We should always be selling benefits over features in sports sponsorships.
Features are the what. They commoditize our product. Benefits are the Why. They bring context to why a brand should spend with your team over buying more digital ads.
So what are the 3 biggest benefits that sports sponsorships bring?
On this episode of The Inches Podcast, we dive into the 3 biggest benefits that sports sponsorships bring to brands.
You can listen to the whole episode HERE. But as always below are some key points in the episode.
First, why it is so important to focus on these 3 benefits.
First & foremost, it is important to remember one vital truth in sponsorship sales…We are competing for advertising budgets.
We directly compete with other forms of advertising whether we like it or not. Yes, this means you are competing with SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and all of the other outlets brands use to reach their customers.
If we compete head-to-head against these ad platforms, we will lose. As Billy Beane so famously is quoted in Money Ball, “If we play like the Yankees in here, we’ll lose to they Yankees out there.”
Instead, we need to show differentiation. What are elements that we have in sports sponsorship that Google Ads can’t replicate? What are the benefits that come with our assets that a brand can’t get from running Facebook ads?
This is what will open up more dollars for your team, this is what will get you more sales.
The below benefits are meant to be used as tools to help your assets stand out from, and not compete with, the many advertising outlets out there.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here are the top 3 benefits you should be selling with your sports sponsorships.
1. The opportunity associated with fan passion
The most valuable thing we have as a sports team is over centuries for most teams, we have built an impassioned audience that loves our team.
In many ways, fans follow their teams closer than they do their religion. For years, we have built up this passion to be passed down from generation to generation.
When a fanbase is passionate about their team, many times they become passionate about the brands that support their passion. Our job is to authentically infuse the brand message into that passion.
Google ads don’t have this built into their product. Facebook ads either. You can try and tap into that passion with influencers, but no other ad product has a better direct line to passion than we do as sports teams.
A quick side take on this…Passion does not equate to winning. Many times, we focus on that passion when selling sponsorships when the team is winning.
If we tie the passion to winning, we lose out on a lot of value when our team isn’t performing the best.
Instead, focus in on the community and passion that comes with being a fan.
One of the best examples of this I have seen comes with a campaign done in Brazil with Sport Club Recife. The Fan Donor program created a special card for fans who consented to be organ donors.
The message they gave was that your fandom can live on long after you pass away. You are part of a long-lasting legacy of the club with this simple action. It asked them to become “immortal fans” donating their organs after they die so that their love for the club will live on in someone else’s body.
In my opinion, fucking amazing. Wow. Talk about tapping into the passion of being a fan. It had nothing to do with the performance on the pitch.
The result…the waiting list for organ transplants in the city of Recife was reduced to zero in the first year.
There is no other medium on this planet that could do this. It was the perfect way to tap into the fan passion authentically to reach a goal.
If you can focus on ways that your sponsorship package can tap into fan passion, you will differentiate yourself from every advertising medium.
In my opinion, this is the most under-utilized aspect of sports sponsorships. Exclusivity is a superpower that we have that is very hard to replicate.
We have stadiums that reach six figures in attendance in some cases. We have social media reach that can get in front of and captivate millions on game day.
With those audiences, we can offer brand exclusivity. We can tell a car partner that they will be the only car brand that will engage with that fan.
Why is this important? Ad clutter. Through television, through print ads, through out-of-home advertising we see thousands of brand messages per day. Our brains start to essentially ignore them.
This leads to wasted advertising dollars.
But with our games, we can sell that from the time a fan walks in the door, the only car brand they will be getting messages from will be theirs. We can ensure that for that time, they will have the exclusive attention of those passionate fans when it comes to car brands.
Again, I think we discount this benefit way too much…so let’s break down where else you can get this when it comes to advertising.
Will Facebook, Google, or Twitter ever allow one brand to be the exclusive car brand advertiser on their platform? Absolutely not…and in the off chance they did, the cost would be unreasonable.
How could a brand be exclusive when it comes to city billboards? They would have to either buy every billboard in town OR work out a deal with the company selling the billboards that you will be the only car brand shown in the city.
Is that likely they will do this? No.
Even with both the scenarios above, both don’t command the attention that we have in sports on our game day.
When selling a brand, use exclusivity as a key sales point. Most of the time, brands can’t get this benefit anywhere else.
3. The “Media-Heavy” hedge
The last benefit that Rich brings up here is really key and something I hadn’t thought of.
Many times brands will spend a heavy chunk of their ads on media. Whether social media or TV, they have carved out a large portion hoping that customers will see the ad while they consume their social feed or favorite show and come make a purchase.
With all advertising spending, brands are making a bet. The bet is that this medium will help them grow customers at a larger rate than their competitors.
The problem with a media-heavy bet today comes with the number of options consumers have to skip/ignore ads.
On streaming, you can skip an ad or easily ignore the ad. We’ve all done it, wait until that “Skip ad” button shows up on YouTube or go out of the room when that ad plays on Hulu.
If a brand is making this heavy of a bet, it should hedge with something that is hard to ignore as a customer.
Kiss Cam at a game…hard to ignore. An activation at halftime like SQWAD’s Shuffle Game is hard to ignore.
Our packages can be the hedge to a brand’s media-heavy strategy. It can help their brand stand out in those media buys as the fan has seen the brand at our sports games. they have seen the logo and interacted with it at a game, so when that logo shows up in a TV ad, they focus more on it.
This can help you turn another advertising outlet’s flaws into a win. You can pitch the Media Hedge to bring context to why they should spend with your team.
All of the above benefits are keys to how your team can stand out. Instead of competing with other advertising outlets head to head, use these benefits to help your team and your sponsorship packages stand out.