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2023 Sports Sponsorship Predictions

What a year that we are headed into with sports sponsorship. The struggles from a pandemic that shut down our business and games seem to be finally fading off, getting us back to full stadiums of fans to introduce our brand sponsors.

But what will 2023 bring? Can we really know?

No, but it is always fun to look at the upcoming year and dive into some trends and predictions we are seeing.

In this episode of The Inches Podcast, Rich & I dive into our 2023 predictions for the sponsorship industry.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I dive into the key points below.

1. Due to economic concerns, fringe sports will take a hit

Will a recession happen? Who knows…but we have already seen some reactions in the market even with the chance that it will happen. Layoffs, budget cuts, you name it.

In sponsorship…this affects us. When marketing budgets get cut, sports sponsorship sometimes is seen as an unnecessary spend.

This will disproportionately affect fringe sports more than the big league ones. Even with the looming recession, we will see sponsors pull their dollars in minor league and fringe sports.

So how do we stop it? How can we ensure that our sponsorship is not what is cut?

Proving value. If you can prove the value and show the ROI of your sponsorship activations & assets, you will win those dollars.

For example, if your Car Dealership sponsor has a goal of earning leads…you need to show them how you can help them earn leads at a high level. If you can do this, you will become essential, not expendable.

Activations like SQWAD’s Scoreboard Shuffle can help your sponsor earn leads, send offers, and capture fan attention on game day. It is the perfect inventory to add to your sponsor package to ensure that they say yes.

So if you are a smaller organization, focus on ROI. It will help you get deals across the line.

2. YouTube will become even more powerful for your team & sponsors

We’ve written about it before, but just when we thought YouTube couldn’t get any more valuable…it shows even more ways it is the go-to platform for video.

Fans consume HUGE amounts of video content on this platform. Even bigger is how much brands spend here to reach those fans.

The big step this year came with NFL Sunday Ticket finding its home on YouTube. There is more & more reason for fans to use the platform as the go-to place to consume their sports content.

Your team needs to create a strategy and content to post on YouTube in 2023.

A couple of big reasons why:

  1. The amount of money brands are spending here is insane. YouTube has brought in $34Bn in advertising revenue in the last 3 years alone. It generates $1.65Bn in advertising revenue every 3 weeks. Your sponsors are spending their ad dollars here. If you can build an asset on YouTube, chances are they will spend dollars on it.
  2. There is nothing stopping you. You can package and create content to post on the platform with nothing to stop you. There are definitely tips and tricks you will need to follow to make sure you get views, but it is a free service to reach a brand-new audience.

As YouTube picks up steam (which isn’t close to the ceiling yet), the teams that create content here will be in the driver’s seat to grab those dollars.

3. Growth in streaming

Much like the above, not only content you can post on YouTube will be valuable. All streaming will be key and important to dive into in 2023 as you create a strategy around digital.

Live sports is one of the most valuable and watched video content. In most cases, disproportionately so.

Yes, sometimes your live-streaming game action is stopped by the league due to broadcast deals. But we can still get creative here to help reach the value.

What if we live-streamed warmups from the field or on the ice? Get a camera on the sideline to stream the receivers warming up then post on YouTube Live or other channels.

Imagine the number of views that can bring your team. It can be a catalyst for the other content you have. It will be a channel that is unique and grabs attention.

When there is unique content, sponsors love being a part of it. They love being the first on content that grabs eyeballs.

Unique streaming opportunities will be the new sexy inventory in 2023 that sponsors will eat up.

4. Segmentation of fan data

For decades, we have pitched the idea of “here is what our fan base looks like”. Many times, this is a good audience to reach for brands.

The problem with this overall audience is it is just that, a wide net. There is no niche to target.

In every other corner of the advertising world, a niche audience is gold. On digital ads you can segment customers down to the last content they liked.

Brands love segmented audiences because they can get the right message to the right person and not waste messaging on those not interested.

In 2023, being able to segment your fan data based on interests will set teams apart when it comes to making sponsorship packages.

As an example, let’s say you create a team newsletter that focuses on the many culinary sides of the team. Maybe it features nutritional advice from the team cook as well as recipes from players on the team with their favorite dishes.

Pretty niche. You may get only 1,000 fans to sign up in a season.

Now let’s say an oven maker comes to your team to see if they want to sponsor your team. This is definitely the audience they want to reach. Selling them on sponsorship of the newsletter is probably the item that will get them over the line.

Is it 50,000 fans? No. Is it access to 1,000 fans most likely to care about the features and benefits of their oven products? YES!

As we look to 2023, the teams that can segment their fan base through content and package that into inventory to sell sponsors will make the most money. It can be as easy as the example above, you don’t need a data scientist to do it.

Get started today.

5. There will be a renewed emphasis on guest experience

Fans, for the most part, are back in our stadiums. Restrictions are no more, and I think it is safe to say that the comfort level of being in a crowd is very high compared to even last year.

But with the pandemic came certain habits that keep fans at home. We taught them how to consume from their couch for years as we couldn’t have fans in the stands.

These habits mean we need in-stadium experiences that will convince them to get off the couch and come to our games.

Is your game day experience enough to do so? What key moments are you creating beyond the action on the court, ice, or field that will keep them coming back?

In 2023, we’ll need to find things that will enhance our game experience to ensure that fans crave coming back to the game.

It can be little things, like during a TV time out adding an engaging game like SQWAD’s Scoreboard Trivia. Fans can play along on their phones and win prizes when correct to give them the incentive to come back each game.

Or a pregame experience that really stands out. Maybe it is an AR activation shown through your scoreboard.

But Nick, what does this have to do with sponsorship? I’m not on game ops?

Many times, sponsors can be the funding for these great experiences. Most of the time, if there is something that grabs a fan’s attention, they want to be a part of it.

So as you are looking for new inventory for your sponsors, don’t forget to look at the game experience. What are some ways that you can not only keep fans coming back but also create new inventory that will connect them to sponsors while doing so.

 

Again, no one knows what 2023 will bring. It’s a crap shoot.

But given the current environment, if you can focus on the 5 items above you should be in a great spot to succeed.

Sports Sponsorship 2023 New Year Resolutions

Champagne for the sports sponsorship industry

It’s a new year in sports sponsorship.

The history of New Year’s Resolutions dates back almost 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. In their 12-day celebration for a new year, they would project forward what they hoped to achieve in the new year.

That is all to say, we as humans have been promising ourselves to be better each year for a fair amount of time. It is in our DNA.

A new year means a chance to have a fresh start in our industry of sports sponsorships. As we turn the page to 2023, we see a fair amount of headwinds coming our way.

It’s the perfect time to refocus and make some promises to stick to throughout the year.

In this episode of The Inches podcast, Rich and I dive into the New Year’s Resolutions we have for the sports sponsorship industry. We’re bringing it back from 2020.

You can listen to the full episode HERE, but as always see below for a quick breakdown.

1. Ignore The Noise

I think we all in the industry have heard of or read about the headwinds that are anticipated for this upcoming year.

An economic downturn, recession, whatever you want to call it…we are starting to see companies brace for an adjustment to growth by cutting spending.

Tangibly, we see this with some of the biggest companies laying off workers and cutting ad spend. This means less $$$ for us to go capture.

How can you combat this? Ignore the noise.

Foundationally, I think this is the best resolution you can make for yourself in the sports sponsorship industry this year. It is a promise to not get freaked out about the things you cannot control and let it affect your game plan & execution.

You can’t stop a recession… but you can double-down your focus on the value you bring clients & win the diminished budget.

As Rich brings up in the episode, choose not to participate in a recession.

As you head into what can become a tumultuous year in 2023, ignore the noise and focus on your main goal in sports sponsorship…which should be to maximize the value you bring to your sponsors.

2. Resolve to have more sales engagement > spammy sales

Reaching target customers has never been easier. We have the ability to build a list of 1,000 potential prospects, automate the email, and reach them all in minutes.

The problem with the above, sales are built on relationships. It is hard to automate relationships.

In 2023, focus on sales engagement over automated selling.

What is sales engagement? It’s actions in the sales process that help you build a relationship before trying to sell your product.

An example I always bring up of sales engagement drives back to when I sold restaurant ads. Before trying to engage with a prospect, I would go to their restaurant and eat a meal. I would ask what they were known for while having that meal and focus on understanding the biggest items that made the restaurant special.

Then, I would email the owner. Mentioning the dish and saying I would love to help travelers know about it through our hotel book.

I took the time to get to know the product before I fired off a sales email. That is sales engagement.

Did I reach every owner and get them to buy? No. But the ones that did engage with me closed at a higher rate and bought more ad space than the ones that I just shot off an automated email to.

As we dive into 2023, look at how you prospect new business and see if you are doing more sales engagement or sales automation. If your process is heavy on the automation side, build in more sales engagement items.

3. Be a Helper in sports sponsorship

You can never go wrong with this resolution. If you can find ways to be helpful, you usually see the value come back 10X in this industry.

Be a helper with your sponsors. How are you helping them maximize their value with your sports sponsorship package? Even further than that, can you help them look like a rockstar by hosting their son’s little league team for a pregame experience?

Be a helper to your co-workers. Can you help your marketing team fund an activation with sponsor dollars? Can you help make an in-game segment easier with a few execution tweaks?

If you focus on being a helper, you’ll see the returns throughout the year. Even better, expect nothing in return and be surprised when it comes back to you.

4. Try a new channel for an entire season/year

This one is a bit more tactical than the others, but I think one of the more important items to look at as you head into the new year.

So much in sports business and media, we rely on a few ‘known’ channels to distribute our content and by relation…build inventory to sell our sponsors.

But this will lead to tunnel vision. We focus so much on Twitter or Instagram that we don’t try new channels and see new opportunities.

In 2023, commit to trying to build an audience on a new channel that your team hasn’t tried before.

It can be YouTube, Tik Tok, Pinterest, Facebook Stories, or whatever you think will bring you the most value back.

The key to making this a resolution is to stick with it for an entire year. Many times, we try a new channel, don’t see immediate results…and then quit. This makes it so we never learn, tweak, and grow on that channel. If you look for instant results…you will probably not see them and abandon the campaign.

When you abandon this, you abandon the potential & opportunity.

Choose a channel, educate yourself on it, test it, and stick with it for an entire year. The results can only compound..better yet you can open up brand-new inventory to sell to sponsors.

5. Focus on time management in sports sponsorship

This is probably a good resolution every year, but it has a big place in the ability to execute the above resolutions.

One thing we don’t have in abundance in the sports industry is time. We can’t be inefficient with it when it comes to executing in the sports sponsorship industry.

A good way to get started is to carve out some time to do a scheduled audit. What are you spending your time on currently? What is taking the most time in your work day?

Then break those back down to your yearly goals. Is that what you should be focusing your time on? Do those actions that you spend time on help you get closer to your goals?

Take some time this week, do an audit, and then work toward a schedule that helps you manage your time more efficiently to help reach your yearly goals. Your future self in 2024 will thank you.

Choose 1, choose all 5, or whatever you think you can manage. But make your resolutions for this year and commit to helping build a better-executed 2023.

 

The Art To Upsell In Sports Sponsorship

Upsell sports sponsorship
Upselling is an art.

The best thing about a full client list is we have customers that have believed the pitch and spent dollars on your assets. It shouldn’t take much to upsell your current sponsorship clients in sports.

They get it. They are onboard.

Now you’re in year two, and you’re looking to open more revenue from your current sponsors. You’re looking to upsell them.

But where do you start? How can you make sure the relationship doesn’t turn transactional?

In this episode of The Inches Podcast, we dive into the art of the Upsell in sports sponsorships.

You can listen to the full episode HERE. But as always, some key points below.

First, what is the value of an upsell in your current sports sponsorships?

Let’s really jump into the core WHY? of upselling current sponsors. Efficiency.

Most of the time, the sponsor already believes in the sponsorship product you are putting out there. They have built the trust with you. They know what you have to offer and the value it brings.

In short, you don’t have to spend time convincing them of this. The hours you spend selling a new asset will for the most part be less than selling to a new prospect that is skeptical of your product.

Less time means a more efficient selling process, which ultimately means a more profitable client.

Before we dive into the real value (relationships, maximization of value), the big why you should be looking at upselling is simply because it is a more profitable business activity for your department. This is key in the focus to upsell in sports sponsorship.

Upsell in sports sponsorship is all about your partner’s potential

The goal of every partnership should be reaching their potential in the partnership.

In college my football coach talked constantly about a player’s full potential. That few reach it, but our goal as a player should be to unlock our full potential as a player.

He drove home that each player has different levels of full potential, but we will never know what that level is until we put in the work and time to unlock it.

I think the same way about sports sponsorships.

The most valuable aspect about upselling in my mind is the constant journey to help our sponsor reach the full potential of the partnership. What is the maximum value we can push for and achieve for them?

Notice how this changes the mindset of the upsell. The goal is not to sell more products or assets. The goal is to help our sponsors reach their full potential of value in our partnership.

If we go into the upsell with a mindset to “sell that outfield sign no one wants yet”, we aren’t starting with their interests and goals in mind. We are looking to reach our internal goals first. It will backfire on us and hurt the relationship.

If reaching their full potential is the mindset we take with our partners, the result will be selling more assets…but the added kicker will be solidifying the relationship with your partner. If you focus on maximizing potential in your upsell, you build a feedback loop that will help you close more revenue each year.

Look at your current sponsor list & ask yourself “why are they stuck at $X spend?”

A good process that Rich brings up in the process of identifying who to upsell comes with asking yourself two questions;

  1. Is this sponsor stuck at $X spending?
  2. Why are they stuck at $X spending?

It’s a good exercise to help you understand and dive deep into how you can help them reach their full potential.

For example, let’s say your local chain restaurant has been spending $10,000 a year for the last 3 seasons. Seemingly, they are stuck at that spend with you.

If we dive into the why, we can start to think through what we can offer to help them get to a higher spend.

If we look at the average QSR spend in sports sponsorship, this spend is low. So why aren’t they spending more with us?

Is it because they are at their limit of budget?

Is it because they don’t think that spending more on our assets will yield a result that is worth it?

Is it because they only see the value of your package in one lense (maybe they only sponsor your team to promote their community initiatives).

As we dive into each of our current sponsors, you can make a list of the reasons why the partner is stuck at that spend. From there, we can start to understand what we need to do to increase it and upsell in sports sponsorship.

Once you find the why, context is everything to upsell your sports sponsorships

I bring this up a lot because I think it is a cardinal sin in sports sponsorships that we fall into.

The brand sponsor doesn’t care that you have a new sign in left field or jersey patch asset. They care how it will help them toward their marketing goals.

With this, as with new prospects, the key to closing the upsell.

Context is the WHY. As Rich brings up on the podcast, each prospect has a sign around their neck that says “So What?”. It is your job to answer that question.

So how do we find context to upsell in sports sponsorship? There are 3 main ways;

Understanding their marketing goals

You should know your sponsor’s marketing goals like the back of your hand. If you don’t, find them out.

Every company has marketing goals they are looking to hit. Those goals may change year to year, but every company has them.

Your job is to help them reach those goals with your sponsorship assets.

So the first way to upsell a sports sponsor…and probably easiest…is to simply know their marketing goals.

Is breaking into a certain customer segment key for them (like reaching families in their community)? If so, adding more inventory into your package that helps them reach that goal should be an easy sell.

The continuation of your package to double down on helping your sponsor reach their goal is the easiest, and usually most beneficial way to help your team drive more revenue through upselling.

Understanding what is coming up (new product launches, etc)

Beyond current marketing goals, it is important to understand what is coming in the future with your sponsors in order to upsell them.

For example, knowing that there is a new product they are launching helps you craft a campaign that can maximize the awareness and purchases with your fanbase.

Knowing about a new investment into a community initiative will do the same thing.

Rich and I have talked about this in past episodes, but if you know what new initiatives are coming up, you can be proactive in opening new buckets of budget to spend with your team.

The best way to do this comes with three actions. The first…ask your sponsor directly what future initiatives are coming down the line. Simply asking can help you get the most detailed information on them.

The second, press releases. Many companies have blogs where they release information on upcoming deals and products.

The third, looking at the ads they are already spending on in social media. If they are spending dollars here, they most likely will want to promote the CTA in these ads further for better results.

Future initiatives are the second easiest way to add new inventory to upsell sponsors.

Understanding the industry they play in & the stuggles

The third comes with really understanding the industry that your sponsor plays in. It’s a bit harder to do than the above items…but if you can pull it off, the upsell inventory will be killer.

For example, in the auto industry recently the problem hasn’t been demand…it has been supply. Dealerships simply don’t have certain models on the lot to sell…and if they do they consumer can’t get it for months.

Understanding this item means you can create inventory and campaigns that help them solve this industry problem.

For example, utilizing a digital campaign that earns leads and builds relationships with fans can help for when the pendulum shifts from too much demand to too much supply.

A campaign like SQWAD’s prediction games where fans compete against dealership sales people each game will earn emails and build trust. When the dealership needs leads to tap into when the industry shifts…they will have a fresh audience to tap into.

Understanding industry shifts, like the above example, can open context to new campaigns.  The new campaigns are opportunities to upsell that sponsor for years to com.

 

With these three items, you can use your assets to answer the “so what?” question. This will help you upsell in sports sponsorship.

Last, make sure you are in good standing with your sponsors before you try and upsell them.

This sounds like common sense…but we lose sight of it a lot in sponsorship.

If you are not in good standing with a sponsor…don’t try and upsell them for new inventory. It is the easiest way to hurt your relationship with them.

At its core…why would a sponsor spend more with you if you aren’t giving them results?

Put another way…if you paid for advertising and the agency didn’t provide results, how would you feel if they asked for you to spend more?

Most likely it would make you trust them even less to get the job done.

Asking for an upsell before you have delivered for them on the initial package turns a relationship into a transactional one. You are obviously thinking about your sales quota over their goals and needs.

As you look to upsell your current clients, really ask yourself “have we knocked it out of the park for them?” before approaching for an upsell. If you haven’t, focus your energy on knocking it out of the park for them.

Now go out and get those upsells.

If you are looking for new inventory to offer, our digital activations at SQWAD can help your organization drive new revenue this upcoming season.

More relationships touchpoints, less logo touchpoints in sports sponsorship

In sports sponsorship, and really all sponsorship, we get bogged down in assets.

It somewhat makes sense…it is the product we sell. Our mindset sometimes shifts to “How many signs can I get sold?”.

Many times though, those assets we focus on are heavy in what I’ll call “Logo Touchpoints”. As I have mentioned before, your

Why? Well, fans see over 3,000 sponsorship ads per game when in your stadium. Our brains begin to become numb to logos much like they do to other advertisements. They don’t remember them…or even notice they are there.

For this reason, the touchpoints that we create between brand and fan can’t all be logos.

We have to create moments that focus on building relationships…especially with our auto, bank, and insurance partners.

In the most recent Sponsorship Tip of the Week, I dive into why you should be looking at touchpoints that build relationships over logo touchpoints.

Check out the full video, but I’ll dive in more below.

Why? Relationship touchpoints are more valuable in sports sponsorship

When we think about building our packages with sponsors, we have to be thinking about the value it creates for our brands.

As I mentioned above, the number of sponsorship ads fans are exposed to are mind-numbing (literally). This makes the value of a logo touchpoint less valuable as an advertising asset.

Why? Because it is less noticed. It is a CPM metric…which is the lowest cost in the advertising game.

We have captivated audiences in our stadiums each game. Passionate fans that are locked in and passionate about our teams. If we leverage that passion with logo touch points, it would be like trying to get water from a waterfall with 5 individual spoons. You will miss out on a lot of water and come away with a minimal amount collected.

In other words, we miss the full potential of that attention.

Now let’s switch it to relationship touchpoints. These are 1-on-1 interactions with fans that they will remember long after the game. They stand out. They are unique moments that help build the authentic relationship between the fan and the spnosor.

The value of a 1-on-1 conversation with a potential customer is much more valuable than a logo flash to 100,000 fans. The likelihood of closing a sale from that is much higher than with a logo.

Lastly, it allows the brand to stand out with their brand. They can get creative and find unique ways to grab that fan’s attention.

So the “why” becomes, a relationship touchpoint is more valuable than a logo touchpoint. Being more valuable…you can charge more for it.

What are some examples of relationship touchpoints in sports sponsorship?

I’ll start with there is no cookie-cutter formula for these touchpoints…or there shouldn’t be. If we start to cookie-cutter these assets…they become less valuable.

Now there are some tried & true assets that have worked. Boothing in the concourse is a great relationship touchpoint that gets your sponsors 1-on-1 opportunities to build a relationship with fans.

But…I would challenge your sponsorship team to dive in deeper than just adding a booth.

When we think about the biggest benefit to relationship touchpoints…it is the relationships they build. If we just offer our sponsors boothing opportunities with no direction…there is a high likelihood they will turn this into a sales booth.

It is hard to build a relationship with fans when the first touchpoint is a sales one. You may get the fans who are hot leads in the market…but you miss out on the ones that aren’t yet ready.

Instead, let’s help our brands get creative with the relationship touchpoints. Replace just the booth with branded pop-shots that fans can come to and take a shot at.

This reverses the fan’s fight or flight reflex. It is an un-threatening opening that pulls the fan in. No strings attached.

Today especially, some of these touchpoints need to be digital. Why? Well, fans are digital. They are on their phones.

An example of this can come with digitizing a Mascot Race. The Mascot Race in itself is a relationship-building touchpoint. It starts the relationship with a fun race that fans can gravitate towards without a sales pitch.

More than that, it stands out. It is unique in the stadium.

But we always want to continue the fan journey from touchpoint to touchpoint, this is where digitizing the experience can help.

For example, with the Dunkin Race in both the Chicago Bulls and Bears stadiums, fans can choose which character they think will win right on their phone through SQWAD’s Mascot Race activation.

When they win, they get a free offer for their next visit to Dunkin’. This offer in itself is another relationship touchpoint that centers around reciprocity. You are building the relationship further with the offer.

Then, the fan redeems the offer at the store, which is the final relationship touchpoint…and really the end goal for the sponsor. The customer service they receive creates a cycle to do the whole cycle over again.

Mapping these relationship touchpoints is the key to building your package as they can compound in the value they build.

How do I structure them into my sports sponsorship packages?

So should there only be relationship-building assets in your packages? No. Logo touchpoints do have a cognitive value…and honestly, we have so much logo inventory that our revenue numbers would dwindle (that is another problem for another day).

Relationship-based inventory should be the key foundation of your package. They should be pillar assets that the logo touchpoint assets are built upon.

With this, the ratio I recommend is 1 relationship touchpoint for every 2 logo touchpoints.

Will this challenge you to not fill a package with logo touchpoints? Yes. Will your sponsor thank you for not pitching them yet another package that is filled with logo touchpoints?

Absolutely.

Again, these shouldn’t be just “we are adding a booth for our relationship touchpoint”. This isn’t what brands pay you for.

Each relationship touchpoint should be key moments in the fan’s journey from point A to point B…with point A being “I’ve never interacted with this brand” and point B “I am purchasing from them”.

Adding relationship touchpoints into your sports sponsorship packages will help your packages make sense with your brands and help you sell more sponsorships.

Any brand you work with would rather have a relationship with its customers than just logo recognition. If you can create moments in your game that help build those relationships…the value of your sponsorship packages skyrockets.

If you can systemize this thought process into the way you create packages, your team will win more deals at a higher revenue rate.

At SQWAD, we can help you do this with our suite of digital sponsorship activations. We’ve done so for over 30 sports teams and their brands. Give us a shout if you are interested in learning more.

 

What is Sports Promotion?

sports promotion stadium photo

The power and emotion of sports are powerful tools. Our teams have created fan bases with similar characteristics, and followings that rival some religions.

Fans want to be part of something, it is a human need that lives deep in our brains. Sports teams fill that need with the ups and downs of each season.

If we can harness this need and emotion, we can use it to direct fans to action. This is why sports promotion is such a powerful tool for both brands and sports teams.

Sports promotion involves authentically infusing a message into the power and emotion of sports. It is the act of piggybacking our message into that fanaticism. Usually, this maximizes our sports sponsorships.

In this article, we will dive into the dos and don’ts of sports marketing & promotion, and how you can successfully launch campaigns to reach fans.

What Are The Best Sports Promotions?

The best sports promotions tap into the excitement of the game, while authentically adding in a message or goal (usually for your sponsors). Below are a few that are easy to launch and great for capturing fan attention.

Mascot Race- A Time Honored Tradition in Minor League Baseball and the Big Leagues

Nothing grabs attention during breaks in the game like a good old-fashioned mascot race. The same way fans start to build loyalty to their favorite players… they can also build that same connection with your mascots.

The best ones tie into the culture of the city. For example, the Seattle Mariners run a Hydro Race that shows boats crisscrossing through the waters on the Puget Sound. Fans can choose which boat they think will win on their phones, creating even more buy-in from the fans.

Tie in a sponsor to this experience, and you can authentically create a connection between that brand and the fans.

Prediction Games at Major League Baseball Stadiums

Fans love to predict the outcome of the game…or even the outcome of an at-bat or drive-in football. There is a rush that we feel when we can actually feel like we are part of the game.

That rush can easily be transferred into an affinity for a brand sponsor with a sports prediction promotion.

It doesn’t have to be one that focuses on gaining money for the outcome, like betting. You can easily add in different incentives that help drive foot traffic for a brand. The Pittsburgh Pirates launched a 4th 5th 6th Inning prediction with their tavern sponsor to help connect that excitement with their restaurant sponsor. One lucky fan who was correct won a free steak dinner.

Predictions games can be a great sports promotion to help your sponsors reach their goals.

Trigger Promotion- Sports Events With Local Flavor

Trigger promotions are a great way to help fans feel like they are affecting the game. A trigger promotion is one where the entire stadium wins a prize if a milestone is reached in a game.

For example, a hockey team can tie a free oil change for all fans to the team’s ability to score a goal in the first 2 minutes. Maybe if a baseball team hits 4 home runs, they can win a free doughnut from the team’s pastry partner.

The best part of a trigger promotion is that it raises the intensity of the crowd. They roar even louder as the milestone gets closer, making it impossible for the opposing team to communicate or play defense.

The Chicago Bulls run a great trigger promotion with their hot dog sponsor called Portillo’s 4th Quarter Franks.

It’s a simple activation. If the opposing player misses 2 consecutive free throws in the 4th quarter of a home game, each fan goes home with a free hot dog at Portillo’s.

As you can imagine, in the 4th quarter…when free throws matter the most… the crowd is screaming at the top of their lungs to try and make the opposing player miss. They want their free hot dog…but more importantly, they want to be the reason they earned it.

To make it even easier, SQWAD has digitized the experience to ensure every fan can easily redeem their hot dog…but more importantly, the sponsor can track their promotion to see how many fans played and won the offer.

They simply scan a QR code on the scoreboard and enter their email address to register. No more missed hot dogs for fans.

Find a good stat or milestone in your gameday and match a sponsor prize with a trigger promotion.

basketball

Scratch & Win- Engage the Larger Audience

Fans love to win things. But sometimes if you have multiple promotions to win, you cancel their attention. With multiple options to play & win… you divide where fans will end up engaging.

The result is that certain sponsors don’t get the same attention as others, which doesn’t bode well for getting them to continue to invest in your sports promotions.

With East Tennessee State University, they wanted to tie in multiple brand sponsors to one central promotion to help send coupons to fans. What better way to do so than with a digital scratch & win. Raise awareness to a target audience at a sporting event is good business.

During home basketball & football games, the ETSU scratch & win is posted for fans to play. It is loaded with offers of over 17 unique sponsors. Fans scratch digital cards to win prizes right on their phones. It could be a free burger from their local restaurant or a tank of gas from a car dealership looking to build trust and connection with future car buyers.

By creating a central sports promotion, you don’t cannibalize attention. A scratch & win is the perfect activation to help focus fan attention in one place…maximizing the results of the campaign. Easy access to resources with budget friendly features means clients and potential customers get the best result possible. Online contests are a fun marketing strategy for sports fans.

QR code on a scratch and win game

How Do You Promote A Sport With Digital?

Understanding where humans focus is the easiest way to devise a strategy to reach them. In the past, attention was put on print & radio…followed by television.

Today, our fans’ attention comes on their phones. It is a magnet when the game action stops in our arenas.

Our job is to redirect that attention back to campaigns that help connect our fans with our sponsors. The easiest way to do that is with digital campaigns that allow them to participate in the campaign.

Luckily, our fans have their phones inside of our stadiums.

Putting a QR code on your scoreboard that links to a digital game is an easy way to grab that attention back. From there, they can participate and have some skin in the game with the promotion.

This is far more beneficial than simply running a commercial on your scoreboard. It pulls the fan in while creating an asset that is more trackable for results.

Utilize your scoreboards to channel the fan attention and pull in their phones to help drive participation.

Benefits Of Sports Marketing

So what are the key benefits of sports marketing? Why would a company want to use our audience of fans to promote their products?

The greatest asset we have is the affinity our fans have for our team. We as teams (for the most part) have built this affinity over decades…. Some over centuries.

Teams are almost that friend who sets you up on your first date. Why would you go on a date with a perfect stranger? Well, usually it is because you trust your friend.

The same goes for sports marketing. The affinity and trust we have built with our fans can be transferred to trust in brands through our campaigns & promotions. As we make the introduction…the fan assumes it is a good brand if they support their favorite team.

That trust needs to be nurtured over time. After the first date (sports promotion or campaign in a stadium), we want to continue to find ways to keep the fan connected. This is where sports marketing comes into effect.

Game after game, year after year, if we are consistent with our campaigns, eventually we build brand loyalty for the fan.

This is the key to why brands love sports marketing and spend over $56Bn per year globally on them.

Challenges For Sports Marketing

The two biggest challenges for sports marketing come with authenticity and attention.

To capture a fan’s attention and tap into their affinity for a team, we have to authentically link our sports promotions into that experience. Anything else will feel forced or inauthentic. Today, fans can sniff out when you are simply trying to sell them something.

Your campaigns must center around authenticity. Looking back at the Mascot Race example with the Seattle Mariners, if that race simply was the sponsor’s logos running around a race track…it wouldn’t have captured the fan’s attention. They would feel the inauthenticity.

Instead, they made the focal point a hydro boat race around the Puget Sound, something that everyone in Seattle appreciates and loves. Making it the focal point of this sports promotion helped make it feel authentic.

In addition, you have to do something that will grab fans’ attention in the stadium. You have to violate their expectations with something unique. If you don’t, the promotion will go over the fan’s head.

Think about all the distractions fans see in the stadium during breaks in the game. If you aren’t doing something to snap their attention back to your promotion, you will get low participation, which means low results for your fans.

So what can you do to grab their attention? A few items include:

  • Utilizing a big, amazing prize they can win
  • Making the characters unique and interesting
  • Tying it in with team nostalgia or history

These are just a few items to keep in mind when crafting your sports campaigns.

Why It’s Important To Build Relationships

Today, sales & marketing aren’t transactional. Customers want the brand to build a relationship with them before they go for the sale.

This changes the entire strategy of marketing and advertising, and pushes it in favor of sports promotions. We have fans who have built a relationship with our team. All we need to do is transfer that relationship to the businesses that sponsor us.

Sports promotions are a great way to ease businesses into that relationship. With each game they interact with our promotions, fans will become familiar with the company sponsors.

For example, if you can run a fun scratch & win each game where fans participate to try and win a jersey. They will become familiar with the brand sponsoring it. Each time they play, they build loyalty.

If you can add prizes (like a free coffee), you build that connection and relationship even more with the brand. Compare this to just handing out a paper coupon after the game, and it pales compared to the relationships it builds.

Advertising without relationship building is a losing strategy in today’s marketing world. Sports promotions are a great way to build a relationship with sports team fans.

Digital Promotions in MLB

We dove into the importance of digital sports promotions & marketing in the world of baseball in a previous article. Digital marketing has given us the tools to accelerate the power of sports promotions in our stadiums.

Whether you are crafting sports promotions for a baseball team or another sport, digital sports promotions should be the key distribution method to reach fans. It is usually more scalable, trackable, and easier to grab their attention.

Sports Promotions are a powerful marketing tool

Today, it is essential for businesses to build relationships with their customers. Normally this is a heavy lift for them, it’s hard to connect with a logo.

Sports promotions and marketing are a great way to help sponsors piggyback off the affinity and fanaticism that we have built over decades of games and exciting moments.

At SQWAD, we can help you harness that affinity and authentically connect your brand partners with fans through our easy-to-launch digital activations. We’ve done so for over 60 sports organizations across the globe.

Click here to get in touch.

10 Digital Baseball In Game Promotions That Engage Fans

Digital baseball in game promotions are taking ball games for a turn. Upping the game.

A summer day of baseball at the ballpark is one of the most coveted American pastimes. Generations have been raised on hot dogs, peanuts, and home runs.

But it’s not just what happens on the field that makes the experience. There are always fun and engaging experiences in-between the pitches and hits that can help your team drive participation and excitement with fans.

Today, we will dive into a few ideas to help your team capture fan attention during breaks in the action to drive more engagement and even more sponsorship revenue on game day in your ballparks.

Gone are the days of only having bobblehead giveaway items, autographs, and other free merchandise. If the past few years has taught us anything in regards to baseball, its that digital makes fan engagement easier.

What Are Digital In Game Promotions In Baseball?

Digital in-game promotions in baseball help take what we’ve seen in ballparks for years and allow fans to fully participate with them through their smartphones. They have opened up a new experience allowing every fan to join in a feel a part of the action.

It follows the shift that we see today between digital marketing vs. traditional marketing, especially when you are tying a corporate sponsor to the promotion.

Usually, they are presented during breaks in the action (in between innings, etc.) to keep the excitement of the games flowing and make sure that fans don’t flock to their social media feeds as they sit and wait for play to resume.

Baseball In Game Promotions That Work for Major or Minor League Baseball Teams

We’ve put together a diverse list of in-game baseball promotions below that not only will keep your fans engaged, but also can help you drive more digital sponsorship revenue in the process. These between inning contests are a surefire way to raise engagement while opening new revenue streams through sponsorships.

Let’s dive in.

4th, 5th, 6th Inning Win

Nothing better than tying a team or sponsor offer to an outcome in the game. Fans will feed off the excitement of each inning as they watch in hopes that their prediction is correct.

You can harness this excitement with a promotion like SQWAD’s 4th 5th 6th inning win. Fans simply on their phones try and predict which inning your team will score a run in; the 4th inning, 5th inning, or 6th inning.

sports sponsorship pick the inning game

As they watch the game, they sit on the edge of their seats when their inning comes up. The excitement grows when a player gets to 3rd base. Will he make it home so I can win my prize?

When your team scores in the inning they picked, elation ensues. That score which may be meaningless in a blowout is the most important moment in the game for them. Win or lose, they are tied to it every game.

Through our system, fans receive their sponsor offer via email for easy redemption in the stadium or at home to make the experience even sweeter. This activation is a must-have in your ballpark.

Make the Call Ticket Promotion

It’s always great to get your ticket staff involved on game day to help build relationships and sell more tickets.

Have fans call into a ticket salesperson’s direct line to make the call on a certain stat in the game. Have the ticket salesperson take down the pick, name, & phone number.

If correct, the ticket salesperson can call or email the fan directly to get them their prize, creating a great moment for them to upsell tickets to future games and build a relationship with the fans.

Scoreboard Trivia

Fans love to put their team knowledge to the test. We constantly are to prove that we in fact are the most knowledgeable fan in the stadium.

Scoreboard trivia allows them to do just that during the long breaks in the action for your team.

During a break in the 4th inning, fans see the question and possible answers pop onto the scoreboard. They scan a QR code to answer for themselves on their phone.

During the game, they can see where others have answered to contemplate their decision.

scoreboard trivia sports activation

At a moment’s notice, the answers are revealed. If the fan is correct, they win a prize sent to them directly via email for easy redemption.

Trivia is a perfect way to keep fans engaged during a long inning swap or pitching changes.

Check out our scoreboard trivia activation for more details.

Bongo Cam

Fans LOVE to get on the scoreboard. It’s their 3 seconds of fame. It can make their entire game day experience.

But we can push them to do more than just wave at the camera or give a thumbs up. We can make it even more memorable for them.

Enter the Bongo Cam.

bongo cam sports sponsorship activation

It’s a simple but effective way to get fans out of their seats and engage with your scoreboard. As fans see the bongos they try and play to the beat. It’s best to add some great music as you run this promotion that has a funky bongo groove to it.

On the team side, all you have to do is add an overlay to your scoreboard video, and BOOM! You have engagement that will be memorable long after fan embarrassment fades off.

Add a sponsor to the experience (logo on the bongos, etc.) and you’ll be able to tie their brand with the fun and unique experience.

Hat Shuffle

Nothing beats a good hat shuffle. Reminiscent of the hidden ball games we sometimes see from street performers, fans watch as a baseball is hidden underneath a cap.

The hats start in a flurry of moves. The fan struggling to follow which hat has the ball underneath it. In an instant

In the past, fans only yelled out the answer with no reward if they were correct. But today, you can digitize the experience on the fan’s phone.

With SQWAD’s Hat Shuffle digital activation, we give fans the power to guess right on their phone which hat the ball is under. If they are correct, they win a prize that is sent right to their email.

The best part is the cheers, and groans, as the answer is revealed. Don’t worry, you can send a prize home with fans who aren’t correct as well to keep everyone happy.

A Hat Shuffle is a perfect activation to play in between your innings while keeping them engaged and focused on your sponsor.

Bark in the Park is Popular for Minor League Teams

Most sports fans LOVE their four-legged companions. Many will dress them in team attire to mesh both passions of the team and dog.

This leaves the perfect opportunity for a great promotional night for sports teams.

Simply make one of your game days a Bark in the Park themed game where fans can bring their dogs to enjoy the park.

To digitize the experience and get maximum reach, have fans post a photo of their dog on social media with a hashtag around the event. This is a great way to pull engagement and create some FOMO for the fans at home.

Scratch & Win

Let’s face it, fans LOVE to win things in your stadium. Nothing beats a baseball giveaway in your ballpark.

You can hand them sponsor offers on game day, but a prize won feels so much better than a prize given.

Enter Scratch & Win. A simple but exciting game that turns coupons into excitement much like a lottery scratch-off does.

scratch and win sports activation

Fans open their digital scratch & win to receive digital cards to,  yep you guessed it, scratch with their fingers to reveal team and sponsor prizes.

You can add in bobbleheads, signed apparel, cash to use in the stadium, and sponsor offers for them to redeem as they head home. Each fan receives their offer via email for easy redemption in the ballpark or at your sponsor’s location.

Have an opening in the 4th inning that you need to fill? Put a QR code up on your scoreboard and watch as fans rush to scratch their way to great prizes.

Moment of the Game Photo Challenge

Sometimes the best content comes directly from the fans on game day.

Have fans take photos throughout the night on their phones of their angle of the field, a play, and even the food they have. Add a social media tag of #[teamname]momentofthegame.

At the end of the night, have your sponsor pick one of the photos to feature in-stadium and on social media post-game. Add a sponsor prize to the winners to make it even more valuable.

Mascot Race

Maybe it’s a hot dog, or a baseball, or even some delicious pierogies! Mascot races have been around since the inception of baseball.

Fans watch as mascots (really your interns in mascot suits) race around your warning track as fans cheer on their favorite character. Mascot Races help build a connection with your team, sometimes it is the thing that keeps them coming back each game.

When you digitize this experience, you can 10x the value of the in-game promotion. As with hat shuffle, when you give fans the ability to choose which character will win before the race you bring participation into the experience which bonds them closer to the promotion.

When fans can pick their favorite character you set up a situation where they start to fall in love with a particular one. They are more bought into whether they win or lose.

With our Race activation, fans can select the character they think will win before the race begins right on their phone. From there, they watch on and cheer with more conviction than ever.

mascot race sports activation

If their pick is correct, they can win a sponsor or team prize that is sent right to their email for easy redemption.

This is a fan favorite for both major and minor league baseball promotions and a must if you want to electrify your crowd on game day.

Foul Pole

A great way to keep fans engaged throughout the game comes with those yellow poles that decide if there is a home run celebration or a groan from the crowd.

Before the game starts have fans comment on a social media post with #RightPole or #LeftPole. If in the game a baseball hits the foul pole, one lucky fan will go home with a great prize.

Tag the sponsor on the post for even more sponsor value.

Digital In-Game Promotions Help You Close More Sponsorships

Not only are these activations great for engaging fans, but they are also great for upselling sponsors.

Today, sponsors don’t want to just “be seen” by fans. They want to connect with them in meaningful and measurable ways. No longer is an outfield sign sufficient enough to close the big sponsorship deals.

Digital In-Game Promotions help your sponsors do more than being seen. They drive fan participation, which in turn increases recall, builds brand affinity, and can show measurable returns far better than your sign and scoreboard reads.

If you have a sponsor on the fence, look to add more digital in-game promotions like the above into their packages and watch as they increase their investment and spending with your team.

 

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Do a Sports Sponsorship Pitch

You’ve done it. You got the meeting for that perfect sports sponsorship prospect. The meeting is set. You and your team are prepping for the pitch and have the format ready to go.

But you ask yourself: Is this what they want to see? Is this the pitch that will seal the deal?

How can I know this will land us the deal?

This week, Rich & I dove into 5 questions you should ask yourself before you make a sports sponsorship pitch.

You can listen to the full episode HERE, but I dive into the key takeaways below.

The 5 Questions You Need to Answer Before Pitching

  1. Do you know the wants/needs of the sponsor?
  2. Does my proposal meet my client’s needs?
  3. Am I presenting to the right people?
  4. Is the price appropriate?
  5. If I were them, would I buy?

Respect in business is a two way street. You need a clear picture of the company’s wants and needs when creating a proposal. Don’t go straight for the gold package if you know the sponsor won’t respond positively. You will work with many possible sponsors and companies that respond best to an audience who listens and is interested in partnering with them to further both businesses.

Avoid wasting time, and form a partnership built on trust and understanding. When you address your sponsor’s needs and support their wants, if everything else lines up, they will figure out the funding for sponsoring events.

Potential Sponsor: Do You Know Their Wants or Needs?

As we’ve always been taught in sales. If there is no need, there will be no sale. Our packages always should have a foundation around what the prospect’s needs are.

But there is an important distinction here that Rich brings up, is what you are solving a need or a want?

A want is something that is nice to have. It isn’t vital to their direct company goals at the moment, but it will be nice to have.

A need is something that ties into their most burning business goal. This directly affects the success of the company that year.

An example here comes with hospitality assets. Our tickets, our suites, etc. Hospitality is perfect for company morale and desired workplace when it comes to employees.

sponsorship banners on a blue screen

Hospitality sponsorships would be perfect if a sponsor stated they were looking to expand their workforce in the city. Or maybe a sponsor who wanted to uphold the morale of their employees.

If they came to you and said instead that promoting their community campaigns was important. Now hospitality takes a whole new meaning. You could take the suite and show how they can offer it as a raffle for each fan that donates to the charity.

If you came to the company pitching hospitality as a company morale aspect to the sponsor looking to increase their community campaigns…you are fitting a want, not a need. There is the wrong fit and therefore no urgency to purchase.

Knowing the difference between the sponsor’s wants and needs is vital. It comes with asking questions and digging deep into what they need and what their goals are for this year.

This means getting a bit uncomfortable with them. You have to ask a bit more revealing questions.

My go-to question is “What are your company’s biggest and most important goals this year?”. If we ask this question over our usual “What are you looking to accomplish with our sponsorship?”, we get down to the bottom of their company’s needs.

From there, we can truly understand what assets will lead us to a YES.

So the first question you should ask yourself when reviewing your sports sponsorship pitch is, do we even know what their wants or needs are, and can we focus on the needs?

When you look over your pitch, be sure to look at each aspect and ask yourself “Is this a want or need for the sponsor?”. The more assets solve a need, the more likely you are to close the sale. It’s also a sign of professional respect that you value their time and listen to their needs.

Pinpoint this and you will win.

Do My Sports Sponsorship Proposals Meet My Client’s Needs?

Now that you can pinpoint the needs, the next question may be obvious. But it is important.

Sometimes once we know those needs, we still build sponsorship packages that fit our needs as an organization. I see it too often in sports.

Maybe we have a new LED sign, and our team has a mandate to sell inventory on it. We can’t add unless it helps solve the sponsor’s needs.

Why? Because for every item in your sponsorship proposal letter that doesn’t fit their needs, you bring down the certainty that this will help them be successful as a company.

As you give your pitch, each asset should bring a head nod and “yes” from your prospect. This is a straight line between certainty and a purchase. The more certainty you build, the more likely you are to get to a YES.

When you add in auxiliary items that don’t fit those needs, you start to bring down certainty. You start to bring the question into your prospect’s mind: “Are they selling me something that can help my company, or are they just looking for revenue and a commission?”

As soon as this happens, you start to lose the sale. 

So when looking over your sports sponsorship pitch, you have to think to yourself, “Does this help the sponsor need?”. If it doesn’t, cut it.

Be brutally honest here. Don’t look at the short-term revenue here, look at the needs of your sponsors. If you can do that, you will open even more revenue in the long run (and short term).

Am I Presenting to the Right People? This Matters.

Who you are presenting to is just as important as what you are presenting.

Why? Because if you pitch hospitality benefits and how it helps employees to the marketing manager…your fit will be off.

Each person in an organization has motivations when it comes to what they invest in. The marketing manager likely cares about getting in front of fans to drive awareness and purchases.

They care about this because it is what they are in charge of. It is how they are judged from a work perspective.

man and woman looking over a sports sponsorship plan at a stadium

If the need comes out of employee growth, you have to have the HR manager there for the pitch. If you don’t, your pitch won’t land as well. In a world crammed with advertising outlets vying for that marketing investment, we want to ensure that we are setting ourselves up for the best possible outcome.

This also helps us build champions within the organization. If you get the marketing manager and the HR manager excited about the deal…you have 2 champions pitching now instead of just one. The more champions you have, the more buy-in (and access to budget) you will have.

When looking over your sports sponsorship pitch, ask yourself…do you have the right people in the room for the assets you are pitching? If not, ask if a representative from another department can join.

Am I Pricing This Opportunity Appropriately Given the Value I Am Providing?

This is a vital part of this review process that gets overlooked.You likely already have a price point in mind.

Is that price appropriate, given the value you are providing?

Why must you do this? Well, your sponsor is doing this calculation in their head as you pitch. If your number is too high, you are losing certainty with the prospect.

So how can you get a gauge on what is too high? There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to look at the current market in digital advertising.

Based on industry, you can find the cost per click, cost per view, and cost per lead averages. This is what a company would spend on average to gain views, clicks, or leads if they spent on say Google or Facebook ads.

If you are pretty sure that an entry-to-win campaign will get around 2,000 sign-ups based on past results, your sponsor will instantly put the average cost per lead calculation into their heads when evaluating your proposal. They will compare it to other forms of advertising and evaluate whether the higher cost is worth it.

Does this mean you should only go off that number? No. What this means is that if you charge a higher rate than the industry standard, you better communicate why your proposal will pull in that high of an investment.

In your pitch, you have to show, for example, why your leads are more powerful than those collected from Facebook ads. Why a view in your stadium is worth more than one on social media.

We dove into a few reasons why sports are more valuable than other forms of advertising. This is a great starting point to prove the value.

On the reverse side, you also don’t want to underestimate the price. I see this happen a lot with teams where they underprice their assets, especially with digital ads.

To help on this front, we’ve created a Sports Sponsorship Calculator for teams to use to see if they are underpricing their digital assets. These numbers are directly pulled from averages that influencers pull in per post. If a 17-year-old influencer can command that price…your sports team can as well.

There is a goldilocks type happy medium here with this step in the process. If you charge over industry standards and don’t give a good reason, you will lose the certainty in your proposal. 

If you charge too little, you will leave dollars on the table, and worse, devalue your assets.

This is a vital step in understanding if your sports sponsorship pitch will land. It always comes down to the dollars. The more you can make the numbers make sense, the better chance you have to land the deal.

If I Was in Their Position, Would I Buy This?

This is the last test. You’ve looked at price, needs, who is in the meeting, etc. It then comes down to the last question.

Would I buy this if I was in their position?

digital advertising in an indoor stadium

How to Formulate a Successful Sports Sponsorship Proposal

It’s good to have confidence in your proposals, but you’ll need to dive deeper into your sponsor’s mindset. You have to actually get into their shoes.

When I sold restaurant ads for a travel company, this was the biggest shift in how I sold. At first, I would look at the number of travelers they would reach and think “Of course! Yes, it is the best proposal for them!” It was my job to have confidence in my product.

But then I had someone who owned a restaurant look at my proposal. This was a friend of mine, so there was no pressure to sell, as she had her restaurant outside the state I was selling in.

The way she put it changed the way I look at selling. She brought empathy into my selling. She understood how the restaurant views it.

When I sold, I focused on the number of views. The number of travelers who would see the ads.

Restaurants don’t care about views for the most part. For the most part, restaurants care about purchases. They ask “how many meals will this help me sell?” 

Why are these sales most important? Well, as my friend put it:

“When a restaurant buys a $5,000 ad package that comes out of their kid’s soccer cleats fund, it may be a whole year of daycare or car insurance. The money we put into this is money we can’t put elsewhere, many times with smaller restaurants it affects our personal lives.”

“So if you are pitching me on a $5,000 package, you better show me that I won’t regret this when it comes time for me to pay my kid’s daycare bill.”

This totally changed how I looked at the proposals I sold and how I sold them. It turned it into a focus on sales. Did I know the best tactics to ensure that this proposal leads to sales?

This empathy led me to find that if we put the food item in a picture over the “ambiance” of the place, it tripled visits. It led me to do the calculation for them. Based on the average price of their food items on their menu, it would only take 3 visits a month to cover the cost of the ad.

I answered their biggest fears with the closest I could get to certainty. I was able to do this because I started asking myself, “If I was at a restaurant, would I buy this?”. Is the pitch I am giving addressing their biggest fears about signing on with our ad inventory?

This empathy is powerful and forces us to truly understand our customers so we can serve them better.

So when you look over your package and sports sponsorship pitch, ask yourself…would I buy this? Given the business I run and the needs conveyed…would I buy this package?

Build These 5 Questions Into Your Sponsorship Opportunities Review Process 

You have your 5 questions, now it is time to build this into your pitch review process. Before any pitch goes out, you should look at these 5 and answer them all.

This is your fail-safe for missing something. Sometimes we get so caught up in building the pitch and assets that we get too close to the solution, not our customer’s problem.

This will help you break through that, take a step back, and refine it into the best pitch.

You have to become unromantic about what is on your pitch and what your team needs in terms of revenue. If you go in with that mindset, you lose the ability to close the deal.

These five questions put your client’s needs first, and ensure your sports sponsorship pitch does as well. Build it into your process, and you will close more sponsorship sales.

 

Gaining Interest from Brands That Don’t Spend on Sports Sponsorship

Some brands just don’t spend on sports sponsorships. Never have…some say they never will. There are categories that we can usually count on to spend on sports sponsorships. Auto, Banks, Insurance, etc. Most of the time they are already spending there.

Conventional wisdom says go after the brands that have already invested in these partnerships. If you know they are spending there…you know that they most likely will be interested in the package that you offer.

But should we just write off the brands that have never invested in sports partnerships? 

No. These are opportunities for new revenue at very little competition. We should always be looking for areas of growth in our industry.

The next question becomes, how can we convince them that investing in sports partnerships is worth their advertising dollars?

In this episode of The Inches Podcast, we dive into how you can convince a brand or company that has never spent a dime in sports partnerships to spend with your team.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I dive into the key points below.

First, understand what they currently spend on

Before we look at what we pitch to brands, it is always important to understand what they currently spend on. This will let us know vital information before we go in.

First, where they spend their money tells us a lot about the mediums they are comfortable with. For example, if we see they are spending their advertising money on newspaper or radio ads…we can understand that our radio broadcast ads for game time will be a great fit for them.

If they spend on Facebook ads, we can know that they will want to see digital options like promoted Facebook posts.

If we can understand the medium in which they are most comfortable…we make it easier for them to say yes by adding assets that they have already said yes to on other mediums.

The second part of this research comes with looking at the content of the ads they produce. What is the messaging? What call to action do they make?

This step will help us understand their most important goals. Brands tell us what they are looking to achieve through the ads they run.

Maybe there is a bank that has never spent within sports sponsorships that are running radio ads with messaging around setting your kids up with a college savings account. This tells us that reaching families is important to them.

When we create our pitch, we should be adding options around how they can reach our fans that have kids.

What a brand is currently running tells us a lot about its goals & company. Once we have that foundation, we can start to look at ways we can offer a more effective option through our sports sponsorship assets.

Push the passion that fans have and how sports sponsorship assets grab that passion

Now that we know what a brand is spending on, we can start to weave in our superpowers in sports to start to convince them that our option is better.

The first superpower we have in sports is the passion we can leverage from our fans. We must ask our new potential sponsors what they are currently doing to tap into people’s passion.

You see, a newspaper ad is informative. A radio ad is the same way. Even digital ads make it hard to tap into a consumer’s passion.

But our assets bring exciting stories, nostalgia, and pull-out passion from our fans.

When we look to answer the question “why should I spend my dollars with your team”, fan passion should be the unique selling point we bring out.

You see, passion moves people to purchase. A win puts them into a passionate high of euphoria, which also leads to more sales.

Humans are ​​driven by feelings. Emotions are what lead to sales and brand loyalty. The easiest way to tie your brand with these emotions is through advertising that drives passion.

Sports are the quickest way to drive into a passion.

Focusing on this and comparing it to the current ads they spend on, you will be able to show a more efficient and powerful tool they can invest in…your sports sponsorship assets.

Showcase the power live sports has on our attention

Once you’ve shown the passion, the next step is to dive into the power that live sports has on attention.

In today’s world, it is hard to capture attention. We see around 10,000 ads per day as humans. This causes us to tune most of them out, making most vessels of advertising ineffective.

Ineffective advertising leads to the need to spend more dollars with half the results. Brands go crazy trying to solve this problem.

This is where the power of live sports comes in. There are few areas today that capture human attention like live games.

For example, streaming and TV ads on non-sports programming today are easy to skip over or ignore. Some platforms even allow for adblocking.

But with sports, our audience is captivated. Few will change the channel, most are zoned into the game…not wanting to miss a second of the action.

Fans won’t change the channel for 3 hours in most cases.

But this isn’t just earmarked for streaming…most of the time on the radio when ads come on the user switches the channel. But for sports, they won’t. They’ll listen to every radio ad until the game is over.

This is powerful because it brings efficiency. The format of our live games holds attention longer than other ad platforms.

When getting a brand to spend on sports sponsorship for the first time…this will be a powerful point to touch on when convincing them to spend dollars with our team.

Dive into the power of fan loyalty in sports sponsorship

Last but not least, fans are loyal to the brands that sponsor their favorite sports team.

Sports fans are 80% more likely to buy brand products that sponsor their favorite sports teams.

Read that stat again. Fan passion is an insanely powerful tool to drive sales and loyalty. This is probably our biggest value add as a sports team. 

What this statistic is really pushing is efficiency. As I spoke about before, brands are looking for the most efficient way to reach their consumers. They are looking for ways to drive sales and build loyalty in the most efficient way possible.

Our fan loyalty brings them that efficiency. This should be the icing on the cake when it comes to convincing brands who have never spent with sports partnerships to spend with your team.

Compare the above sports sponsorship attributes to the current advertising they spend on

The key to convincing anyone to switch what they have done comes with breaking a habit. Most of the time, brands get into a habit of spending on a certain advertising medium.

As I said above, we have to convince them that spending on our package will be better than what they have done for years. 

When you do, focus on the efficiency that your packages bring to their brand compared to the past spending habits. The three items above are key in showing our efficiency.

Build outreach to new brands into your sales strategy

How much time and effort should you be spending on prospects that have never spent with sports teams?

It’s more than you think. Rich builds in about 20% of his new prospect efforts into these brands.

The biggest thing here comes with opportunity. Most teams will see them as prospects that aren’t worth their time. If they haven’t spent on sports sponsorships…why would they try now?

When most pass up the opportunity, we can benefit from it.

Should you be spending most of your time there for new business? No. As Rich says, why did the robber rob the bank? It’s because that’s where the money is.

But you also don’t want to just focus on the money everyone is going after either. If you do, you risk being the last dog at the food bowl.

Look for new opportunities and businesses to go after who have never spent on sports sponsorships. It may take a bit more convincing…but if you focus on the above tactics you should be able to get the meeting.

Using Digital Scratch-Off Games In Sports To Increase Sponsorship Revenue 

Digital scratch-off games in sports are becoming more popular. It’s not surprising, because we are entering the participation age of sports sponsorships. Sponsors no longer want to just “Be Seen” by your fans. 

The odd inventory that included stadium signs and scoreboard reads won’t cut it today if your sports team wants to drive new revenue from sponsors.

Today, sponsors want to connect with your fans in meaningful and memorable ways. With this need, it’s vital to have an arsenal of digital activations that can help your sponsors complete this goal.

Digital scratch-off games are the perfect tool to reach this goal for sponsors. The excitement of revealing your prize or sponsor coupon with the swipe of a finger brings instant engagement with fans and measurability to your sponsors.

I’ll dive in below on what a digital scratch-off game is all about and how you can leverage it to drive more sponsorship revenue for your sports team.

What is a digital scratch-off game?

We’ve all seen or played the lottery version of a scratch-off. There is mystery, excitement, and fun in every card that you buy.

Traditionally, paper scratch-off cards have prizes or money amounts printed on cards with scratchable material on top. Players can use their fingers, a coin, or other sturdy objects to scratch the top material off to reveal what they have won.

Every card purchased is an exciting mystery. You buy them in hopes that you’ve won the big money or a prize.

Digital scratch-off games bring the same excitement of a paper scratch card right to the fan’s phone and tie it to your team or sponsor prizes. Instead of cash, they can win a big sponsor discount, a player meet & greet, or even a signed jersey.

With the addition of smartphones and the ability to track where your finger “taps” the phone, we are able to digitize the scratch-off experience. No more cards to throw away…no more scratching material that gets all over your clothes or under your fingernails.

How they work

With the digital version of scratch-off cards, fans easily access it by clicking a link they see on a website or social media or scanning a QR code on a scoreboard or printed item.

Fans register by simply entering their email address (and other information if needed). Once registered, they receive a digital card that pops on the screen.

From there, they gently swipe their finger across the digital card to wipe away the top layer and reveal their prize.

scratch and win digital game

Euphoria sets in, confetti falls, and the fan has turned mystery into elation as they confirm their email and watch as the offer is sent directly to their email inbox for easy redemption at the sponsor’s location.

Benefits

Outside of the fact that attention is glued to fans’ phones today, below are a few key benefits to digitizing your scratch-off campaigns.

  • An exciting alternative to handing out paper coupons – Winning your coupon is a much better experience than handing out paper ones to fans. It brings more engagement & excitement. Digital scratch-offs are a perfect alternative to jazz up your coupon campaigns.
  • They’re measurable for sponsors – Measurability is key to driving more sponsorship revenue for your team. By digitizing your scratch-off experience you can show sponsors how many fans played, won, and even provide emails to retarget for more business, all in real-time.
  • Reduce waste & cost by eliminating paper cards – Printing paper scratch-off cards for fans to throw out (or even toss on the floor of your arena) is costly to the environment and your team/sponsor. By digitizing the experience you can save money on printing costs and make sure that prizes end up in the fan’s email inbox…not the landfill.

How digital scratch offs are used at sporting events

At SQWAD, we’ve launched digital scratch-offs with over 30 teams of all sizes ranging from Minor League Baseball to NFL teams. They are a great way to bring new and exciting inventory to your game day to drive participation.

The first focus is the excitement it creates with fans. Much like a lottery scratch-off, there is a thrill right before you scratch the card. Could I be the one to win the grand prize?! When you compare this to handing out paper coupons, there is a huge benefit to bringing excitement into the experience.

Even if a fan doesn’t win the grand prize, they can still win a sponsor offer. We’ve found that this actually drives up the redemption rate of these sponsor offers by 4X through digitizing the experience. It brings the idea that the fan won the sponsor offer or coupon rather than was given it. Psychologically, it ties us to that offer and brings a need to use it and benefit.

But how can I make sure my fans will play online scratch offs? 

Well, with the emergence of QR codes, we’ve seen the most success with putting a QR code right on the scoreboard for fans to simply scan and watch as the scratch-off website appears on their phone. It’s the simplest way to make sure fans are ready and playing.

QR code on a scratch and win game

The best times to run a digital scratch-off promotion (also known as online scratch offs) are the breaks in your game. Say a TV time out, or in between quarters. This is when fans do one very vital thing…they pull out their phones and play the online scratch cards.

With a virtual scratch-off, you can grab that attention back and channel it to your team promotion and sponsor. 

Not looking to promote it in your stadium? Not a problem. Only 10% of your total social following will ever walk through your stadium anyways. To reach your full fanbase with this exciting promotion you can simply post the digital scratch-off on your various social media outlets for fans to play.

This opens the exciting experience up to ALL your fans and not just the select few that walk through your doors.

How they have the potential to increase sponsorship revenue if used correctly

Anytime you can grab fan attention, connect it to your sponsor, and steer them to purchase with your sponsor…it will be something that every one of your corporate sponsors will want to take advantage of and purchase.

When your sponsors come to you with goals of driving traffic to their store and building an audience, a digital scratch-off game is a perfect vessel to help them reach both.

Use opt in form template to capture audience

Traditionally, handing out coupons was the number one way to go to try and drive value. This meant having to print thousands of paper coupons that eventually ended up on the floor of your stadium.

The consequence of this is you have fewer sponsor coupons & offers coming through the door to drive value and revenue.

Having a digital scratch-off game changes all of that. Fans play on their phone and when they win the offer or coupon is sent directly to their email inbox for email redemption.

What this means for your sponsor are more redemptions and sales. In turn, the more value you bring them, the more they are willing to spend as they are seeing the return on investment walk through their doors.

In short, having a digital scratch-off game helps your sponsor reach their goal (more traffic to their store) efficiently. This is why sponsors love digital promotions.

How SQWAD can help sponsors use scratch off games to increase revenue

At SQWAD, we’ve mastered the digital scratch-off games experience to ensure that your team and sponsors reach their goals of driving foot traffic while creating a great connection with your fans.

3 phones with digital scratch off activations

Our digital game is fully customizable so you can brand it around your team and sponsor for a fully immersive experience. Easily add prizes and you can even set up unique coupon codes to make tracking a breeze. Customize your digital scratch card games online.

The best part, you can set up scratch card games in less than a day.

With our digital scratch-off game, we can help your sponsors get your fans from the stadium seats to their storefront with the scratch of a finger. Transfer audience engagement into loyal customers with popular games and personalized content.

Our digital scratch-off game has a 74% email open rate on the offers sent with 56% of them being redeemed in the store. This equates to new customers enjoying customer rewards from online scratch games.

Better yet, it can help your team & sponsor build their audience. Of the fans who play our basic scratch-off game, 63% of them will opt-in to receive more promotional information from the sponsor & team, allowing you to reach the fan long after the game ends.

We’ve helped dozens of sports teams reach this goal for their sponsors, sending out over 2.8 million sponsor offers last year alone.

That added value has helped our clients as much as 3X their sponsorship revenue with a client. This shows the huge value of virtual scratch off tickets. A win-win for everyone involved.

Online scratch games reap rewards

Gone are the days of paper coupons. They’re costly to print, are a hassle to house, and when it comes to the redemption rates you can pretty much throw them in the garbage.

By digitizing players’ experience you bring value and efficiency to the main goal of sending out offers, getting them to drive fans to your sponsor’s storefront (or website).

More than the efficiency, it brings new excitement to your fans. The thrill of winning a big prize will only bring your fans closer to your team and sponsor…creating a bond that will help drive relationships and purchases, like with the fan below.

scratch and win winner with tshirt

If you’re still handing out those pesky paper coupons & offers that end up littering the floor of your stadiums, take a look at how a digital scratch-off games (like we provide at SQWAD) can help you save money, enthrall fans, and drive more sponsorship revenue all at the same time.

Let SQWAD show you how your team can maximize your sponsorship revenue with our digital scratch-off activation.

Contact us for a free demo.

 

The Difference Between Sports Sponsorship and Advertising

his is a debate that comes up constantly if you are in the sports sponsorship industry. 

Sports teams will share how sponsorship is more than advertising. They will push the fanatical fans that the brand should want to get in front of and how the environment of their stadium on game day is unbeatable.

But I think there is a misunderstanding in how we think about each. We tend to separate them. 

We try our hardest in sponsorship to push away from being labeled as an “advertising platform”. Many times it is because we feel like we are competing with the others out there like Google or Facebook ads.

But in reality, both have the same goal. To help our partners reach their goals (usually to sell more products or earn more customers).

Today, I want to dive into both and show you how your team can take a different approach to close more deals with your brand sponsors.

To do that, let’s look at the superpowers of each platform.

Sports sponsorship, or partnerships, has a superpower of Goodwill.

As I mentioned before, the big advantage we have in sports is the excitement we create through our games and the loyalty it builds with fans.

There are some fanbases that have a following that rivals religions. The wins (and losses) affect most fans’ moods the next day. It affects the type of week we have as diehard fans.

This is taken all the way to the point of detriment to our society. A study showed that in Philadelphia judges gave out harsher sentences on the days after the local sports team loses. 

Could you imagine getting an extra 2 years on your sentence because the Eagles lost?

This fanaticism is our superpower. It is our unique selling point. When you compare it to other ways of reaching customers, it is what makes our assets so popular with brands.

As the CEO of IPG360 Matt Wiener so beautifully put it “The essence of a partnership is that you are able to borrow equity, awareness, or the power of a brand to attach to your brand”

This is what we are selling. The ability to put a partner’s brand next to ours and let them borrow some of that goodwill. That excitement. 

Many times, though, it can also be our downfall. If we live and die with the goodwill of the team, we can watch it fall as losing seasons come upon us. Sometimes in sponsorship, I think we rely too heavily on this goodwill. 

It also causes us to be lazy in our creativity of assets. Many times because we push the goodwill point so much, we actually end up selling signage to a local pizza joint that has a goal of driving traffic. 

That sign is not the best use of their advertising dollars, but we are good at convincing them that just the presence of that sign with our fans will help sell more pizzas.

And maybe it will, but most of the time we don’t back that with efficiency & ROI. 

We lean so heavily into the sales pitch of goodwill we have many times forgotten that the real goal of any partnership is to help them drive sales in the most efficient way possible.

This is where advertising has an edge on us.

Advertising puts a focus on efficiency

Advertising over the last 200 years really has focused on one thing; efficiency.

Think back to newspaper advertising. The ability to reach everyone in the community with your message on a Sunday morning.

Then, there were national newspapers. You as a brand could more efficiently reach millions of people across the country.

Then came the radio. No need to print something out, you could now actually talk to your audience. They couldn’t really gloss over it any longer…it was a part of the radio broadcast.

Then TV, we could visually show our products. More efficiently telling our product story in between our favorite movies & shows.

Last, the internet came. Through Google ads, we could reach a person as they were searching for a product. On social media, you could reach specific people based on their interests and actions.

What advertising has a leg up on sports sponsorship is efficiency. The majority of our most expensive assets are signage. Literally, a sign in our stadium is no more efficient than what you see on the side of the highway and ignore.

Signage is a massively inefficient form of advertising. We can’t track it. Our only hope is that the fan remembers the brand sign when they are at the supermarket and pick that product. We can maybe track that a few years later…but in today’s age of real-time analytics that won’t fly.

To make things worse, we litter our game day with these signs and inefficient messages. In fact, a study we did last year found that on average fans will see over 3,000 sponsor messages from the time they walk into the building to the time they walk out.

So even if that sign did grab their attention, it is competing with 3,000 other messages in the fan’s brain. The efficiency here is close to nothing.

When I used to sell sports sponsorships, this drove me absolutely crazy. I was being met with the objection that a sponsor could reach the same fans I was pushing with a $50,000 sign with just $5,000 in Facebook ad spending. 

To a point, they weren’t wrong. The argument back was they couldn’t use our IP. I’ll dive in more on this later, but what they were really asking for was an efficiency that rivaled the other options they had.

The winning hybrid: Influencers

I’ve written before on this, but influencers are where we want to be as a team. They have mastered goodwill and efficiency in advertising.

Yup, I said it. We should look to 15-year-olds on Tik Tok for inspiration.

If you look at influencers they have built up a lot of the same goodwill we have. Maybe not on the same scale we have…but they have built up a large following of people passionate about their lives or content in their audience.

The difference, they have figured out a way to efficiently prove ROI for brands that spend on them.

For example, many times they add an affiliate link into their posting about buying a product that they promote. Instantly brands can see the sales come in. At the very least they can track the traffic it drives to their store.

And as we talk about efficiency, think about the path to purchase compared to our signs. With an affiliate link, it’s one click right on the phones that they are viewing the content. 

With a sign, we are banking on the fan remembering a brand message sometimes days after they see it when they walk into the store.

There are many more ways for a fan to drop off before they buy with our signs. There is little chance with a link click that takes you right to the product’s page.

The value of this efficiency has never been clearer to me than when I created our Sponsorship Price Calculator and shared it with teams.

On the calculator, you can type in your social media following as a team and it will show you how much you should be charging per post. I’ve based the rate on what current influencers make per post on average (an average from micro-influencers to major ones).

Teams would see the number the calculator generated and hit me with the same response. “There is no way I can charge this much for a Facebook post. No brand would pay that much.”

This response startled me for one major reason. The calculator isn’t spitting out a number for what brands SHOULD be paying you…it shows what brands, on average, ARE paying influencers for the same following.

So why won’t brands pay this much to teams and they will for influencers? We have a history of being inefficient with our assets.

When a brand looks at $5,000 per Facebook post on your package, they think back to how efficient it could be and think back to how efficient the sign they bought last season was.

Those numbers were probably low…so they equate that efficiency with your Facebook post. You have set a low anchor that you won’t be able to dig out of.

Unless you can show some real efficiency numbers to counteract the results with your signs.

This is the moment that I realized we in sports sponsorship do not have the problem of living and dying by the value that goodwill brings. 

We have an efficiency problem.

No matter the goodwill we’ve built up, we’ve sold inefficient advertising products for so long that the stench of it was bleeding into the assets that actually would bring efficiency to the plate.

So, here is how we break through this.

Today, we must fuse the goodwill of sports sponsorship with the efficiency of advertising.

I mentioned above my struggle when I sold sports sponsorships. I was asked many times how the $50,000 sign would ever outperform a $5,000 Facebook ad targeted at my fans.

As I mentioned, my response always came back to IP. Without our team logo, you wouldn’t be able to reach that fan as well as we could.

This point was true, but the desired outcome was off. My desired outcome was to sell the $50,000 despite the objection. Sometimes I did…many times I couldn’t.

But what I missed, and what I think many of us miss in sports sponsorships, is I wasn’t listening to what my customer wanted.

Of course, they believed in the goodwill the team had. They wouldn’t have taken the call or met otherwise. What I failed to deliver was convincing them that my sports sponsorship package would help them reach their goals the most efficiently.

The sign was not the most efficient way to drive traffic to their store. Despite the big draw we had with our IP & logo, they still felt they had a better shot at reaching customers without it.

What they were really asking for was an option that melded the draw of our IP with the efficiency of Facebook ads.

The holy grail in sponsorship today is fusing the goodwill that our teams have built WITH the efficiency of modern-day advertising.

The conversation that I had almost 8 years ago trying to sell that package still goes on today in sponsorship.

We want to sell a rink board-based package for $250K, but we don’t have the rest of the story for how that asset will efficiently be better than them running social media ads.

The industry has failed on the efficiency side of sports sponsorship, but we can make a change now. We can restructure our assets to make sure it has both efficiency and goodwill.

But what about signs?

I’m not saying get rid of signs.

You can add them to your packages and they will bring value. I always think back to the Duke’s Mayo campaigns in college football. I had never heard of the mayo until I saw the bowl.

But, there has to be a large part of the package where you will prove that you can help reach a fan more efficiently than a social media or Google ad will. If you cannot prove this, you will see a lot of dollars walk out the door.

15-year-olds on Tik Tok have figured this out and are printing money with 1/10th of the resources we have as sports teams.

Our goodwill in this industry has allowed us to innovate slowly. We’ve used it as a crutch to delay the work it takes to stand toe to toe with social media ads and influencers.

At SQWAD, our activations have brought a lot of efficiency and ROI to sponsor packages. Activations like our Portillo’s 4Q Franks with the Chicago Bulls help send over 70,000 hot dog coupons a night to fans via email. 

The results from our activations prove this. Our digital activations have sent over 2.8M sponsor offers in the past year alone, with a 74% open rate on offer emails and an average 56% in-store redemption rate.

When you mix the above with a strong signage package, you are bringing the efficiency that the brand will see if they had taken the money and put it solely into Facebook ads. 

You are giving them a package that is ultimately better than any social media ad campaign they could run. This is because it fuses your team’s goodwill with efficiency.

Over the next decade, it will be the teams that dive fully into fusing their goodwill with an efficiency that will win. It is how the sponsorship industry goes from a $56Bn one to double that over that same time period.

I’m excited about where our industry can go once we do this.