsorship and it has always been a private event.

The Volvo Ocean Race that is beholdant to corporate masters, both at an event level and a team level. Here, the choice of ports will be critical to marketing departments. Despite the saturated coverage in all manner of media, the real activation will happen during the stopovers. The choice of these ports will determine if there is a fit between a sponsor and the markets they are promoting to.

Here, the nationalities of the team are also important as it will also determine which sponsors will get behind the project.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the articles! Question: How do you measure results from VOR or AC sponsorship? Is it quantitative?

Benjamin Jarashow said...

David, is it your belief that the AC CAN never be commercialized? My understanding is that the attempt to do this was in fact among the intentions of Ernesto Bertarelli after winning the event last time......

Are the requisite campaign expenditures simply to great for a sponsor to afford, creating too low an ROI?

David Fuller said...

I believe that the AC can be commericalised and AC32 showed that it can be done very well.

These are quantitative results based on third party metrics that look at media value, economic impact on the local region, merchandising and other measurable outcomes.

My point is that sponsors are looking for longevity, which is why the Volvo Ocean Race have announced their race program into the future for several editions to calm sponsors nerves about getting returns in the long term.

Traditionally, the America's Cup has been funded by rich individuals - think of Ted Turner, Alan Bond and more recently Ellison, Bertarelli and Sir Keith Mills.

The Cup can be commercialised, but like many sports, including soccer, rich owners will always skew the market.