Why Successful Sponsorship Activation = Sustainable Partnerships

First up, what is a sponsorship activation?

The term is used a few different ways across industries, but keeping it simple; sponsorship activation is the switching on of the partnership agreement, to create value and impact from a sponsorship deal.

Big companies often have a dedicated person (or team of people) responsible for negotiating sponsorship proposals and planning the specifics around how and what the company will do to maximise the impact of their investment.

For brands like nike or adidas and big sporting organisations like the NRL, AFL, Cricket AU etc, this is pretty common practice.

In our experience, at grassroots level, it it’s not something many clubs have been executing well. Traditionally sponsorship has come from ‘the old boys’, family and friends associated with the club or the local pub/butcher.

Over the last few years, and in our COVID climate especially, these traditional lines of sponsorship have been drying up, leaving clubs searching for new sustainable partnerships.

In our new climate, this search has become increasingly difficult as local businesses can’t justify ‘donations’ anymore. Gone are the days of one way sponsorship. For the clubs with strong partnerships in the community and strong connections in the business network, finding new commercial partners is only half the problem; keeping them is equally as challenging.

Which is where activation comes in.


Failing to launch

If you don’t activate your sponsorship properly, several things can happen.

  1. Your commercial partner doesn’t see anything positive or tangible come from the deal so they don’t resign the following year.
  2. You might give your commercial partner inclusions they don’t want and waste an asset that could be incredibly valuable for someone else. For example, not everyone in the business to business community is big on Facebook or Instagram, so social media posts might not generate a stack of leads. On the flip side, someone with a local business who benefits from brand awareness and foot traffic may find enormous benefit from regular exposure on social media.
  3. You fail to understand what matters to your commercial partner and miss opportunities to create extra value for them from your network, on game days or at events.

Once you’ve done the hard work to build a relationship and attract a new commercial partner, activating your partnership successfully is key to creating a sustainable relationship that will continue year on year.


Asking the right questions

Whether in person, via zoom or discovery survey, here’s our starter list of questions for commercial partners to successfully activate a sponsorship:

  • What are your business goals for this year?
  • What are your objectives for this commercial partnership?
  • Imagine we’re a year from now and you’re looking back on this partnership, what would success look like, what outcome would you be thrilled with?
  • Are there any ‘must have’ inclusions or benefits you need for this to be successful?
  • If you’ve sponsored a team or club before, what have you liked and disliked about the experience?
  • What are your brand messages for your organisation that you’d like to build in with this partnership?
  • Who are you looking to connect with in the business community?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How important is social media to your business?
  • If you had to priorities two objectives, what would they be?
  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Brand Positioning
  3. Networking
  4. Building An Audience
  5. Relationship Building
  6. Community Engagement
  7. Qualified Leads; and/or
  8. Generating Sales

Once you’ve had a good discussion and figured out what matters most to your commercial partner, you can use the information to design an experience that they’ll love, tailored to their business needs.

Successful activation + positive experience = sustainable partnerships.


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