Foundation for successful sponsorship – Sonja Kreye

June 13, 2011

There is no mistaking that the sponsorship sector and more specifically sports sponsorship have become more professional since the advent of the communications discipline in the 1970s. The increasing improvement in quality is reflected in the more comprehensive assessment of feedback. For successful sponsorship, simple media feedback analysis (measuring how many contacts were made via the media) is now insufficient. Individual approaches are demanded by sponsors and supplied by rights holders through respective media analysis institutes. Below an overview of the historical development, current trends, sponsors’ targets and how motorsport sponsorship differs from football sponsorship.

In practice, the rating of sponsorship measures is often restricted to the acquisition of media coverage. One assumes that it is sufficient if the target group notices the sponsor as such. The reality is, however, by far more complex: Sponsors pursue various objectives like, for example, image transfer from the sponsored to the sponsor, the development of a positive reputation or the emotional value of a brand. These targets must be considered in the rating, meaning the comparison of plus and minus, for and against.

According to Marcel Cordes, Director of SPORT+MARKT, the classical targets for the majority of sponsors are to increase brand awareness and image development, as well as the creation of an emotional communicative platform for sport involvement: »Of an equally high priority for many companies is customer contact via hospitality measures, employee motivation and especially sales aligned business models.« Ulrich Lacher, Managing Director of IFM International Sportanalysen GmbH adds: »For the large consumer brands, sponsorship plays a major role in improving image, increasing brand awareness and charging the brand with emotion. However, sponsorship is also an accepted form of communication, because it is not immediately recognisable as advertising.«

To be able to evaluate the individual objectives of sponsors just as individually, the trend in market and media analysis moves »to comprehensive research and consultancy services from a single source« continues Marcel Cordes. »Sponsors know what they want. Accordingly, strategy development and rating are more refined and precisely aligned. There is hardly any run-of-the-mill analysis anymore. The same can be said for the organiser and rights-holder: They know how to present their partners and sponsors with viable and transparent offers where the partnerships added value is clearly visible to them.«

Ulrich Lacher views neuromarketing supported research as an absolute trend. For this subject field IFM Sports employed, in 2010, the expert Oliver Frenzel who switched from the Nymphenburg-Gruppe to the IFM Gruppe to systematically develop this business area. »It simply isn’t enough anymore to show consumers a logo. With our neuromarketing approach we help our customers to better understand how sponsorship affects image and purchasing behaviour. With knowledge from neurosciences we are capable of advising our customers in such a way that they can deploy their sponsorship budgets more effectively, minimise waste coverage and thus organise their sponsorship more effectively as a whole.«

The target of neuromarketing is to attain, on the basis of neuroscientific findings, a comprehensive understanding of the emotional and cognitive processes in the human brain in order to make reliable conclusions about the secret desires, needs and motives of people and to make valid forecasts about the future purchasing and decision-making behaviour of consumers. The findings of neuromarketing are of significant importance for sponsorship, since sponsored events live from emotions. Sponsorship messages can thus only first release their full effect if they address the emotional personality traits of their recipients.

SPORT+MARKT has also adopted neural research and already carried out several studies with the Hamburg based institute »implicit diagnostics and solutions« specialised in implicit research. Another important development in sponsorship research is eye tracking, which measures exactly which elements of a sports broadcast within the test subject’s field of vision arouse attention and how long the retention period is on such an element. SPORT+MARKT supplies its customers in this way today with valuable findings to help with the correct choice and design of advertising material. It goes without saying that an increasing amount of social media activities analysis is in trend. According to the latest survey results released by the international institute »Sports Marketing Surveys«, an IFM Gruppe subsidiary, 73 % of the marketing managers participating in the survey are of the opinion that social media activities must be an integral component of every sponsoring concept.

Ulrich Lacher explains: »In view of the measurement of social media activities a great deal of insecurity still dominates the market. However, there are already models today that measure the effect of these activities. These models are of course just as unique as every other market and media analysis as well. It always depends on which targets a sponsor pursues. Again here the trend is away from standardised products and turns to specially developed evaluation models, particularly in the qualitative field.« While the IFM Gruppe confronts these trends with the IFM Sponsoring Scorecard, an analysis tool, which like a balanced scorecard, reconciles the targets and data considered important by the sponsor, SPORT+MARKT relies on a comprehensive pool of worldwide basic data as well as the world’s largest database covering the subjects of sport, sponsoring brands and events. »Thanks to our continuous basic research of more than 25 years our planning and strategies are based on long-standing and international benchmarks.«

Motorsport plays a special role in the sponsorship market from the view of media analysis experts. »Apart from a few exceptions like DTM or NASCAR national motorsport sponsorship achieves hardly any significant media presence,« says Ulrich Lacher. »In reality the national series’ live from the national and regional fan base and the activation potential or specific B2B opportunities. On the other hand the international ones have enormous media potential.«

For Marcel Cordes of SPORT+MARKT the differences are primarily in the events themselves: »Activation on location is even more important for sponsors involved in motorsport than in football. The target groups are complementary in many areas, even though motorsport is predominantly more masculine, younger and has more purchasing power. Also team sponsorship in motorsport is only to a limited extent comparable with club sponsorship in football. As a rule motorsport teams do not have the independent identity of a football club because the racing series stands to the fore.« The race weekend itself is an important component of the sponsorship involvement for Ulrich Lacher of the IFM Gruppe: »A motorsport weekend differs greatly from a football match day or tournament. Spectators are tied for longer periods of time. There is much more of significance going on in the background, which is reflected in the coverage. There are considerably more background reports and features in the focus of the media. There are, however, disadvantages: Football is the safe option for many sponsors as the pressure of justification is less.«

From market experiences and media analysis institutes every participant in the motorsport market can draw corresponding conclusions. As in general in the sponsorship industry, it is also particularly important in motorsport sponsorship to supply partners and sponsors precise data confirming the sense of an involvement. At the acquisition stage every potential sponsor requires information about how large the target group or fan base is and by which demographic properties the fan base is distinguished. The media penetration is of course also important even if this is, as explained above, not the only crucial point for the success or failure of a sponsorship commitment. If a sponsor is gained it is recommended that an inventory is made to start the partnership in order to be able to identify afterwards the results of the sponsorship tailored to the individual goals. Valid here: individuality trumps. Since every sponsor follows different targets individual analysis methods must also be applied.

For the successful acquisition of sponsors and also the optimum and mutually satisfying development of partnerships the correct data are therefore important prerequisites. It is not only the sponsor that wins through optimization possibilities but also the rights holder learns where there are initiatives for improvement.

Sonja Kreye, Sponsorship and PR Consultant, Sonja Kreye Consultancy

Sonja Kreye is a Sponsorship and PR Consultant and is working with customers that include tolimit Sport & Marketing, Publicis Kommunikationsagentur, and Joest Racing Team. She is consulting her customers with regards to sponsorship concepts, sponsorship development and activation as well as with regards to public relations and communications. In her career, Sonja consulted and managed sponsorship concepts for brands such as DHL, Krombacher, Veltins, Sigma, Procter & Gamble and many more. Prior to her current role, Sonja was Business Relations Manager at Porsche and furthermore consulted Formula One race tracks such as Hockenheim, Shanghai and Magny Cours. She is furthermore an editor to various German motor sport and motor sport business magazines.

Sonja holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Media & Marketing from Steinbeis University Berlin, School of Management & Innovation

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