Understanding Awareness in Sponsorship Today

Awareness…it is something that advertising has lived off for centuries.

We use this metric to show our brands how many fans we’ve reached and hopefully influenced to make a purchase…and it does work.

But then we gained more tools in advertising. More ways to track direct sales and where they came from.

This came with digital ads. Brands can see every step, every action, where every sale came from.

This is great for brands. No more guessing, they can now efficiently spend their money.

But for us in sponsorship, where most of our assets are based on awareness, this is an issue with the shift.

This week on The Inches Podcast Rich and I dive into the topic of awareness and how you should think about using it as a tool in your packages for today’s sponsors.

You can listen to the full episode HERE… but as always I dive in below with some highlights.

First, awareness is not dead as a metric

I got some heat a few weeks back on an article about awareness. In the article, I wrote about an experience with a brand manager that compared in-stadium signage to a highway billboard ad and how they are more focused on digital outlets.

The article showed the shift in options for brands, where we couldn’t just rely on awareness any longer…we need both trackable stats and awareness.

Overall though, we do need those assets that get eyeballs. Signage does help our sponsors build a brand with our fans and sometimes that is a perfect fit with the sponsor’s marketing goals.

Just like anything in sponsorship, you need to understand what the goal of your sponsor is and tweak the package mix to reach that goal.

What is your sponsor looking for, awareness or action?

Rich has brought this up on the podcast many times…and it is a key point that needs to be brought up because it is so important to our success in the industry and as salespeople.

You need to understand clearly, and your sponsor needs to agree clearly, as to what success looks like from this partnership.

You need to understand their goals so you can reverse engineer on how you get there.

If success is “ I want to raise awareness in the market”, great. You can measure the success of the partnership by views and build a package toward that goal

However, if the real desired outcome is action, you need to change the offering up to focus less on the reach and more on the frequency or assets that will drive trackable action (purchases, visits, etc.).

With an action need by your sponsor, you need to build in assets that have the next layer beyond awareness to drive trackable action.

Low-cost, “impulse buy” product vs. High-investment product

Sometimes the amount of awareness needed in a package depends on the product you are promoting.

Rich brings up a great comparison in this episode of two products, beef jerky vs. mattresses.

Beef jerky is a low-cost, sort of impulse buy product. We need beef jerky when we are hungry.

Building a sponsorship package for beef jerky needs some awareness as you want to make sure your sponsor’s brand is the one they buy, but the turn-around to purchase is much more frequent.

The beef jerky company is most likely looking for a package more heavily on action assets with limited awareness. They have more “at-bats” and want to make sure that purchases are happening. The best way to do this is through a coupon giveaway or discount that is trackable.

Let’s shift to a product like a mattress. You maybe buy a mattress every 5–10 years. It is a much less frequently purchased product.

Relying only on coupons won’t work as a person will most likely not be in the market for that product.

Our goal with the mattress company should be priming our fans that our sponsor is the best company when they are in the market and ready to buy. Our coupon is the thing that gets them over the line.

As you can see, we need to understand our sponsor’s sales cycle and product to give them the best mix of action and awareness attributed to our packages.

Think of your packages like a slide rule

My dad always sees me doing calculations on my iPhone calculator and reminds me of his days when he had to do the math on a slide rule.

When I think of the mix of awareness & action, a slide rule jumps into my head.

Each client is different, as described above, and requires a different amount of beads on each side of the slide…action on the left…awareness on the right.

If you have 10 beads then you push them to each side based on the client. If a mattress company as described above then it would be 7 to awareness and 3 to action.

When building your packages you take the same approach on percentages. 70% of your package assets should be ones that have awareness aspects (signage, content, etc.), 30% action (digital assets, coupons, etc.).

The big shift, digital is awareness and sales into one

As we look at other ways our brands can spend their ad dollars we can’t discount the power of something like long-form video Facebook ads.

When customers watch the video they are getting their dose of awareness. They are being reached with the message.

TV ads and signs stop here. You get the message then they hope you make a purchase.

What Facebook ads have is they have a button on the ad you can click. This is the action part. They can track that the individual video led directly to a sale.

This is the advantage digital ads have over our assets. The trackability to sales.

I bring this up to enforce the idea that you can’t only live on awareness. You have to have assets that will be trackable & convert for the brand. If you don’t brands will simply pull their money and put it into digital ads.

At SQWAD we offer some of this through things like scoreboard trivia, mobile scratchers, and other mobile games during breaks in your games.

Having assets like this will help you compete when out talking with brands.

Overall, you need both awareness & action…but we don’t have enough action

From what I’ve seen in the industry there is a shortage of action assets, especially digital, for the demand asked by brands.

While awareness is still important…we need more action options to offer.

On the other side, you can’t live only on action.

How much really depends on your client and their product, sales cycle, and goals. But overall you need to have both aspects, awareness & action, in your packages to compete in today’s advertising world.

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