„We are not renewing our sponsorship because it showed no impact“. You hear this sentence in many sponsorship discussions. And it’s true: many sponsorships have brought zero measurable results. Then the statement is clear: sponsorship doesn’t work. And that is also true: If sponsorships are planned and activated as amateurishly as is often the case in practice, sponsorships will never ‚work‘.
This lack of planning is often already visible before the sponsorship itself. At least 50% of all sponsors do not actively start the sponsorship venture, but only react to sponsorship requests from clubs, events or athletes. In fact, these sponsors only start dealing with the topic when the offer, ready to be signed, is on the table. However, this also means that the strategic planning phase, which is so important, falls completely under that table. This means that many sponsors decide to use sponsorship as a communication tool without having a solid basis. If one only acts reactively and signs (seemingly suitable) contracts at short notice, the same mistakes occur again and again:
Mistake no. 1: haphazard selection
Many sponsorships come about because they please the management. Whether it is the favourite club or an event in which the children are interested – the wallet is often quite loose. But hardly anyone dares to question the actual benefit of the commitment. In short: If sponsoring is primarily an executive playground, one should lower the expectations of a sponsorship to a minimum.
Mistake No. 2: unclear goals and lack of controlling
Does a sponsorship really need a goal? Yes of course – or would you spend privately without having a plan of what you will get in return? Of course not. If your sponsorship commitment is to „bring something“, then it must be clear before signing the contract what the exact framework conditions and objectives are to be. Without answering this strategic question, it is almost impossible to measure the success of the sponsorship later on. Now we have to bear in mind that more than ¼ of all sponsors in Germany do not bother to monitor their success. They are therefore completely in the dark as to whether their sponsoring activities have been successful or whether the budget made available for sponsoring has been used even remotely sensibly. As a result, the person responsible for sponsoring is often perceived as incompetent by the management and sponsoring commitments are cancelled. However, if the management itself has initiated the sponsorship, the criticism is less severe.
Mistake no. 3: Sponsorship is an isolated tool
Sponsors get involved in sport, sometimes with great commitment, but fail to marry their involvement with the overall corporate or product communication. Just like the motto: We invest six-figure sums in the shirt sponsorship of a third-division football team, but see no need to draw attention to it on other channels. FAIL. Sponsorship must always, and I mean always, be networked with other communication channels in order to have a real impact and to activate / accompany the sponsorship properly. Of course, this requires capable and committed marketing or sponsoring managers who not only implement sponsorships to the best of their knowledge and belief, but who also have the right specialist know-how. Entrusting the planning and implementation of a sponsorship to the employee who has been dealing with POS marketing up to now will simply not work in 90% of all cases.
Mistake No. 4: Maintaining the written form – please what?
Far too often, sponsor and sponsored party (probably out of sheer convenience) do without a clean set of contracts. This not only leads to the entire commitment retaining a non-binding character, but also to services not being properly tracked. In a professional sponsorship contract, both parties agree on what who has to provide and to what extent. Experience shows that without a contract, the sponsor and the sponsored party always let the implementation of the sponsorship slide and hardly use the potential of the commitment. Apart from the financial commitment – which is independent of the actual implementation. You believe that sponsorship contracts are the absolute standard ? Nice how naive you are. In professional sport this is true, but look at amateur or popular sport: there, clear contracts are as rare as ice hockey stadiums in North Africa.
Conclusion: with good planning, things run smoothly
But enough with the criticism of sponsors. Now imagine that not only sponsors, but also the sponsored parties act just as haphazardly and amateurishly. If you have ever talked to local sports clubs, then you know that they are not exactly the control centre of professionalism either, but are first and foremost happy to have a source of money. The transition between flat advertising commitments and real sponsoring becomes more than fluid relatively quickly. In short, my appeal to all sponsors and those who want to become sponsors: Think in detail about the WHY and HOW of a sponsorship commitment (even with external support) and then decide whether the sponsorship is right for you. This will reduce the likelihood of saying „we won’t extend our sponsorship because it didn’t bring us anything“ by a factor of 10.