h) Sponsorship Do’s and Don’ts

Review the six Sponsorship do’s and don’ts for developing your sponsorship program.

Identifying Different Groups Within Your Audience

To ensure your sponsors’ messages reach your audience effectively it is important to consider the different groups within your audience.  Each group has the potential to create value differently for different sponsors.

The most obvious breakdown of groups within an audience is into age groups, potentially juniors, teenagers, adults and older members. Each of these groups are at different stages in their lives and therefore have different needs and create different value for a sponsor.

Another obvious breakdown is gender groups, Women and Men.  Men and Woman have very different needs and can be of value to different sponsors.

Another consideration is what town or suburb your club is in and what your community might need.  For example a growing suburb or well established community will need the services of different companies and potential sponsors.

When to advertise sponsors

The timing of advertising is also important for sponsors.  Some will be more suited to be promoted at the beginning of the season, such as dentists (who may do mouth guard fittings) or sports stores (who may sell the equipment members will be needing).  Other businesses may be more suited to advertising at the end of season, such as clothing retailers or hairdressers that may offer special deals to club members who will be preparing for end of season dinners or ‘best a fairest’ award nights.

Suitability of sponsors

It is inevitable when clubs start receiving money to promote businesses and their products that at some stage they will be faced with an ethical dilemma about the suitability of certain partnerships.

While it is illegal to accept advertising or sponsorship money to promote tobacco products, many other products are not so clear cut. How will your club respond if approached by an online gambling company, liquor company or fast food company to promote their products? While not illegal, there is significant evidence that the products of these types of companies have the potential to create real social issues.

Many factors will come into play when deciding whether to accept a sponsorship. The most important consideration for clubs is the values of the club and whether accepting a certain sponsorship is consistent with them. It is important to realise that in some cases the “end does not justify the means”. By this we mean that if accepting a sponsorship goes against the core values and beliefs of your club then your club should not proceed with the sponsorship regardless of the benefit the funds will create for your club.

Exclusive Sponsorships

Ethical sponsorship dilemmas can be created regardless of the sponsor type. Imagine your club is sponsored by one of the local real estate agents. What if your club is approached by another real estate agent in town?  What if they offer sponsorship at a level 4 or 5 times higher?  Do you accept the sponsorship of the rival real estate agent or do you have an obligation to only accept one sponsor from each business type?

These are decisions for your club to consider, but the easiest way to deal with them is through complete and honest disclosure as sponsors become partners of your club. You may decide that you will only have one of each business type as a sponsor at your club or alternatively you may decide that if a sponsor takes out a lower level sponsorship then this does not provide them with exclusive sponsorship for that business type. As the value of the sponsorship increases, you may decide that it is worthwhile giving exclusivity to the sponsor and committing to not accepting any other sponsorship’s from their local competitors.

One other point to remember when considering these very complex decisions is to make sure that you look ahead more than one year. Many clubs will make a decision based on what creates the best outcome for this year but often this is to the detriment of the club in the long term. Often clubs sacrifice long term partnerships for the enticement of quick cash. Don’t fall into this trap.

Supporting your sponsors

Clubs should put together a marketing strategy for their sponsors. This will not only maximise the value of the club to the potential sponsor but also demonstrates that it is important to the club that your sponsors benefit from their sponsorship with the club.

Your sponsorship marketing strategy would include:

• What is the message to be received by the members?  (And what is the call to action?  A call to action (CTA) is an instruction that is designed to promote an immediate response from the audience.  Examples include; “call now”, “enter now” or “click here”.)

• What and how will sponsor branding be displayed around the club?

• How often will the message will be communicated?

• Where and when will this message will be communicated?

• What information does the sponsor need to supply?

• Who will be responsible for activating the message and by when?

It’s a great idea for clubs to try work with sponsors to help educate them, where necessary, about how to best use their opportunity with your club’s audience. They may not realise that just having branding and logos visible is generally not enough to change the behaviour of your members.

At Sports Community We Work With the Rule of 5

We feel that real value begins to be created when you put the ‘call to action’ of your sponsor in front of the same person at least five times. This can be across different mediums and in different formats.


More about Attracting Sponsors:

a) What is sponsorship?
b) Why do clubs seek sponsors?
c) Understanding why businesses sponsor local clubs
d) How do we best approach sponsors?
e) How to value your club’s sponsorship packages and offers
f) How to create value from your club’s assets to attract and keep sponsors
g) How to prove your club’s value to sponsors
i) Engagement strategies that make your sponsors feel valued and ensure multi-year commitments
j) Creating the perfect sponsorship proposal