What EVOLVE means in today’s sponsorship industry

I have such a blast rocking with Rich Franklin of the Portland Winterhawks each week on The Inches Podcast.

His knowledge and experience have been invaluable to me in the industry and we started this podcast so I could help share both of our prospectives with people in the industry.

This week was a great culmination of our talks. A word kept popping up in our discussions on the podcast.

Evolve.

Our industry is massively changing…and we aren’t the only industry. The internet has been eating the world for a very long time. No industry is safe.

History has told us that those that evolve win…and usually massively. Toys R’ Us, Hotels, Blockbuster are just a few examples of this in recent history when you don’t evolve.

What’s interesting is we in sponsorship are pretty slow to evolve this.

Of the $16Bn spent in sports sponsorship in the U.S. only 9% of that value came from digital initiatives.

Meanwhile in the rest of advertising digital has surpassed T.V. advertising. Our brands want digital engagement & assets from us. Think about the opportunity here to grow

This week on The Inches Podcast Rich and I dive into the word evolve in this industry with a case study to help.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always below are a few key points from the episode.

Evolve…what does that mean?

When we look at the word evolve in our industry we need to understand the meaning.

Evolve is not stop immediately the old. It is not immediately to adopt the new.

Evolve is a transition. It is respecting the old…seeing the new coming. It is seeing where the puck is going by understanding the path it took to get there.

In sponsorship evolving is a process, not a destination.

As with anything in nature, evolve too slow and you die out. Evolve too quickly and you might jump into something too unstable for survival.

Digital is here. Digital connection is what brands & fans want. The phone is where attention is.

As we think about evolving in sponsorship it is key to understand that is, in fact, an evolution to a forever moving destination.

We in sponsorship should fall in love with the process of always evolving in this industry.

A case study of evolution to survive

When we look at evolution many times it comes from survival. The need to evolve our value to partners is constant.

Rich brings up a great case study in the radio business with a sports AM station.

Listen to the episode above for the particulars, but the gist of it is this:

AM Radio is a tough asset to sell. Not many people still listen to AM radio, which means the advertising reach has shrunk.

The radio station was having trouble selling because its value, ratings, was lower than other options to advertise.

Another word that comes up a lot is constricted. When talking to people about why they have not evolved into digital there is usually a constricting reason they bring up.

Not enough time, staff, infrastructure, assets, whatever it may be.

Evolution is breaking from those restrictions to get to a more favorable position with your partners.

For this radio station, they evolved their assets with social media content. They started posting their segments, topics, and other content on the different social media channels.

They evolved where their content was distributed.

The key here…they didn’t get rid of their AM station. They took the content and re-distributed to channels that had more viewership while staying true to the listeners who were on the radio.

They evolved and saw huge gains, new sellable assets, and now could push toward a new brand of innovation for their brands.

If an AM Radio station can pull in today’s attention…your organization can too.

This is no diss to AM Radio…but you can’t deny there are constrictions there. They beautifully evolved into the attention of today…and you can too.

As we look at our own organizations…what are some things we can do today to evolve?

What content do we currently have that we can repurpose for social media channels?

How can we identify where our fans are online and make sure we are evolving the content?

I think the most important thing to do first is to look at where are the easiest places we can start evolving.

Repurposing your video, audio, and other content for social media channels is the first place to start. You can instantly start this evolution by starting here.

An example brought up in the episode is to point a phone camera at your radio broadcaster while he is doing his broadcast and post to Facebook Live.

The reach and content you can repurpose from there are massive. From there you can cut that video into micro-content for the week.

Evolving is easy to start, it just takes the initiative to do.

Start evolving today

Overall, if you aren’t evolving you are dying. This is the case in nature, humanity, and business. Sponsorship is no different.

The goal should be always evolving with whatever comes next. If evolving makes you uncomfortable, good, it should. But you need to push through to be successful.

Take risks, build it into your DNA, and your organization & career will thrive.

We are not evolving fast enough in sponsorship. We can and must do better.

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