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Getting the Most from Your Sponsorship

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Sponsorship at its best is an immersive experience, engaging customers and fans on many different levels to improve the awareness, understanding, propensity and loyalty towards a brand.  If a sponsorship is activated with genuine fan insights, full commitment from the brand and with the support of the rights holder then the results can be incredibly impactful, writes Daragh Persse.

Measurement of sponsorship has never been more effective than it is now.  We have the tools and data in place to ensure we can accurately demonstrate the impact of any sponsorship against a brand’s objectives.  Whilst there is no single magic bullet for sponsorship evaluation, a balanced approach will produce actionable insights for future partnership negotiations and improved activation.

SPi (Sponsorship Performance and Impact) is The Brand Fans proprietary evaluation model which has effectively assessed hundreds of sponsorship proposals, partnerships and campaigns.  With a focus on impact, values and actions, SPi looks forward to arm the brand or rights holder with the tools to deliver a world class sponsorship platform for the brand.

How far can sponsorship influence company performance? In many cases SPi is capable of effectively identifying the incremental financial impact of a sponsorship property for the brand’s bottom line.  But what about the ability of sponsorship to directly influence a customer’s decision to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tool that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.  The rationale for this focus on NPS is that at a customer’s satisfaction and loyalty correlate to sales and if a customer is willing to take the time to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague then this strongly correlates to their satisfaction and subsequent loyalty.

NPS has allowed the busy board room to focus on one measure of customer satisfaction and brand success.  Whilst NPS has a strong customer product and service focus, measuring the sponsorship impact on NPS provides an insight into the power of engaging through this discipline.  That’s because NPS gives us a baseline metric to gauge at a glance whether people are feeling better or worse about the brand over time having been exposed to or engaged with the brand through sponsorship (along with the core product and or service).

NPS helps us identify the people who at least claim they will champion the brand.  Whilst this recommendation used to be 2 or 3 friends, social media opens-up a potential ‘influence radius’ of hundreds, if not thousands.  Therefore, sponsorship activation and the measurement of its impact on NPS has a vital role to play especially with the importance of word of mouth as one of the most effective forms of marketing.

In quarter one 2017, The Brand Fans in partnership with Amarach Research undertook the most comprehensive study of NPS and sponsorship across multiple categories in Ireland.  The purpose was to determine the incremental impact on NPS among those customers who were in favour of a brand’s sponsorship.  The results are very compelling and point to the direct and sizeable impact sponsorship can have on a fans decision to recommend a brand.

On average and across all categories, customers who favoured the brand’s sponsorship showed a massive 13-point swing versus the average NPS score for that brand.  All categories and brands showed consistently strong scores with insurance being the highest performing category with an average 16-point swing.  Telco had the lowest swing but still moved almost 12-points against the average for that category.

Venue sponsorships are in high demand in the market and they had the highest results of all sponsorship types with an average swing of 20 points.  Rugby continues to grow in popularity and performed as the strongest sport for NPS during the busy rugby season.

One of the most interesting results from the Amárach survey findings is that sponsorship has the potential to improve the NPS scores for those customer groups who are notoriously difficult to impress in terms of customer experience, namely men in general and young men in particular.

Sponsorship should always be considered as a potential platform for a brand rather than a tactical activation channel and these results demonstrate why.  In sponsorship, we are engaging customers through their passion points.  With that comes a responsibility to deliver insightful and engaging campaigns that add value to the fans experience.  Done correctly and sponsorship has the proven ability to impact business and brand performance, creating real value and influencing a customer’s decision to recommend that brand to a friend.  Measured over time, NPS has the ability to add to a balanced view of sponsorship performance and impact.

Daragh Persse is managing director of The Brand Fans, a leading sponsorship and cause marketing company that specialises in delivering  sponsorship strategies, evaluations, negotiations and activation.

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ May 2017)© to order back issues please call 016611660