Engagement is the Real Thing – Steven Falk

July 4, 2014

Sports sponsorship is no longer just about the number of fans a particular club or activity can lay claim to. It’s now about how many of those followers sponsors can actively engage with commercially.

It seems logical that sponsors should measure their sponsorship investment on the basis of the return they can generate from marketing their products and services to fans. But you’d be amazed at how many sponsors are seduced by inflated estimates of fan numbers bandied about by sports clubs keen to secure the highest possible financial investment.

There are instances where the number of followers claimed by football clubs in a single market exceeds the total population! This is not surprising where fan estimates are based on statistical sampling techniques designed with the objective of demonstrating how the club commissioning the survey is better supported than its competitors.

So how does a focus on fan engagement improve the return on investment to sponsors? Once you know who your fans are in terms of their basic contact details:-

–   you can communicate directly with them on a one-to-one basis

–   offers can be tailored to their particular demographics rather than as a generic offer

–   followers can interact with sponsors by responding to offers or providing feedback

–   clubs can develop contact strategies to improve customer profiles and data sets

To achieve this position, a sports organization actively seeking sponsorship must first establish a robust CRM process to collect, store, organize, manage and select their fan data at every single touch point. The CRM process is determined by how you intend to use your customer information and should not be confused with the IT system used to organize data. It’s surprising how many sports clubs invest in a CRM system before working out what they want it do. This can be an expensive mistake, like buying a sports car when you need a people carrier. Feels good for the moment, but totally impractical in the longterm.

Sports wishing to recruit and retain commercial sponsors must embrace the idea of fan engagement to maximize the value of their fan base. The alternative is a slow decline in sponsorship revenue until it disappears altogether.

Steven Falk is director of Star Sports Marketing a consultancy providing advice on sponsorship activation, CRM, brand and affinity marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @steven_falk

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