How understanding Sponsorship Budget Buckets can help you close your deals.

Not all budgets for brands are “marketing” or “sponsorship”. There is some depth there.

Understanding the dynamics of a brand’s budget (and buckets) can help you close your deals and even open up more revenue for your team.

It’s something that Rich Franklin is really good at with the Portland Winterhawks and has allowed him to close some HUGE brands.

This week on The Inches Podcast, Rich dives into his tactics for finding and opening up new buckets for his sponsorship packages.

You can listen to the full episode HERE, but a quick review is below.

First, understand budgets have multiple buckets

As we mentioned there is more depth to a budget for sponsorship assets than just “sponsorship” or “marketing”. There are buckets of money you can activate if you understand the dynamic and tap into solving the need for that bucket.

Knowing this is the case makes your job easier when you go to sell.

Mainly because it does 2 big things:

  1. It puts context on the WHY for your package to your partner. You aren’t just selling a hospitality package, you’re opening up HR budget to sell the WHY of “Keeping your employees happy and connecting outside the office.”
  2. It tells your prospect you did your research and care about helping them as a company. This really helps you start the relationship.

Rich brings up a few big ones he’s had success with tapping, I dive in below for how you can tap them.

The HR Bucket

A big thing today is recruiting for hiring. Big companies understand that they need to attract talent and keep them happy to retain that talent.

HR departments are constantly looking for ways to do this that stand out and sports is an easy one for them to add.

Sports bring a great experience, a way to bond, and a way to tell the employee I care about your downtime to relax and appreciate your hard work.

This though usually is not money found in the “sponsorship” or “marketing” bucket. This is something that is new money you can activate that brings value.

Some examples include box tickets for new employees, entire departments,

Add in a stadium tour or meet & greet with the coach beforehand as well to maximize value.

Companies are looking for experiences like this to help bring their employees together and help new employees engage and interact with their new co-workers.

Other than the HR goals, how do we know if this is a big need for brands? Tickets & hospitality is the #3 most valued aspect of a sponsor’s package for brands.

How can you figure out if this is important to a potential prospect? Well, Rich has a few tactics to research:

  1. Look at their hiring or jobs page. If the company has a lot of job postings then they are hiring at a high rate. This might be a perfect time to approach the team
  2. Look at their LinkedIn page and see if they show the company going out to any happy hours or events. This means they have a budget for employee engagement and are spending.

Some of these items are great indicators that they are prospects to access that HR bucket.

The Charity Bucket

Charity work is also important to brands. Even though they do it to help their communities and give back…a decent amount of the WHY is to help build the companies brand.

With that second motivation to build the brand, they’ll be looking for ways to amplify the work they do in the community with the community…which a lot of times your sports crowd is that perfect audience.

By adding in ways to showcase a certain brand’s charitable work (scoreboard plays, showing that big check in between periods, etc.) you can open up some PR funds that would be spent in media, etc.

Even better if you can get them to sponsor a charitable item that you all put on as a team. They then have to do almost no work and can get brand recognition in the community.

The best way to research which brands see this as important is to check out their LinkedIn company feed and news tab on their website. If there is a big push toward charity work, it is important to build that brand in the community.

This is a great bucket that a lot of brands say yes to.

The Digital Bucket

Brands are reserving parts of their sponsorship and ad budgets exclusively for digital assets. Meaning you can’t even touch this money without a digital side of your packages.

We’ve seen as high as 50%for some brands.

In sponsorship, this means the bucket of money we can get from a sponsor with assets like in-stadium signage is shrinking every day. Pretty soon, no one will have enough in the “non-digital” bucket of money to afford them.

The teams that see this trend and adds digital assets will win by default because they can access the digital bucket when others can’t.

It’s as simple as understanding this bucket exists and taking advantage of it. Rich has done this tremendously well and even stolen some money in the ecosystem with these assets.

Of course, this is what we do at SQWAD, help with digital assets so you can go grab these dollars, and particularly with Rich at the Winterhawks…so we may be a little biased. But I believe this is the largest bucket opportunity you can go get easily right now.

And this is probably the fastest-growing bucket to access since digital advertising is hitting its stride for adoption.

(BTW, digital is the #2 most valued aspect of sponsorship packages by brands. Signage is #6….this is why we at SQWAD are really bullish on this bucket and your potential to WIN BIG by tapping it)

Finding the fit in these buckets

Fit, as we talk about a lot here, is really important for how you try and grab these buckets.

When looking at the HR bucket, make sure the package or experience makes sense for the company.

An example, if it is a bigger company onboarding a lot of new employees each year…a rink-side VIP all-inclusive package for each employee might be out of their range.

On the flip side, if it is a company hiring fewer people each year, then the above would make sense.

Figuring out the buckets for each sponsor

It takes a bit of time, but if you do the research on the company site and through press releases, as Rich mentioned, you can see where their focus is as a company for promotion.

This time spent though will pay dividends when you go into the pitch knowing that you have thoroughly done the research and created a package that is most likely different than the other options that haven’t done this research.

Even better, Facebook ads don’t do this research. This is the personalization that you can have to have an advantage over the different digital outlets.

Overall, take the time as you look at your prospects. It will make pitching them easier.



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