The first stage was a bit of a shock for most of us when games ended. It seemed like overnight we were game-less, plans in the trash, and now scrambling to still bring value to our partners.
Well, that shock is over. It’s time to get to work and build something for whatever comes on the other side of this.
Last week on The Inches Podcast Rich Franklin & I got really tactical on what your 90-day plan in sponsorship should look like for your team.
I especially appreciate this because for myself, and most people in sports, we haven’t been through a recession in our professional lives. This is all new to us. I’m happy I can lean on Rich for some insight.
You can listen to the whole episode HERE. But as always, see below for a quick overview.
The First 30 Days
Right now there are two items that will be most important, ensuring your partners are okay and ensuring you have the structure in your department so you can execute quickly.
Call your partners
Although you have been hit hard in sports…many of our partners are hanging on by a thread.
These are the partners that trusted your team to help them reach their marketing goals. Some new…some have been there for decades.
Well, their marketing goals have changed as fast as yours have as a team.
You need to call them all, make sure they are okay (or as okay as they can be), and see how you can help.
The ones who will be hit the hardest will be restaurants, live events, and gaming partners.
Other than this being the right thing to do, you can be one of the only stable links in their business chain right now. This will pay huge dividends in the relationship you’ve built with them.
One thing I’ve been seeing on LinkedIn right now by many teams has been showing which food partners are doing delivery and take out. This, I’m sure, came from calling the partner and seeing how they can help.
The first thing you need to do is call each partner, let them know you are at their disposal and offer to help in any way possible.
If you haven’t called ALL your partners. Stop reading this and do it now.
Structuring your department to move fast
In this time of uncertainty, it is as vital as ever for your sponsorship department to be aligned toward the goal of getting on the other side as unscathed as possible.
Set up daily calls, set up your own organizational 30, 60, and 90-day plans, and focus on the top 3 ways you can help your sponsors over that time.
If you set up this structure you can move fast, adjust, and really come out on top.
DO NOT SELL…at all now.
This is probably the worst time to sell. You can send out a plan for what their structure may look like to keep them on board…but do not try and sell any assets unless they are still coming to the table to chat.
Your job right now is to show empathy. Understand your partner’s business. Understand your point person’s role. Understand how this is affecting their business.
In the first 30 days, the above is more important toward revenue for your team than the sales you may be able to squeeze through right now in pitching.
Build digital assets, get creative to create avenues that were lost in sponsorship
This is a crucial part and I’m loving that many teams are starting now with creating digital content. I wrote about The Great Pivot that we will see in sports last week (click here to read) but I think this is the time when you start executing on new activations that will help your sponsors through this storm.
What are the ways you can engage fans on Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram as they miss sports, and how can you get your sponsors involved.
Day 31–60 should be executing on that. Finding a plan that will help them get through this AND building assets to do so is where you
Let me caveat this by saying you don’t have to wait 30 days to start this. If you have the assets ready and they are a fit…do it as fast as possible.
Again speed will win here. Don’t be sloppy but many partners are day to day on staying alive. If you can offer something that helps today…do it.
Overall, start building the assets that will last no matter how long this crisis lasts. The teams that can execute this will win now and later.
You are investing time in items that pay off in the short and long term. I really think we’ll look back at this and see it as a renaissance of digital assets in the sports world.
Again, Day 31–60 should be executing. Keeping in touch with our partners, adapting, and executing.
Understand the world has changed for your fans & sponsors
Rich points out here something that I think all of us need to really remember.
The sponsorship world we know today will not be the same on the other side.
It’s looking like we’ll be headed toward a pretty big recession, which means marketing dollars will be dried up, some of our partners may be put out of business, and some looking back out of all they committed to before the shutdown.
You can’t be the team that offers the same assets as it’s business as usual on the other side. You will need to get creative with the assets you offer, cut some packages down, and offer some price breaks when needed.
It will be vital that your team has a plan for the post-crisis economy. This plan will vary from partner to partner as some will be hit harder than others. But this is where the last 30 days should be focused on so you can hit the ground running when games hopefully come back.
The same assets & strategies won’t work as they did before.
Trackability will be more important than ever. More on why HERE.
The right message and game plan for a recession will be more important than ever. More on that HERE.
Fundamentally understanding that things will not be back to normal post-crisis may be the biggest superpower you will have in getting back out there and selling.
Don’t get caught off-guard when games start
Understand that games will start again…hopefully sooner than we think. We don’t want to get caught scrambling to bring value.
The first 30 days of the season will be the most vital. Sponsors will be looking at your assets and be thinking if they still believe they can move the needle for their goal.
Make sure you go through each of your sponsors, understand how they’ve been hit the hardest with the crisis, and create a solution to knock it out of the park for them in the first 30 days.
Overall, stay positive. We will all make it through this.
It’s looking rough out there right now. There is a ton of turbulence and unknown.
For me personally, I am thankful I have someone like Rich to chat with who has been through it all before. Understanding that if you do the right things you too will make it through this is vital right now.
It is even more important that we help our partners et through this as well.
Be well, be healthy, and I hope this plan helps you all thrive through this new time.