I recently spent a few minutes exploring the web sites of Adelaide’s sporting teams that compete on a national stage. It seems it’s only the netballers that are free to express their individuality through their web sites as footy, soccer, basketball and 20/20 cricket work within templates.

There’s a lot of stuff to read but its clear why Facebook, youtube and Instagram have become the go-to platforms for fans. Anyway, I took a stroll through the Corporate sections of the footy sites and was blown away by the number of brands that associate with the Crows and the Power.

At the top of the sponsor tree, as you’d expect, there are a number of well known national brands funnelling down to local businesses. At Power there are 2 Joint Major Partners followed by 9 Premier Partners, 14 Principal Partners and 11 Key Partners. At the Crows there’s 1 Major Partner, 2 Platinum Partners, 8 Premier Partners, 6 Key Corporate Partners and 24 Corporate Partners. Then there’s all the team sponsors, players partners and corporate hospitality rights holders. Wow! You have to respect the sponsorship and partner marketing teams!

Still, it got me wondering how many of those partners have a sponsorship and activation strategy and budget?

In our experience the decision to sponsor is taken strategically, tactically or dunno-ically.

Strategic sponsorship assists the achievement of long term business goals. The best sponsor – in for the long haul, interested in building relationships, measuring ROI and understands the relationship should be mutually beneficial. Will be running a leveraging campaign and will have budgeted accordingly. May be a fan but this won’t get in the way of the big picture.

Tactical sponsorships feed a short term brand objective. The sponsor’s probably not looking more than a year ahead and therefore will not be interested in building relationships. Will measure ROI but already knows that the property can deliver. Calculating; so will know whether an activation campaign will help those short term goals

Dunno sponsors want to be associated with the property but may not be sure how the rights, and their exploitation, can leverage business goals and will rely on the property’s sponsorship team to provide ideas. Likely to be a fan and wants to build relationships.

When it comes to sport the heart often comes before the head. And why not if you can afford it! But we’d recommend a six step process.

Strategy and Planning

Does your current marketing plan work or does it need reworking? If so, how will a sponsorship help achieve your objectives? And should you be looking at an individual, an event, a product or even a cause?

Property Review

What’s out there that fits your brand’s values and talks to your target market? Will you be able to work with the rights holder to develop a benefit package without fluff and wastage and how much are you going to have to spend to activate your sponsorship.

Project Plan

The project plan solidifies your marketing strategy and how you will use the sponsorship to achieve this. It will include your asset management plan and your activation plan and include a budget (with a contingency line.) Oh. And how you intend to measure the effectiveness of the investment.

Acquisition

You can buy what’s on the table or you can negotiate. You may look for discount or more value. Are you clear on the rights and obligations of each party? Will a long term investment be cheaper and what are the payment terms? Is there a get out clause? Is it worth considering first matching rights? Will you get a lawyer involved?

Asset and Activation Management

Once you’ve bought it you have to manage it. The property owners will only manage aspects of your rights so who’s looking after the rest of it.

Review and Measurement

Is your sponsorship working and do you have to make any changes to make it work better or move in time with the sponsored property?