Sponsorship can’t only be “Awareness”​ advertising anymore…or we’ll lose.

I was reading about sponsorship (because well…I’m a bit obsessed with it if you couldn’t tell) and something slapped me in the face,

I know, I’ve said things slap me in the face in the past…unfortunately, it is happening a lot more often lately.

Here is a quick snippet below from an article written about a year ago about the ROI on sponsorship (Click HERE to read the full).

Only 19% of sponsorship professionals are confident that they can actually measure the business value return of the sponsorships they undertake…

Let’s put that into a bit of perspective…4 out of 5 of your clients can’t confidently report to their CEO the business return of sponsoring your team.

Something that some brands pay MILLIONS of dollars for…

This is a huge f*%king problem.

Imagine if you were only 19% confident that your car would start in the morning…would you keep making the payments?

If I was on the reverse of this and couldn’t tell you as a team how my ad product led to direct sales & results…you wouldn’t buy.

How then can we expect our brands to keep buying with a stat like that?

Awareness is a luxury of big budgets…and we should enjoy it while it lasts.

We simply cannot keep telling the “Awareness” story to our sponsors and expect to survive… we have to drive further down the funnel with our assets.

Awareness is a vanity stat.

Let me jump in here and state I am not saying it is worthless. Awareness does work in advertising. Of course it does, we’ve been doing it for decades.

It worked for decades for the same reason typewriters worked…because we had no better option.

Today though, brands can reach the same amount of awareness AND show ROI results through digital advertising…sometimes for 1/10th of the cost of our sponsorship assets.

And let me be clear here…ROI results are not “brand value”. I have no idea what the f*#$k that means.

ROI means you can track the journey from awareness to purchase with a direct history of how they got there.

There are some awareness campaigns that you absolutely can track…it is just really expensive and labor-intensive.

Digital advertising cut right through the noise and created an easy way to grab attention (awareness) while also sending directly a site to purchase.

This is where the problem lies. There is a better product out there than our awareness-only assets.

When the luxury dollars to spend on them go away…our awareness won’t fly any longer.

So why do brands still pay for awareness?

There are a few reasons here that I’ve noticed:

  1. They have an old-school mentality still on advertising.

Some brands just have an old-school mindset on advertising and still think awareness assets are valuable and return revenue. They don’t care about metrics other than how many people they reach.

2. They have a ton of money to spend.

Sometimes brands have such a big budget that they don’t need to see a return on your assets other than awareness. You are a drop in the bucket of their overall spend.

3. There is a sales guy/gal whose job it is to sell this stuff and they are good at it.

There are some really good sales guys and gals out there that can sell ice to a hockey team. Their job is to hit a sales quota. We are taught to prospect, qualify, and fight objections in sales to get them closed and revenue in. Sometimes we can convince a brand that awareness is enough and it will lead to sales without having to prove it.

You may be asking how I know this…well I was that guy.

I sold restaurant and hotel ads in print tourism publications.

Ya, that recommended restaurant in the travel guide in your hotel when you go on vacation…a restaurant paid for that.

When I did this I would segment my sales prospects based on #1 & #2 above.

Why? Because they were most likely to buy an asset (& keep buying) because either your boss believed in print based on it being the only option 5 years ago…or I knew you had a large budget that this would be a tiny drop and risk worth taking.

As soon as a company got a taste of the benefits of digital, no matter how good a sales guy I was, it was game over. The product and measurability beat me every time.

I say this because eventually (and pretty soon) MOST, but not all, brands will outright stop paying for awareness marketing tactics.

They will go 90% in on digital and with our current assets, we in sponsorship will lose.

We have to dive more into trackable assets. We have to change this.

In order to build that confidence up in the ROI of our sponsorship products, we MUST have trackability in our assets.

There is absolutely a place for awareness assets, but we can’t put a high price on them. They won’t buy it anymore.

Again, ONLY 19% of our customers have confidence in the measurable business return of our assets.

We can’t sustain that number.

We have to change our product and give our customers confidence that our platforms will help them move their business goals forward. We need to look at the assets that we offer and how we can make our prospects more confident.

What if you were the team that changed this and added assets you can track & measure.

I’m going to go extreme here. What if we overhauled our assets. Completely either dropped the price or even more extreme….over 2 years completely overhaul and get rid of any asset that doesn’t have a trackable or measurable aspect to it?

What if we made the change to be the team that brought assets that could go blow for blow with digital ads?

Although maybe not going to that extreme…if you are the first team to drive in on this…you will win.

At SQWAD, this is what we are starting. We provide digital assets that are trackable, measurable, and grabs attention in-stadium with platforms like our Scoreboard Trivia, Mobile Scratchers, & Live Poll.

We built these because when I sold sponsorship I could feel the frustration with justifying their spend without true trackable metrics other than “you reached xxxxx fans throughout the season”.

To be honest, I got tired of telling that awareness story. I knew we could do better with our offerings, assets, and stadium experience for the brands we sold to.

I also knew we couldn’t sustain at this rate and sell the assets we had with the rise of digital ads and the power they brought.

And we’re on the right track so far. These assets are going blow for blow with digital ads…and thus pulling in digital ad money for teams.

As I see this stat, I see the need for measurable sponsorship assets like this grow even more. Ones we can actually track to brand purchases…not just “brand value”.

When I see a stat like this, I think about the fact that this shift is coming faster than we might expect.

When I see a stat like this I see the massive misunderstanding of our customer’s needs and lack of products to help that we offer.

4 in 5 of our customers don’t have confidence in our product. It’s time to make a change.



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