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How to populate content on 7 different digital platforms with one video in sports.

I had a friend say she was starting a video show to post onto Instagram TV. It was long-form and meant to help build her brand up through helpful content.

I asked, “Why just Instagram TV?”

She gave the answer I get a lot from people who are creating content. “I don’t have enough time to create new content for the other platforms.”

There was a whiteboard there…and being an art major I had to draw my thoughts.

After a fury of writing, this is what was left in the chaos.

Although it is sloppy, this is the blueprint to how you can easily create content for 6 different channels with one video.

Today I’m going to take you through how you can utilize this to become a content machine, build a new audience on platforms you’ve never been on, and spend half the time you think to pull it off.

First, we need to understand what to wear to each party (social platform)

The way I think about the different social media platforms is the same way I think about dress codes.

If you fail to grow a following on a channel it’s because you wore cut-off Jorts to a black-tie affair. In order to succeed on which content will work on each platform, we need to understand the proper dress code for each platform.

This comes from being a consumer at first. Just like the way you knew how to dress at a wedding, you need to see other weddings to really get an idea.

Download a Tik Tok account if you don’t understand it. Look at the Discovery section of Snapchat and the content being made there. Make accounts and consume on them. See how others do it well.

Understand which are better for short-form and long-form content. Understand the nuances of posting. Learn the seriousness of the content on each platform.

Once you know how to dress for the party you can go without looking like a Goober. That is the first step.

Ok, now for the formula. Find (or create) your long-form videos.

These are your Hard Knocks type of in-depth content pieces. The kind we all love to create in sports. Practices, home life, behind-the-scenes game day videos. The goal is to create as many long-form video content pieces as you can.

How long is long-form? It can be as short as 2 minutes and as long as two hours. There are places (dress codes) for both as far as digital platforms go.

For this article, I’ll use one of my favorite sports movies of all time….the Sandlot… as an example (You’re killing me smalls).

Post your long-form videos on YouTube & Facebook Watch

Again looking at the dress code, YouTube is the Black Tie Affair of your long-form content. It is where you post the whole Sandlot movie. Fans will consume the whole movie on YouTube, they are in the mindset to do so.

The next platform to look at for the whole video is Facebook Watch. I love this platform because you can tap into the built-in audience of your Facebook following and when your fans share your video it allows you to reach even more fans.

Overall though, the proper attire for YouTube and Facebook Watch is the whole Sandlot movie.

Take your long-form content and find mini-stories within them.

From here we are finding mini-stories that are compelling throughout the movie. For anyone that has seen the movie, here are my mini-stories:

  • First game (Smalls Meets the Crew)
  • The Sleepover (Smalls learns about the Beast & Smore’s)
  • The Pool Scene ( Squints makes his move on Wendy)
  • The 4th of July night game
  • The match up with the little league team (You mix Wheaties with your Mama’s Toe Jams!)
  • The Fair (Big Chief…the best)
  • Smalls hits the Babe Ruth ball over the fence
  • The Ghost of the Bambino visits (Heros get remembered, but legends never die)
  • Benny the Jet plays Pickle with The Beast
  • Meeting Mr. Mertle & Hercules, the trade
  • Benny in the big leagues stealing home against the Giants to win. Smalls on the call.

Ok…that is 11 separate mini-stories we can put create content with. They will be, say, 5 minutes to 1 minute each and show different aspects of the characters and story.

Take those 11 moments and make them their own video content. That is 11 posts you can create from one long-form video in order to create new content for your team and fans to consume.

But where do they go? This comes back to the dress code.

For 1 minute to 5-minute videos you have a few options:

  • Toward the 5-minute end: Facebook post & IGTV
  • Closer to 2 minutes & below: Instagram wall & Twitter

These are the proper dress codes for these platforms. People will consume longer videos on these outlets but not as long as they would for YouTube & FB Watch.

Also, you need to look at the content of each to read the dress code. Today, Facebook is a bit of an older crowd (sorry) so content needs to be a bit more mature. Instagram is a bit younger so you can push onto the more playful or immature side.

For the sake of the Sandlot reference: Squints telling the Beast story…probably will do better on Facebook. Squints tricking Wendy into kissing him…probably on the Instagram side.

Ok, maybe a bad reference so here is a sports one: Inside look at how the front office manages the team & business side…better for Facebook. Players having fun at practice…more on the Instagram side.

I’m not saying you can’t post the front office items on Instagram. I just wouldn’t go as heavy there with it as I would on FB. Again read the room and dress your content accordingly.

Link this back to the long-form video on YouTube

Don’t forget to guide your fans back to the whole movie…or long-form content on YouTube. These are snippets to the whole story that your fans want to see and a great advertisement for your YouTube channel.

This is the secret to building up your following on YouTube. Utilize the following you have on other platforms and incentivize through content in the long-form on YouTube.

But wait, there are mini-stories within mini-stories

This is the level where I think most people get hung up. We are now in the short form, meaning 5 to 60-second stories we can tell.

These won’t do particularly well on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram wall.

Of course, you absolutely can post a 5-second video on Facebook and Instagram wall. They are well dressed for both. But that would be like making Lamar Jackson play Wide Reciever, you’d lose its potential.

Let’s take the scene where Benny and the Beast play pickle. The first scene of that whole chase has them staring each other down, tuned to a western-sounding song.

That within itself is a piece of video content that would be perfect for the short form mediums. There are about 10 within that one scene that you can break down into shorter form videos.

These shorter form pieces of content are perfect for Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories. You can create a ton of clips to keep fans engaged on these platforms.

Of course, again, you have to dress it up for the medium. Adding overlays is great for Snapchat and adding text is great for Tik Tok, and most of these are made for vertical orientation. Study these forms and you will see what is great content that fits the platform.

DO NOT try and jam video styles that don’t fit into the platform. Fans will notice and you won’t get the traction you are looking for. This is like showing up to the prom in a Canadian Tuxedo….few can pull it off.

Don’t forget the character storylines

In addition to this, there are side stories you can create from the overall long-form videos. You can tell the story from a different aspect.

An example of this using the Sandlot analogy would be a compilation of all the time Ham says “You’re Killing Me Smalls”. Or all the times Yeah-Yeah says “yeah yeah”.

You can set up content, not in chronological order, to create new content. A breakdown of a player’s dunks in a game. Best sacks of the night. These are both alternate contents that you can create to make more long-form & short-form video content.

Don’t forget, short-form content leads back to the long-form

Again, don’t forget to link the short-form back to the long-form. On Snapchat & Instagram Stories this means utilizing the swipe-up feature that opens a link to your YouTube Channel.

One Snapchat channel that does this really well is the Hot Ones account. They take what is a 30-minute long-form YouTube video and cut it up into the best parts of the episode. They then post those cut-ups on Snapchat and link them back to the YouTube episode.

This drives a new customer segment to their videos. We should be looking to do the same with our content. Don’t forget to create an ecosystem that links back to the long-form content.

Do this for every single long-form piece of content you have

You should be doing this for every piece of long-form video you have. The remarkable part of this is it makes content creation so easy.

The first step in filming is to capture the whole story. Whether that is a game, training camp, season, or career of a player. Your camera people should be filming to tell a long-form story.

From there you can tell that story in many different ways and create a content machine that feeds and feeds fans of all ages and consumption platforms.

The best compliment I’ve ever heard from someone to a content producer is “Man, your stuff is everywhere. I see you on every platform with a new video every day.”

This should be our goal. In sports, we want to capture every fan we can, at all age levels, to make them fanatics.

And really there is no excuse, given the above formula, to not be on a platform. There is absolutely no excuse to not be creating content on Tik Tok with the above formula as your short-form content can be made from the long-form.

And the big reason is we are in the attention industry. Our goal is to be the most-watched team in the world. The more eyeballs we get means more fans mean more revenue we can drive. We can do it all ourselves if we create content at scale.

What I love about the world today is that there is no reason a minor league organization can’t reach viewer levels that the majors reach.

If you can be on every platform creating as much content as possible you can overtake a major league team in your area.

Unequivocally you can reach their levels with the above formula.

The reason why this is so important is where you can be by following it. You can reach millions of followers as a smaller team if you follow the above formula.

The process is simple. It just takes discipline, endurance, and a bit of creativity. But the time it takes is minimal once you get into the groove.

Today, with this shutdown, it is the perfect time to start building the structure for this formula. There is no better time to take the steps to create this for your team and put the processes in place to keep it consistent.

I hope the above helps spark the journey to making this a process in your team so someone walks up to you and says “I see you all everywhere…how do you do it?”

The sponsorship economics behind the last recession & how we can learn from it.

As I’ve written about before, I was in college during the 08 recession. I wasn’t yet in the professional world & not yet selling sponsorship.

By the time I got into the game, the economy was pretty well recovered and I rode that into one of the longest and best economic eras of our lifetime.

When I chatted with Rich (article above), I dove into the tactics on a micro level that would help you on a one-to-one level with each sponsor.

But I didn’t look at the macro effects on the sponsorship industry. How did overall spending change when the economy took a dive…and how long did it take to recover to the same spending levels?

Well, thanks to the data from iEG we are able to take a look back. I compiled the data together with some opinions and insights on what we may see coming in the future from a macro level in sponsorship.

The numbers below are for North American Sponsorship. Selfishly this is the arena that SQWAD and I play in (for now). If there is interest in a global analysis I’m happy to dive into those as well.

Spending drop in overall sponsorship

So did sponsorship spending drop during the last recession in ‘08?


2005: $8.31Bn

2006: $8.94Bn (📈10.5%)

2007: $9.94Bn (📈 11.5%)

2008: $11.4Bn (📈 11.4%)

Projected at the time 2009 spend $11.6 Bn (📈 1.8%)

Actual 2009 spend: $11.3Bn (-1%📉)

After double-digit growth for the 3 years prior we saw a drop in spending for 2009. On a macro level, the speeding train went backward.

I think we can expect something similar in 2021, and honestly, it will be a bit more severe (I’ll dive into why below).

On the micro-level will this affect you? Well yes. There is less of the pie to go around. With a $100Mn drop in spending, you can imagine that spending was consolidated into bigger properties with larger brand power.

Although I don’t have the data for this (but would love to see it) I would imagine this drop primarily came from smaller market & minor league teams. It could have been even larger than $100Mn as again this money could have been shifted to some of the more well-known properties.

So, what about recovery?

2009 was a tough year…but what about 2010 & 2011? How fast did it recover?

2010: $11.6Bn (2.6%📈)

2011: $12.3Bn (6.2%📈)

2012: $13.5Bn (9.7%📈)

As we can see, it took another year of very slow until we started to really see a jump back up to the levels we were used to before the recession (close to double-digit growth)

Can we expect the same this time in sponsorship? Maybe. But again this is a bit of a different recession period, it has a mix of both health and monetary reasons why sponsors may not invest in our live events.

How this may be different: A Pandemic inflected recession

Here’s the tricky part with this recession is it is coming due to a pandemic that shut our sports down.

Obviously, we won’t see just a -1% decline in 2020. Some sponsors will pull back immensely because we don’t have what they want to buy (games).

Even if we did have them back, not too many sponsors want to double down on events that include many people gathering and being worried about catching something.

But how much will we lose? FOS reports close to $10Bn.

That is a drop of 38%…not including whatever drop comes with a recession.

The tough thing here is we don’t know how fans will react when we get the all-clear. Will they avoid Fan Zones and party decks? Will we see a drop in attendance due to a mix of the post-pandemic scare and a recession?

These are hard to answer…but I think sport still has such a pull that we can still command a high price for our assets.

What we’ll need to do is adapt our assets.

Like any stock, a drop in sponsorship spend is a reaction to confidence in our ability to produce for brands and reach their marketing goals.

Sponsor budgets don’t drop because “budgets are frozen”. Ok, some might…but they are still spending on marketing somewhere.

I think the telling item here will be can we replace what was lost AND offer assets that brands will want to buy in a cash-strapped recession.

How strong are we as an industry to push through something that honestly should have killed us? How fast can we adjust?

I’ll be very interested to see what this actually shakes out to in 2020. It will be very telling about the state of our industry.

Ok, but how did internet spending fare?

If brands don’t spend with us…they will spend elsewhere.

We are constantly compared to digital options in sponsorship…so how did internet advertising revenues do with the recession?

U.S. Internet Advertising Revenue (source IAB):

2008: $23.4 billion (📈10%)

2009: $22.7 billion (📉-3.4%)

2010: $26.0 billion (📈15%)

2011: $31.7 billion (📈22%)

2012: $36.6 billion (📈15%)

Overall, internet advertising saw a drop just as sponsorship did (and it dropped more) but the rebound was much quicker. They saw growth in the double digits in just one year after 2008.

And I expect something similar for digital ads this year and next. Cost Per Click rates are dirt cheap right now, which is an auction platform (price based on how many people are bidding for the audience) and means fewer people are spending on digital ads.

Now I know this might not be the apples to oranges I am portraying here, but this is intriguing to me. Really in 2008 internet ads were fairly young. Facebook was a baby and their powerful ads platform wasn’t even built yet.

If I had to bet we will see the same bounce back, and maybe higher and faster from digital ads.

Why? Because mindset In value has shifted

One interesting thing that has changed here is what sponsors found most valuable in our packages. I think this will play a big role in determining where the dollars that are available will be spent.

Let’s look at what brands thought were most valuable in 2016

The top items come in with exclusivity and on-site signage at #1 & #2. Digital comes in at #6.

Just one year later, we see a much different story…

Digital drives to #2 from #6….on-site signage drops from #6 to #2.

So even BEFORE any issues with on-site signage through the pandemic brands were

And the numbers are telling on digital being the need. In 2018 digital ads in North America pulled in $100Bn in revenue.

Brands are telling us by both how they spend AND directly that they want digital options. To make up ground on the -38% growth we’ll need to adapt and add these into our packages.

I’ve written about this before, but the key here is don’t fight what your brands want to spend on. I don’t care if you have $1M in signage to offload.

If your brand doesn’t want it…you shouldn’t be selling it.

This is the best cheat code we have. This data is key as we build our suite of assets to present. If we want to win…we need digital assets.

The way out: Relevance

How can you be an outlier? I think the silver bullet here will be relevance.

How relevant are your assets to meeting your sponsor’s goals? How good are they at proving ROI?

Money may dry up, but brands still spend money on marketing…they just will spend where they think they will get the largest return.

To be the outlier you have to create a product that is more relevant to those goals than other options. You have to adapt and see the openings.

This means we’ll have to change our assets. More digital, more trackable, more reach, more engagement, more ways to build relevance as to why you should as a brand spend your dollars on my package.

You can do small things to be relevant to your brands. Hyper-localize your offerings, push the reach you have on social, & create new pricing packages.

The ones that innovate during recessions become the winners. They are the outliers.

On the macro-level the above says there will be less money in the pot, what it doesn’t mean is you should expect your revenue to drop. If you can be adaptable…you can win the dollars that others fail to grab.

The graph above should not tell us we should expect to make less money, what it tells me is we have to be scrappier and innovative to win those dollars.

Use the above to inform you that if you follow the same tactics…you’ll lose.

Be the innovator. Be the outlier.

“If I’m going to spend my money with (your team here), what would be on my checklist?”​

Bonus, there is an editable spreadsheet at the end to help you create your own checklist. Read through to the bottom).

Look, it’s been overstated…but you can’t operate the same way you did before the crisis.

For one thing, with the lost inventory of games, we are digging out of a hole to get started. For your team, it could be as high as a 38% loss as sponsors drop out or how much they spend with you.

Then we have what looks like a worse recession than last time in 2008. In that year we only saw a 1% drop in total sponsorship spending…but it took longer to recover back to double-digit growth.

Why do I bring this all up? Money will be the tightest it has ever been in spending with us. If we want to be successful and pull out of this hole, we need to re-evaluate some items.

When thinking about how we jump out of this I couldn’t help but think back to one of my favorite episodes on The Inches podcast: Building a Winning Culture with Mike Johnston.

In that episode, when we asked Mike how he wins recruits and turned around a junior hockey program he gave a tactic that is gold when thinking about your customers and packages.

It came with a simple question:

“If I were a recruit or family member of a recruit, what would be on my checklist?”

Mike has been able to build a program that sees top NHL draft picks every season with a simple question.

So I started to think, how can we implement this into our sponsorship departments? That’s exactly what I do below.

First, let’s break down the simple question Mike asks

A key here to understanding the power of this question and how it can change the culture is understanding the parts that go into it. Let’s break down the fist & second half separately.

The first thing that is key in the first half of the question….the recruit

“If I were a recruit or family member….”

Not if I was on the coaching staff. Not what I as the head coach. Not if I was the team president.

If I were a recruit or family member.

The reason this part is so important is it takes into account the stakeholders from square one. It ensures that you are looking at it from the customer’s viewpoint.

If Mike went in and tried to recruit a kid based on what he the coach wanted…he wouldn’t be getting the recruits he wanted simply because it would be hard to convince them that their goals and aspirations would be met.

The first half of this question helps us focus on our customer segmentation. Whom we are building packages for and understanding their needs. It reminds us that we are here for them, to help them grow, and reach their goals.

This gets us in the mindset to look through their lens. It sets us up for success before we even get tactical.

The second half is the tactical side, “what would be on my checklist?”

After we understand whom we are building for, we can then focus on what they would be interested in.

What would be on their checklist? What items would they need to check off in order to say YES to our packages…or in Mike’s case coming to play hockey for him.

Again this is not what is on you, the sales person’s, checklist. You can’t make this checklist successfully without understanding your customers.

Now, this checklist can change prospect to prospect….but as you make these checklists based on what you hear or know from your customers you will hear some themes that you can build an overall strategy behind.

Okay so how do we pull this to sponsorship sales?

The same way Mike is working to get kids to trust him, his program, and commit to his team…we are doing that with our customers.

This question helps us understand on the micro & macro level what our customers need. In all honesty, it is a cheat sheet. It’s the answers to the test before you take it.

But like any cheat sheet…you need to do some digging to get the answers (more on that later).

Overall, we can shift Mike’s question to fit our needs in sponsorship by asking the below of ourselves, our department, and our packages & assets.

“If I was a brand & were going to spend money with [Your Team Here] in sponsorship, what would be on my checklist?”

Again, our focus first is on our customers. Second, we get into their viewpoint and build a package on their needs over our own.

This forces us to build, sell, and execute on their needs, not ours.

If signage does not help them reach a goal on that checklist…DO NOT SELL THEM SIGNAGE. Don’t even bring it up. It is the wrong answer on the test.

If there is something that repeatedly comes up on this checklist you don’t have, it is time to build it in and give some serious love there.

Again this checklist you will build will be your secret weapon. It will be like coach Kline’s secret playbook that was stolen from him in the Waterboy movie. You can come back to it and

You should be asking this of every sponsor you have currently have in your portfolio AND whom you want to close in the future.

The first step here is to ask this question for EVERY SPONSOR YOU WORK WITH.

What this will do is call out our assumptions. In sales, we lose deals because of assumptions.

Assuming that they have the same needs as last year. Assuming that they want to keep buying signage as a path to awareness. Assuming that budget-wise they still have the funds for on-location vs. digital.

Sponsors leave when you come back with a package that assumes they have the same needs as last year. Sponsors leave when you assume that a campaign worked well but it was not on par with the expectations from the sponsors.

On a macro level, a sponsor also will leave if they don’t see your packages shifting overall with the way that attention is shifting (I’m looking at you digital).

If you ask this of every sponsor you can find where your holes are. You can start to question your assumptions and know where you need to fill those holes in order to truly create offerings that help.

It is a roadmap to success.

But don’t stop there with current partners. The next step is to do this for the companies you are prospecting.

With our prospects, our first goal should always be to understand their needs & goals in sponsorship.

But before we even reach out, we’ll need to have a reason to reach out. We need to do our research to see where we can be relevant to their business &

This is where the checklist begins. If we fill this out we can see what assumptions we have for them. We also can see where we still need to find new information.

Here again, the checklist is letting us know where our holes are in understanding what our potential partners will need. It helps us know what we need to do in order to close our partners.

Using the checklist, as you can see, helps us with our prospects as well to drive new business.

What this does that is most important is forces us to talk to our customers.

What I love about this is it forces us to talk with our customers and ask questions. As you fill this out for the first time you’ll begin to write what you think you know your customer wants.

Then, the second-guessing comes in…’ Do they still want to promote that community initiative? I didn’t even ask the last call..”

This document is a tool to keep us in check and away from our assumptions. It forces us to ask the questions we need as sponsorship salespeople to build a package that helps them reach their marketing goals.

The reason why you should be using this is it keeps you honest when you start to slide back into complacency with assumptions.

This won’t work all the time…but it sets us up for success every time

Sometimes we’ll use this formula and a brand still won’t sign with us. That is part of the business. Even the best baseball players only connect with a hit a little over 1/3rd of the time.

But this is our process. It is how we perfect our swing. It is how we build a system that can be scalable to any industry or client.

The reason why the Patriots, and Mike at the Winterhawks, are always successful is they create processes they can lean on. Those processes may be tweaked…but they always come back to a core.

This is the core you can lean on, and it works because it is customer-focused.

If you only use it some of the time…you won’t see the results you need. If you stop using it after not winning a few deals…I’d argue it’s because you haven’t perfected it to really understand your customer.

Bill Belichick is arguably the best coach in NFL history….but before the Patriots…he had some tough years with the Browns.

The same goes for Nick Saban. Not many remember his under-performing time with the Miami Dolphins.

Heck, Money Ball was a disaster in the beginning. And they didn’t win a championship…but they did with no money what the Yankees did with 10X the payroll. They did it with a process.

It will take some time. This though is the blueprint you can follow. Stick with it.

This checklist is a living document. It is evolving all the time.

I’m 30, and if you asked me what was important to me 5 years ago you would get a totally different answer than today.

This is true as well on the macro and micro level with this checklist.

Sometimes a sponsor will be in a different lifecycle in their business lives. Maybe they doubled the size of their firm and now tickets & hospitality are important. Our list will need to adjust for that.

Sometimes platforms like Tik Tok come out of seemingly nowhere and on a macro side, we need to look at how we can leverage this into our packages as it comes onto our sponsor’s checklist more frequently.

This checklist is never done. It is constantly evolving as we are in the sponsorship world. But it will help us stay on the right path to always be the solution for their marketing plans no matter what comes.

The results of this checklist: Understanding what the sponsor is willing to pay for.

Relevance is everything in sales and driving revenue. The reason is it leads to what the sponsor is willing to pay for in our sponsorship packages.

This checklist is a map to what the sponsor is willing to pay for.

Plain and simple, it shows you where you can increase the price and cost and where you won’t be able to.

An example, if a potential partner comes to you and says the most important thing on the checklist is driving leads for their insurance business.

If you offer back signage in-stadium…you won’t sell the package. There is no relevance toward their goals. Their willingness to pay for signage will most likely be extremely low…honestly non-existent.

This is where you lose the deal, this is where they go ghost on you and don’t respond.

The reason is…we failed to find relevance toward what their goals are. We focus on what we want to sell at a high price instead of what the prospect is willing to pay for.

This checklist tells us what the sponsor is willing to pay for. This way when we build our packages we know that add that is worth money to them.

The list tells us how to maximize our package size. The list lets us meet their needs with every item we add and build a package they will pay for.

The most powerful item this list has is it leads directly to revenue. It is the treasure map to big packages…because it finds exactly what our sponsors need to be successful and we’ll give it to them.

This also drives creativity in your assets to reach innovation.

If I gave you a list of assets you already have in your packages and said go sell them to your sponsors…then you would offer the same ones for each sponsor with very little variation. You put into place a system of offering the same exact items to all sponsors.

The problem with this is we get put into a box of what sports sponsorship is. We try and jam-pack our very rigid assets into the patterns we identify with our clients.

If you give them parts (customer needs) then there is room for many ideas, which opens your department up for new ways to engage, connect, and ultimately engage your sponsors.

This is how you get out of the cycle of offering the same assets that we always have. This is how we take the next step as an industry and focus on the sponsor’s needs to create the asset instead of conforming to what we already have. If we can focus on the destination (sponsors goals) rather than the pattern recognition, then we can shake up the game.

Easy is boring. Our goal in sponsorship should be to push boundaries with every asset we send to our sponsors. We shouldn’t expect it to be easy to reach their goals. We should be looking to wow our sponsors with the activations we create.

This process will bring that out in us. There are no set rules of awareness=signage. If we focus on the client’s needs, we are pulling ourselves out of the constrains to be creative to reach their goals.

A simple question brings the ability to grow with our client’s needs.

Sometimes it is that simple. Sometimes one question can shape our entire department strategy and make it really that simple.

Thanks to Mike Johnston, we have that question.

“If I was a brand & were going to spend money with [Your Team Here] in sponsorship, what would be on my checklist?”

Bonus: I made the worksheet that helps visualize this process

In working on this article I started to realize that you could make this into a worksheet for your organization.

So I built it.

Click HERE to access a Google Sheets document. You can’t edit it…but if you Duplicate it under the “file” tab to the top left you can have your own version.

A gift from me to the sponsorship community that has supported me. I hope it helps.

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Essential vs. Expendable. How you should be thinking about your sponsorship packages

(BONUS: An active worksheet your team can use to game plan your outreach…but first you have to read the article to understand & use it. It will be worth it…I promise)

I’m a fanatic about how to thrive in economic downturns. And what I’ve realized is most of it comes from fear of looking back and saying “Man, I missed that opportunity.”

With this, I had been reading constantly on the dynamics of a downturn in all industries and see how we can shift to our work in sponsorship.

In that research, I came across a great HBR article that looked at the changing purchasing behavior in consumer segments and how brands can adjust their offering to ensure that sales don’t slump.

There was such an alignment with our sponsors and prospects that I edited the process to fit our industry based on their framework. Here is the result (Plus again a worksheet at the end to jam on):

Overall, your sponsors can be broken down into 4 groups of customers

Normally we break our customers into demographics. Food partners, car partners, etc. and build packages that overall encompass all of them.

There is an issue there. Some restaurants make more than others. Some have different goals. Some are franchisees vs. mom & pop.

This article brings a new way to segment our sponsors into four groups: Slam-on-the-breaks, Pained-but-patient, Comfortably well-off, Live for today.


As the article defines the segment:

The slam-on-the-brakes segment feels most vulnerable and hardest hit financially. This group reduces all types of spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, or substituting purchases. Although lower-income consumers typically fall into this segment, anxious higher-income consumers can as well, particularly if health or income circumstances change for the worse.

These are our sponsors hit hardest by the shutdown and will most likely see a slow recovery when we get back. One segment that jumps to the top of my head are most restaurants…others are barbershops and in-person attractions like bowling alleys.

The biggest test on this is are they looking for money back or to break contracts. They will be slamming the breaks on any partnership spend.

Another test…have you seen any digital ads from this partner or category?


Pained-but-patient consumers tend to be resilient and optimistic about the long term but less confident about the prospects for recovery in the near term or their ability to maintain their standard of living. Like slam-on-the-brakes consumers, they economize in all areas, though less aggressively. They constitute the largest segment and include the great majority of households unscathed by unemployment, representing a wide range of income levels. As news gets worse, pained-but-patient consumers increasingly migrate into the slam-on-the-brakes segment.

These are our sponsors that are less affected directly by the shutdown but have the ability to wait it out on their sponsorship packages. They still have a budget to spend…but they are waiting to spend as they think games are coming back.

Auto dealerships come to mind here. Right now they are pained with little to no purchases coming…but if this doesn’t change and they can’t get people back into dealerships that can drop into the Slam-on-the-breaks.

Comfortably well-off

Comfortably well-off consumers feel secure about their ability to ride out current and future bumps in the economy. They consume at near-prerecession levels, though now they tend to be a little more selective (and less conspicuous) about their purchases. The segment consists primarily of people in the top 5% income bracket. It also includes those who are less wealthy but feel confident about the stability of their finances — the comfortably retired, for example, or investors who got out of the market early or had their money in low-risk investments such as CDs.

Here we see the brands that are doubling down on marketing efforts. Notice I said marketing efforts…not sponsorship spend. While they might not be spending with you…you could still see them double down on digital ads.

Generally speaking beer, insurance, and banks come to mind here. Again we don’t want to place a whole industry here as microbrews could be in the Slam-on-the-breaks segment while big brews come into this category as comfortable.


The live-for-today segment carries on as usual and for the most part, remains unconcerned about savings. The consumers in this group respond to the recession mainly by extending their timetables for making major purchases. Typically urban and younger, they are more likely to rent than to own, and they spend on experiences rather than stuff (with the exception of consumer electronics). They’re unlikely to change their consumption behavior unless they become unemployed.

On the sponsorship end, these are the wildcards. Sometimes it’s because they are well-funded startups…sometimes it is because they just had a ton of cash on hand before the shutdown.

As the description says above they will still spend but push the timetable of their big spending.

The next part: Segmenting how they will respond to our packages

So we understand the segments, how can we understand how they will purchase in the new world? Well, this article does a great job of breaking down the purchases & products into a few categories:

Regardless of which group consumers belong to, they prioritize consumption by sorting products and services into four categories:

  • Essentials are necessary for survival or perceived as central to well-being.
  • Treats are indulgences whose immediate purchase is considered justifiable.
  • Postponables are needed or desired items whose purchase can be reasonably put off.
  • Expendables are perceived as unnecessary or unjustifiable.

Again this is based on consumers, but it holds true to our sponsorship categories as well. This is how they will analyze our products in their heads before buying.

How can we know what items fall under these categories? You’ll have to be brutally honest with yourself, ask your sponsors, and do a bit of analyzing what they have purchased in the past.

For example, if a sponsor has always demanded couponing in their packages…most likely that is essential for them.

On the macro-level we can look at what they have said is most valuable as well, as IEG did with the below graph.

I’ll caveat this with the fact that this could be totally upside-down with the pandemic. I would imagine tickets & hospitality have plummeted, access to personalities (think IG Live with players) has skyrocketed. Use this as a hypothesis-building chart…but really challenge these with your conversations with partners.

Again what is expendable to one is essential to another. Really use the knowledge you have on a partner in order to finish this.

From here we can start to chart how each segment will react & behave to our products based on their classification.

From the chart above we can see where we will have success and where we’ll struggle for each partner. As you can see, this will allow us to adjust our sales pushes to set ourselves up for success.

From here we can start to look at what tactics will work for each of these behaviors.

So how do we put this into practice? We can use this to build packages & prices for all segments to maximize revenue.

The second graph the article has created a beautiful map to do just that:

Some of these again we’ll have to adjust based on our industry…but we can get a pretty good idea of where we will have to make adjustments in order to be successful.

For example, even though a slam-on-the-brakes sponsor might find an asset essential…that doesn’t mean they won’t be price sensitive. We’ll need to unbundle our $20,000 packages into a la carte items that may be $500 each. I’m thinking social posts here, charge by the tweet….not the whole season.

Understanding these dynamics could be the make or break to a deal.

Ok, now how do I get tactical?

As the article states:

Begin by performing triage on your brands and products or services. Determine which have poor survival prospects, which may suffer declining sales but can be stabilized, and which are likely to flourish during the recession and afterward.

Each sponsor will be different, each category as well. But the first step will be to categorize each one of your current partners into these customer segments.

Once you do this, you can understand which of your products in the packages you send out will need to be tweaked and which will be fine for the downturn.

Off the top of my head, I’m really looking at signage as a tough sale. For most brands this is an expendable item. Vanity metrics that don’t prove sales that you have to buy all at once.

If you understand that this asset will sell less in the downturn you can either adjust the pricing model or overall understand there will be a drop in sales here so we need to change our sales goals to push more essentials.

By breaking these down, this allows us to understand which products we can push at what price to each segment. This also shows us that we are going to have to get creative with our packages and how we price them.

One important piece in this is don’t forget your core brand when looking at these items. As the article states:

When sales start to decline, companies shouldn’t panic and alter a brand’s fundamental proposition or positioning. For instance, marketers catering to middle- or upper-income consumers in the pained-but-patient segment may be tempted to move down-market. This could confuse and alienate loyal customers; it could also provoke stiff resistance from competitors whose operations are geared to a low-cost strategy and who have intimate knowledge of cost-conscious customers. Marketers that drift away from their established base may attract some new customers in the near term but find themselves in a weaker position when the recession ends. Their best course is to stabilize the brand.

You don’t want to move down the market and start slashing prices. If you can understand the customer segments and their needs you can get more flexible with your prices and packages.

Don’t bring down the price of your packages, but offer alternatives and pieces. You don’t want to drop the value of what you are selling…rather your goal should be to re-structure your assets so they can fit the cash-flow budgets of the

Pepsi did this by offering single cans in supermarkets over the 12 pack. They cost the same…it just gives the Slam on the brakes customers the ability to buy within their budget.

Overall we should be making small but powerful shifts with this information.

We may have to piece together more deals…but you will be able to reach all segments with the packages and therefore have more customers willing to buy.

You are being empathetic toward the sponsor’s situation. You are offering them the ability to still be a part of your influence and reach even if things are tough. This is our goal with this structure.

— — — —

And now….as promised Click HERE for a free spreadsheet worksheet that puts this into a process. You won’t be able to edit it…but if you duplicate it through File-> Make A Copy you can have your own version to work with.

As always my goal is to help sports sponsorship thrive. If we can understand our sponsorship needs better than other options we’ll win. This is hopefully the blueprint your organization needs to offer the perfect products that will sell and be a fit with our sponsors.

Re-thinking your physical booth sponsorship assets for next year

We have no idea what sports will look like when we get back. How will our spaces change? Will the concourse still be a bustling corridor of energy & excitement? Or will it be empty and avoided with social distancing?

The reason why it matters for us in sponsorship? Many of our packages include boothing, tabling, player appearances, and other 1-to-1 assets to help brands connect with our fans.

If we don’t think about this, we have the potential of having to make up tens of thousands of dollars in value.

This week on The Inches Podcast Rich & I dive into how you can re-think your boothing assets to prepare for what our stadiums may look like when games come back.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE. But as always, I dive in more below with some of the key points.

First, you need to think about what that asset was put into your packages to accomplish

It is key here to understand that sponsors do not buy your booth or player appearances. They buy the result that comes from boothing.

As with all assets they are just a

Most of the time it is a one-on-one connection with your fans, an opportunity to introduce themselves and their brand in a large traffic area (your concourse). They want to connect with your fans in an environment that is in line with your team’s game day brand & experience.

The KPI on this? Usually, emails collected or promotions handed out. This is how we can tangibly prove ROI for the package they buy.

If we have to adjust boothing (or even eliminate it) the key part is understanding what boothing represents for your sponsor. Why did they buy it in the first place? What goal were they looking to achieve by purchasing the booth?

If we know this, we can start finding solutions.

Then, you can begin to think about how you can accomplish that with a no-touch experience

Again, we don’t know what the stadium experience will look like when we get back to games. Assumingly…we’ll be looking at no fans at first, then maybe social distancing.

First I’d like to acknowledge that…we don’t know. No one knows how fans will react to games & stadiums opening back up.

Although it is tough to understand how fans will interact with our stadium…I have really enjoyed surveys like these to at least give us a glimpse into where we may have to adjust.

Does this mean if you add a bottle of hand sanitizer to a booth that you will be fine? No. We need to think about systems outside of these to really put people at ease.

What it does mean though is if you highlight the most prominent items on this list (Hand sanitizer & communicating the venue is sanitized) you have a better shot at putting your sponsor and fans at ease.

Alternatively, you really need to think about how that experience looks. With social distancing, you will have a totally different experience there to re-create.

From top to bottom I would map this out. From the time someone walks into your stadium to what it looks like when they see the booth, the interaction, and the KPI (email collection, prize redemption, etc.).

Now, what if a sponsor wants to back out of boothing totally? This is why we first understand why they bought booth space in the first place.

If the answer is “Getting in front of your fans authentically” then you can find a digital alternative. The first that comes to mind is a Zoom happy hour the next morning after the game hosted by the sponsor representative.

How can you replace player appearances? Go live on Instagram with the players and have the sponsor branding there. Tell fans that they can enter for a signed stick at a certain link.

To adjust, we’ll need to think about how this changes it all and how we can re-create their needs to make sure it is fulfilled.

Coupons will have to be re-thought entirely (and made entirely digital)

I think the days of paper coupons are over. And to be honest…good riddance.

Before the shutdown, they were costly to print, house, and clean up when fans would litter the floor with them.

In the current environment…they are an almost immediate no-go. We can’t expect our fans to take them from staff and we definitely won’t want to sanitize each one.

But…our sponsors will still want the benefits of what they bring, which is the ability to drive fans to their stores and make a purchase.

At SQWAD we see this coming and are have our Scratch & Win platform as a solution for it. As Rich brings up we implemented one this past season with Jimmy John’s for the Portland Winterhawks and saw a great surge in redemptions for their offers.

You’ll most likely need to do this with all of the coupon offers you have in your stadiums.

If you have any coupons in your packages you have to look at replacing them with digital ones ASAP.

Overall, we need to look rethink our physical assets and how fans interact with them.

Looking into the next few months we absolutely have to tear down what we knew in the past and re-think all of our physical assets.

We cannot just assume that these assets will be relevant in the new stadium experience. A top to bottom re-design will be necessary to put our fan’s and sponsor’s minds at ease moving forward.

Take a week and think through how you can simulate or replace the need that our sponsors look to fill with a booth on your concourse.

The math behind why brands opt for digital over your traditional sponsorship assets

For all the people who are going to comment with full caps about how traditional ads work and brands have been buying them forever…

You are right. Of course, they work. If they had a success rate of 0 they wouldn’t exist.

So before you throw this article in the trash and blast it, I hope I can shed some light through data that can help.

Do traditional ads work? Yes.

Are they the most cost-efficient way to grow a brand?… Well, let’s let data tell the story below.

First, let’s start with the goal of most marketing departments…leads

Overall, most marketing department’s jobs are to generate leads or purchases, depending on the industry.

Of course, there is branding at the top of the funnel, but mostly you expect that to come back to the leads you can generate.

With that, leads & purchases are how they are judged and tracked on success.

A marketer’s job is to squeeze as many leads, or purchases, out of the marketing budget they are given.

When you think about it, this is amazing. This ultimately becomes a math game. Where can I deploy my assets (dollars in paid media) to get the greatest return for my company?

On the sponsorship side, this simplicity allows us to truly understand where our value is and how we will be judged. This allows us to build assets that help them understand the value we bring them.

So how do traditional assets compare to paid social media assets?

Well, let’s look at some cost-per-lead data.

As you can see from above, the average cost per lead for “traditional” marketing channels is a HUGE range, with an average of $619 per lead.

Why is it so high for an average? Well, you are casting a wide net. Maybe you hit the right people, but most of the time you hit people with an ad for a product they don’t need.

Compare that to the average and range for paid social media advertising.

Compared to “traditional ads, paid social media ads are 13X LOWER in Cost Per Lead.

Why? Brands can essentially shoot fish in a barrel.

We can hyper-target our key customers with messaging we know they will respond to (or at least are the most likely to respond to). This is the money ball of advertising, and brands know it.

I’m not a math guy, but when I say that brands deciding to spend $1M on Facebook ads or your sponsorship packages…they will pick Facebook ads.

The math just makes more sense to spend on social media ads for the most part.

But wait, we don’t just stop there. The third level is retargeting. This is really the money maker for brands that understand the dynamics of digital advertising.

For those who need a refresher, re-targeting ads come into play when you get someone into your funnel (sees your ad) and don’t buy. If they don’t interact the first time you can hit them with follow up ads to get another at-bat to pull them into a purchase.

So what’s the math when we retarget?

As you see the lower end is higher…but if you get this right you can almost cut your high end in half.

If the brand you are pitching to has this process down pat (paid social media ads with retargeting campaigns built-in) you have a very low shot at closing them.

Why? Well, there is a better product out there for collecting leads.

This is why it is so important to go digital with your sponsorship assets. By the math, traditional assets are a bad bet.

Let’s bring Bill Belichick into this equation (whether you like the Patriots & Bill or not…you can’t deny he builds championship teams). Bill Belichick almost never takes a 1st rounder in the NFL draft.

First-round picks are a big risk…but honestly, all picks are a pretty big risk. We’ve seen plenty of players not pan out in the pros for various reasons.

But the risk isn’t the reason why Bill doesn’t take first-rounders…it’s because the cost of that risk is too much. First-rounders, more often than not, are a bad bet for the cost.

So what does he do? He trades out and gets more picks at a better value for the risk.

Has he missed out on some absolute hits doing this? Yes. I am sure he has. But he understands that he can get more chances to find that player that will pan out at a lower cost to the team with this method.

The same is true with social media ads. Smart CMO’s understand that for every 1 lead they get from traditional ads they can get 13 through paid social media.

What’s more, they get that they might miss on the big hits that traditional ads might bring (saw a campaign get’s written about or goes viral)…but they are fine with that because the slow and steady math will win for them in the long run.

Ok, Nick, so why are you bringing this up in sponsorship?

I bring this issue up with a sponsorship lens because as I have said before we are competing with a digital advertisement for brand dollars.

As brand dollars dry up most marketers will go with the safer bet. The best brands will let math dictate how they spend their dollars.

As we look to make up the dollars we lost with the pandemic we cannot keep selling the same traditional assets we always have. That may have worked in times of good economic standing…but it most certainly won’t in modern times.

BUT, in sports, we have passion & emotion. We have excitement. We have intangibles that can massively sway our fans to purchases.

If we can ad in the digital attributes to our sponsorship packages…sports sponsorship can be one of the best, and most financially beneficial in ROI, ways to advertise.

As times change and better advertising products come out we can’t just ignore their power. If we do, we will run the same fate as JC Penney & Blockbuster.

My hope is this article can help give a different perspective on understanding your sponsors and the other assets they have in the industry in order to drive value.

If my words can’t convince you that you need to make a big shift to offering digital assets…I am hoping that math can.

7 Sponsorship Campaigns Perfect For The Remote Restarts In Sports

Games are coming back…which is amazing. It is an amazing opportunity to get back to Zero with any sponsorship make goods we lost in the shutdown.

The keys we need to remember is 2 fold:

  1. We have to make up $17Bn in lost revenue. This is THE opportunity to put a dent in it.
  2. We have to remember that the attention the restart garners is not on our domain. Television networks are controlling the ads and connections.

We CANNOT rely on just tweeting the game and slapping a logo on that highlight. In order to really make up the value, we have to get creative.

Remember through all of this, we have to make up the VALUE they were expecting to receive in your stadium. This means if they planned on handing out paper coupons…you have to get them to fans digitally now.

If they were looking for leads…you need to find a way to capture them digitally.

If they wanted to build a 1-to-1 connection…you need to replace a booth setting digitally.

This week on The Inches Podcast Rich & I dove into how you can add assets to the at-home viewing experience for fans to help make up the lost activation.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I’m breaking it down below:

Replacing the stadium booth asset with an analysis live stream from the sponsoring employees

A hot asset that I’ve been hearing in important make good assets to replace is the stadium booting experience for partners.

Partners absolutely love boothing for a few reasons:

  1. They get a 1-to-1 intimate connection with the fan. Putting a face to a name, building familiarity with a person and not just a brand.
  2. The leads they generate with that connection so they can follow up with context.

So with this, if our fans are watching a network showing of our game….how can we create an activation that re-creates the above goals.

I brought this up on a LinkedIn Live session but I think it is a perfect replacement and one that fans would love to engage with.

Create a pre-game, halftime, or end of game Facebook Live stream where an agent from your insurance partner is a guest analyst.

From what I’ve seen in sponsorship, our partners usually have a staff member that is absolutely nuts about the sport or team they sponsor. They would be a great analyst to bring input on the game that is being played.

What this does is builds familiarity with the agent for your entire fan base each game. It puts a face to a name. The next time the fan thinks of insurance, that agent’s name will pop up.

It mimics the familiarity they would build with a sponsor at the booth.

Of course, you need to vet them a bit. The last thing you want is a viral rant where the agent says the coach should be fired…but I would argue that most agents would be professional just as they would at the booth during a game.

If you wanted to build in lead generation you can easily create a landing page where fans can enter their email for a prize at the end of the segment…or even better give the ability for fans to send in questions.

If you’re really worried about how the agent will do with analysis (or you can’t find someone with enough knowledge in your sport) you can easily replace this by running a halftime activation with the agent like Trivia.

The agent will be the host and take fans through the experience and facilitate the questions and answers. He can even shout out the winners and push for joining the following week.

Overall, if we’re replacing the stadium booth asset we need to build something that gets fans familiar with the agent and generating leads. a live broadcast on Facebook with the agent as an additional analyst is a key way you can do that extremely inexpensively.

Text opt-in goal activation campaign

This activation is to help with any sponsors who are looking to replace handing out physical coupons at games. We obviously don’t have fans in the stands…so we’ll have to replace that virtually.

It may be too obvious to state but the goal of an offer is to get the fan purchasing at the sponsor location instead of a competitor. So we’ll want to mimic that goal.

So with that, I suggest an opt-in text campaign that sends a contest when the first goal (or any goal depending on your offer inventory) is scored.

You’ll send fans to an opt-in text page (text GOAL to 897–465) to get them opted in. The reason I suggest doing this is it gets them committed to the activation. Also, phone numbers are extremely valuable…more on why later.

When your team scores a goal, a text is sent to all that signed up to play an activation like a scratch & win where they can win sponsor offers and prizes.

This makes it feel exclusive to the fan and gives a feeling of earning the offer. This is why at SQWAD we’ve seen an average in-store redemption rate of 56% with the offers sent on our activations.

By tying it into a goal, or really any game milestone, it pulls the fan into the game and puts the spotlight on the sponsors. They will get fan recognition while sending an offer.

But we won’t stop there. With the phone number, we can send a post-game text letting the fan know that there is exclusive game content on our Snapchat channel with a link to click and follow.

This campaign not only can help you send offers but single-handedly double your Snapchat following….which then becomes a sponsor-able digital asset to engage.

Just sending out offers is great, but the campaign above will drive more redemption by making the fan earn their coupon by signing up for the text campaign and scratching to win a prize (or any other digital contest).

Overall, if you can pull fans into a program like this you not only gather valuable data…but you prime them to engage with your sponsorship activation and offers before the game.

Pre-game activations are vital, but maybe not thought about enough

With no fans in the stands, we lose a valuable hour and a half of in-stadium activation time before the game starts. This is a huge amount of inventory time to make up that we can’t forget about.

Luckily we can pull them back in with some pre-game activities or activations.

One of the first that comes to mind is a prediction game (who scores the most goals, etc). Your fantasy and gaming partners would eat these assets up if you offered them.

But you’ll want to build a habit of fans coming into your game day experience early and activating with your sponsor just as they would in your stadium…not just when the puck drops and they jump on their television sets.

Again we’ll want to incentivize them to come back into our world early, building in a pre-game contest or activation to pull them in before the broadcast will be key to adding inventory that you can offer as a make-good.

For example, we at SQWAD did a Dunkin’ Race with the Chicago Bulls every Thursday during the month of May where fans could choose a winner between the Dunkin’ characters to lock them in.

At 7 PM they would play the animation of the race on their Instagram Stories so the fan could tune in and see if they won. If their character was the winner they won a free item at Dunkin’ which was emailed to the fan instantly.

Even if the fan didn’t win they received an email with an offer as well.

This could easily be done during pre-game at a set time during every remote game in order to build a habit with fans to play. We can start the drive them to pay attention to your game with pre-game activations like this.

More specifically for your food sponsor, what if you added a takeout program that gave fans an incentive to order takeout from your sponsor restaurants before the game. You could even try and mimic the foods they would buy at the ballpark before the game.

Fans could see the menu items from each partner restaurant that changes each game. This would drive trackable sales while bringing fans again into your gameday experience early.

Overall, don’t forget about the pre-game time. We can command our fan’s attention and focus it on a sponsored activation to build value and habit.

Live stream your scoreboard

We’ve been talking with a few teams about this, but if we truly want to bring the fan’s attention into our ecosystem and not rely on the broadcast your team should be live streaming your scoreboard.

First, it will create an amazingly localized 2nd screen experience for your fans. They will be longing for the familiarity of being at the game. This will pull them back into that nostalgia and feeling of normal.

Second, it will allow you to activate your in-stadium contests digitally. If you had a Trivia Activation that you ran during the game normally you can still run it and get value. If you had some highlight

I know there may be issues with streaming live game elements with the broadcasters and league…you can obviously black this out.

But the key here is when that commercial break comes on you are pulling them onto your scoreboard feed, and therefore back into your world with assets you can sponsor.

Obviously, make sure the content is on point. You need to convince them to choose your scoreboard feed over their Twitter feed.

At SQWAD we’re building a game center for a few teams that includes a scoreboard feed to the top and interactive games below so the fan gets the experience all in one place. It will live in the team app or on their social channels. If your team is interested in that click here to chat more with us.

Overall, I think it would be a huge opportunity lost to reach fans and focus their attention on your team if you don’t. It wouldn’t be hard to do this and embed it through platforms like YouTube or Facebook.

Celebrity commentary via audio

This is a wild card but man will it hit big if done correctly. If you are a local sports fan usually you want to hear from your local commentators. We want to experience the game from a more localized viewpoint.

Let’s take this a step further. Stay with me here. What if the Lakers got Snoop Dogg to be the commentator for a game?

Who wouldn’t tune into his take on LeBron James absolutely slamming it down after driving coast to coast?

Setting this up would be fairly simple, set up a live audio feed that fans can turn on while watching the game. You could stream it through a page on your website, your app, heck even an Alexa skill all at once for full coverage.

Tell fans to mute their TV and watch the broadcast with the Snoop Dogg audio stream running. You can have it match up to the game. Think about how viral that experience would be.

You may be asking “Nick, this would be cool…but where is the sponsorship value?”.

If fans are tuned into this experience it is unlikely they switch (unless Snoop is really off point and boring). When the commercial break comes on Snoop can give a quick recap and then read some sponsorship messages.

Imagine that Jake from State Farm pops in? What a great way to integrate a sponsor in a memorable way.

You could add a digital contest if grabbing leads is important to the sponsor. Adding a promo for a suite of your activations linked with the show would be an easy shout-out but also give another experience to the broadcast.

Ok, the Snoop Dogg side of this may be a bit too expensive to pull off…but you can still bring on characters who are fans to do this (although Kevin Hart doing this for Sixers games would be gold).

At the very least having an alumnus or super fan jump on would be gold.

Again we are looking for experiences to incentivize fans to choose your media over what they see on TV. We need ways to grab them back into our domain & experience so we can connect a sponsor.

This is a great way to bring new life to an easy to engage with the audio experience. I don’t think there would be many sponsors who wouldn’t want their name associated with it.

If you aren’t a team restarting (Minor Leagues, I’m looking at you) you can still leverage the excitement

As we think about re-starts we mainly think about major league teams. Unfortunately, many minor league teams had their season cut short with a ton of make-good to make up.

There is absolutely no reason (unless the league office gives a huge NO) that you can’t piggyback off of this attention and bring fans into your experience of viewing the restart games.

Running a scratch & win every time your parent team scores a goal or hits a 3pter can be just as effective for your sponsors.

If you are a minor league team, this is also an opportunity for you to utilize the restart and have make good activations associated with it.

Be sure to give your local spin, activations, and flare to it. But every minor league hockey, baseball, and basketball team should be strategizing on how they can leverage the excitement for their fans.

Heck, even USL teams should take advantage of the Premier League and MLS re-starts. Just because you have games coming back doesn’t mean you are all set with make goods.

Don’t forget about postgame

As the broadcast ends, we don’t want to let them shift their attention away so quickly to the next Netflix show episode they are binging.

You should think about your post-game features and live streaming them on platforms like Youtube and Facebook.

Again we have a lot of make goods to deliver on. We can’t waste the post-game time right after we’ve grabbed their attention.

Having a live show right after the game from your team will be vital for keeping them an extra hour.

Or even better, how can we activate them toward an offer or purchase?

Utilizing an activation like a photo scramble with the photo of the night is a great way to keep them connected and engaged with the partner and team. Offer that the first 150 fans to finish win a prize or offer to a partner restaurant or 10% off a retail store.

That simple activation can bring another hour of connection with sponsors and send out another offer that can lead to a trackable sale.

Building a habit for fans each post-game to engage with just helps us bring them back each game and increases our inventory to offer partners.

Overall, we can’t just stop engagement after the game ends. When building your inventory game plan you have to take into account ways to stay connected during the post-game.

The beauty of these…you can use them when we get games back to normal.

With every activation we build into the remote gameday experience it’s another one we can add to our menu when games get back.

By taking the extra step now we can come out of this with twice the value and inventory. This is how you upsell partners next season…or even better keep them on the activation you launched in the restart because they see the value in it.

The time invested today is not short-term. These will have lasting value as we get things back to normal. Understanding this is the pathway to coming out on top when this is all over.

Overall the message is you absolutely can’t waste this opportunity by doing what you’ve always done

Like sports teams, we have sponsorship debt. Many of us have activations we need to make good on.

Even if you don’t, you have an opportunity to gain from the attention the restart garners.

If you are planning on just tweeting the game then you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to connect fans to sponsors, reach the sponsors’ goal, and create value in the process of relationships and revenue.

Any of the above ideas will work wonders for your sponsors in reaching their goals…but more than that it proves to them that you care about making things right. You care about their marketing goal and helping them reach it because that is what you are committed to doing.

Sit down, map out your partners, map their goals out, and get creative for how you can pull fans into your game experience to build inventory that will prove results more than placing a branded tarp over seats.

We can do better, we must do better, and, hopefully, we will do better.

I hope the above ideas spark some of your own.

How you can authentically add your sponsors into your health & safety messaging

We’re on the horizon for getting fans back into our stadium barring a major health setback. (knock on wood). With fans back we’ll need to ensure that they feel safe, are safe, and still have a great experience in our stadiums while feeling healthy.

But in these regulations, we’ll most likely see our stadiums at half capacity. This means the sponsors that buy (or already bought) assets will most likely be looking for ways to connect more with your fans.

This week on The Inches podcast Rich & I dove into how you can authentically connect your fans with sponsors through health & safety messaging and campaigns.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE. But as always read below for some key insights from our chat.

Safety & health messaging with be vital for regulations AND your fan’s piece of mind

First, let’s talk about why you’ll need safety & health messaging. First…it’s the right thing to do for your organization. We always want to create spaces where our fans feel safe to come, cheer, and enjoy our game day experience.

To put the health & safety message on the back burner or at secondary priority is to say you take their safety as a second priority. We simply cannot let this happen nor should it be the stance of our team.

Our fans will feel some anxiety about coming back and being in large crowds. How can we take that anxiety and flip it so that they have no question when they walk into our stadiums? An overemphasis & communication on the ways you are keeping them safe. They need to without any hesitation understand that your stadium is THE safest place they will walk into this month.

Second, we can’t forget that fans have never experienced gameday post-pandemic. To expect them to be educated on the process of being healthy creates a huge problem.

Let’s ensure that we set the standard of how fans should interact in your stadium. How they should enter, sit, buy food, walk on the concourse, everything.

If you can over-educate, you can get the message of safety ingrained into the culture of your game day. Into the very ethos of your in-stadium experience & culture.

Ok, Nick. This is all great…but where does sponsorship fit into this?

Activation has a better recall, this is how you make up for the lost in-stadium reach

As we think about the process of notifying & educating our fans on health & safety we are actively attracting their attention.

It is not just a sign (most of the time). It will need to be an active action as opposed to a passive one (even if that passive asset is a sign, let’s put it into an active way to grab attention by being different…more later).

If we are actively reaching our fans there is the ability to help activate our sponsors. In fact, active activation in sponsorship has a greater recall & value for your sponsors.

This education and messaging process we go through with our fans will be a prime opportunity to help ingrain our sponsors into the activation.

As we push into this process of getting fans back we have an uphill battle to make up the assets we lost. We have to find any and all opportunities to make this lost revenue and connection up.

Simply put, it is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Think about how you can sync messages with sponsor

Even though this is an opportunity to connect fans to our sponsors….we cannot just slap a sponsor on the messaging.

This is a very delicate subject of safety & health of our fans. It is a powerful statement that we care about the well-being of the fans that have supported our team.

As we look at ways to incorporate our sponsor the most vital thing will come with authenticity. How can you insert the sponsor and their values into the message so authentically that a fan wouldn’t think twice about it?

Obviously there are thousands of ways to do this…but I pulled some that came to my mind and listed them below to help get you started.

Food sponsor talking about concession hygiene on a message video

You may have seen it already but many of the large food chains have also had the task of educating their consumers on health & safety measures they are taking.

Many of these chains are big sponsors.

We probably will be making an ‘airline safety type video that informs our fans on the steps we are taking to be safe as well as how they should act in the stadium to be safe.

During that video, we should have the food sponsor go over the safety tips and steps for fans. This will immediately build trust with that restaurant from the fans and helps tell a vital message that their locations are also safe.

This simple activation & integration into the main health & safety video can bring an immense amount of value to the partner.

New spaces mean new assets, even in your restrooms

We’ve chatted about this before but prior to you open your building you’ll want to do a walkthrough and visualize where you will have open assets.

There will be physical situations where we have to social distance….and our restrooms are one of them.

If we didn’t take the time to think about our physical spaces…this is what we may see in our stadium restrooms:

This is economical, safe, and gets the message across. But is there an opportunity to integrate a sponsor into this situation?

A simple change of mindset can open up new assets and keep our fans safe. Imagine the recall and impression this will leave the fan with.

Now, in all transparency, I’m not sure this is the best sync up to sponsor with assets. Maybe a plumbing or specific restroom product would be a better fit than a soda can in the restroom.

The point though is simple integrations like these can open up a ton of new and unexpected assets in your arena.

Deep clean brought to you by the cleaning company

I big message will be how the arena is deep cleaned every night to help keep germs away and create a safe environment for fans. I envision that almost every game day will bring a massive wipe down of seats, chairs, tables, bars, all of the above.

If you have a cleaning sponsor, this is the perfect sync up. You’ll most likely need to create video content around this to show the process of cleaning the arena. This is a great moment to sync a cleaning brand with this educational content.

These are the sync ups you should be looking for. A transfer of your trust to their product. When fans go back to that cleaning aisle for their supplies, that brand will be top of mind.

Car partner/dealer faces cover that fits in the space between the fans (like bus stop bench ads)

We need to get very creative with our open spaces. Again we have $17Bn to make up in the sponsorship industry.

From what it is sounding like, we won’t have half of our fans in the arena. This will most likely mean there will be about 6 seats between families or groups.

We could just leave the seats empty…but open space brings inventory. And again we can’t waste it.

What if we filled those seats with print outs of the dealers (like literally their human image) at your car sponsor’s dealerships and put them in the empty seats.

They could all be wearing polos with the car sponsor logo. Some could be whole cars with the new model.

The first item here is fans will be able to see this on TV during close-ups and when it pans during the game. You will get the TV reach for the brand.

But you shouldn’t stop there. We put the dealers on there to help build that familiarity with the people at the company as buying a car is very much a relationship transaction. The fans in the stadium will literally be sitting next to the dealer (well, the cut out).

Take the fact that they will be sitting next to the dealer and create a selfie campaign where the fan tweets which dealer they are sitting next to. I would put the dealer’s Twitter handle on the board and have fans tag the dealer and a hashtag (#sittingnext2toyota) that fans can take a selfie with the stand-up.

The social media buzz & connections with that dealer is a bond that you are facilitating with this campaign. What are the chances that one of those fans is looking for a new car?

If they are, what are the chances that they call or tweet that salesperson to do the deal?

This is how you can take what most might just put a logo on and really create a deep connection with the salesperson. We can’t get lazy with logo coverings…we must get creative toward our sponsor goals.

Don’t overdo it or be too light-hearted

Above are just a few ideas of how you can integrate your sponsors into the health and safety messages and procedures. I am 100% confident you can find your unique ways to create assets like the ones above…honestly even better than the ones above.

One thing we must remember though is the pandemic is an extremely delicate situation. People have died and jobs have been lost.

We should not take this light-heartedly. We can’t overdo it.

Use your judgment here and ask yourself, “If I had someone affected by the virus, would I be comfortable with this activation?”

There is a fine line here. Make sure you are authentically integrating your sponsors.

This can open up more inventory for the ones we lost if done correctly.

I have been bringing this up a lot but it needs to be said as many times as necessary to make it stick.

We have $17Bn in sponsorship revenue to make up.

As we look at our safety & health measures and education there are ways we can absolutely integrate our sponsors and bring key activation to their goals.

If all goes well, we’ll have fans back…but at half capacity. If we can open new creative ways to connect them to sponsors through these safety measures…we can put a huge dent in the sponsorship revenue we lost.

Be safe, be authentic. But don’t be lazy. These are the assets that may save us.

The end of seasonality in sports sponsorship

I’ve always been intrigued with seasonal businesses. Summer beach restaurants, pumpkin patches, Christmas stores…they have a 3-month window to sell 90% of their inventory.

If they hit big, they hit big. If they have a slump, they have to wait until the next season.

In many ways, sports sponsorship is the same way. Each year we activate with partners for 3–6 months (depending on the league) and then re-negotiate toward the next season.

If they hit, they hit fairly big and we look for more value the following year with a renewal. If the campaign does not do well…or it gets off to a slow start…we only have a season to bring the promised value.

Well with the pandemic…we have had a tough season. It has exposed us to the fact that we rely on a season with live games to make money.

To battle back the industry pushed toward ways to connect with our fans despite the loss of fans in our stadiums and games.

I believe we have seen the last of sports sponsorship being a seasonal advertising platform. Here’s why.

This pandemic exposed us…but set us up to create a sponsorship world where you can drive revenue all year.

This pandemic has been terrible on all ends. We’ve had to shift everything that we do in order to survive.

With the huge reliance on live games…we in sports were exposed.

In most cases, 60% of our revenue came from ticketing & concessions. This is too much of a reliance on live games to happen in our stadiums in order to survive and pay the bills.

The same can be said about our assets in sponsorship. The majority of them relied on in-stadium signage and on-location activation. Both of these lose their value when we don’t have fans in the stands.

As an industry, we’ve been amazing at adapting. We’ve built new digital assets, campaigns, and even uses for our stadium spaces to recoup the value lost.

This has, ultimately, set us up to make more money when this ends. It has forced us into creating assets that have no reliance on live games.

This shift has given us the keys to billions of dollars…if we can see it and take advantage of it. We can take sponsorship from seasonal to year-round in the value we drive.

Teams are influencers…The Kardashians don’t only make money when their show is airing. They make it all year.

One thing I think we forget is we as teams are influencers in the purest form of the word.

We built, over decades, a captivated community with a common love…our teams. The influence many times is generational, which is the next level of the influencer process.

With this, we’ve built something that can sustain itself without live games. In the past, we relied on our stadium experience and broadcasts to carry our sponsorship assets. It used to be the only time we could reach fans on a large scale.

Then the internet came to be. All of a sudden we have access to multiple channels (email, social, video streaming) in which we can reach our fans at any given moment.

I liken this phenomenon to the empire that the Kardashians built through their reality show. What started on E! as the only way to consume the life of this family, they have all built an empire from their social media channels.

If The Kardashians show was canceled…it would have little consequence to their ability to make money.

The reason? They have diversified their attention channels. If the above happened, the family would simply post their content onto their own channels and integrate in brands.

That’s right…they’ve essentially built their own network with a built-in advertising platform ( promoting brands, etc.)

I say this with hesitation but in order to take sports sponsorship to the next level…we need to be like the Kardashians.

That is to say, we must build out our distribution channels and following so that if games are taken from us we have the diversified assets to still drive revenue.

It is no different from diversifying your stock portfolio. You can’t put all your eggs into one basket, nor should you as in an amazing market you make twice the money.

As we look at the end of seasonality in sponsorship, it hinges on our ability to build our own following so we can monetize all year long.

We must now be 24/7/365 because digital ads are.

I’ve written about this before, but sponsorship was at a disadvantage by only activating during the season.

The main reason? Digital ads are 24/7/365.

That is to say that a Facebook ad can make a partner trackable revenue all year long. In some cases, they make money while we sleep.

With our assets, really they were the most effective during the season…then dulled out when it ended. We threw in a few off-season golf tournaments to bring value.

If we plan on continuing to compete with digital ads, we must build the assets that make our brand’s money while they sleep.

And here is what I mean by that. If immediately after the season ends we launch the following digital campaigns:

-Top 10 videos for each star player

-Season recaps with individual players

-Rookie to sophomore reports

We’ve built assets that have long-tail consumption. We have content that the brand will see real value while they sleep as fans will literally be watching while the CMOs sleep.

By building a library up of content on digital platforms we become the Kardashians. We can reach our fans at any moment with our content…many times while we sleep as a team.

In order to really turn this corner and come out more powerful at the end…we have to build our assets outside of live sports to monetize. This is the way to do it.

This is how we dig out…but also how we go from $24Bn to $100Bn industry.

The North American sports sponsorship market is $24Bn. Our live games have built quite the market.

And we have content for the off-season to keep that attention all year…but have we really doubled down on it?

Let me put it this way. If we could double our partnership revenue with more inventory…would you hire a sponsorship & digital team with the sole purpose of monetizing off-season assets?

I think to turn the corner we need to totally re-think how we structure our departments.

Imagine if we were able to create a digital sponsorship department of our teams. A department whose sole purpose is to monetize our digital assets.

We could absolutely double, triple, and beyond our revenue.

In sports, we are on the verge of a transformation. A massive metamorphosis that will define our industry.

If we can push our monetization to not rely on live games. If we can recycle our content, give it new life, and understand the power and following we have online…we can take our industry to the next stage in its life cycle.

But ultimately, it falls on us.

As creative sponsorship industry people, we must understand that our organizations need to make this shift and take the steps today to build it. We have to make the scary, massive shifts to take advantage of what we have in front of us.

Sponsorship is no longer seasonal. It can’t be if we are to grow as an industry.

The 14 Sports Sponsorship Sales Commandments by Rich Franklin (1–7)

I said it before, but the value I get when chatting with Rich Franklin on sponsorship is always unrivaled. I’m blessed to have him as a resource and knowledge base for all things sponsorship.

When I am struggling with something in sponsorship…he is whom I go to.

A big reason why I brought him onto the podcast was that I couldn’t keep that knowledge to myself. Our chats in his office had to be shared with the industry.

This week’s episode brought the epitome of that value.

This week on The Inches podcast Rich blessed us with the first 7 of his 14 sales commandments in sports sponsorship. The staples to success in selling sponsorship in the sports business.

A big reason for why we wanted to dive into this now is with all of the change we are seeing in the industry, sometimes it is best to get back to our foundations to really grow and thrive.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I dive in more below:

1. Don’t confuse activity for productivity

This is one that we often miss in sales overall. We are hired to produce and reach our goals of revenue.

Many times we think that if we get on 1,000 calls, by sheer force, we’ll get results. We sometimes put activity on a pedestal in sales, thinking that the person who is the most active is the most productive.

This though can get us into trouble if it doesn’t link to productivity. If the activity doesn’t lead productively toward our goal, to really produce results, then it is a waste of our time.

As we audit our actions, we need to link how our activity drives productivity. Stop thinking 1,000 calls is the goal. You could have 10 calls instead where 4 leads to sales and it is more productive than 1,000 to one.

As we set our expectations and plans, we need to not confuse activity with productivity. We absolutely need to see which activities lead to results and double down on those.

Don’t be busy to be busy, be busy to produce results.

2. Know your customer, know your fan base, know your product

As a salesperson, it is vital to our jobs to fanatically understand these three. They are almost the trinity of sponsorship sales.

In order to sell to our customers (sponsors), we need to understand their needs, wants, missions, and goals. How can we help them if we don’t understand this?

In order to properly connect our sponsors with our fans authentically, we must know our fans and how they consume our content & games.

In order to offer the proper remedy to the sponsor’s goals WHILE helping them reach our fans authentically…we must know our products.

This is a bit further than knowing that we have signs, sponsored tweets, etc. We have to be experts about which assets bring the benefit of solving their marketing problems.

When we know all 3 of these, we are a force to reckon with in the advertising industry. When we obsess over these three…we become unstoppable.

This is a key commandment to understand and know inside and out.

3. It’s a numbers game — prospect constantly, not seasonally

But Nick, you just said activity does not equal productivity…

Yes, but the key here is we have no offseason. There are only so many clients we touch that will see the value in our assets or we might not be the right fit for.

If we limit the number of brands we are in front of we limit the opportunity to reach the right ones.

In sports sponsorship, we have to be constantly prospecting, constantly looking for people to connect with, and constantly looking for how we can help.

This doesn’t mean be spammy, pushy, or go over the line as a salesperson…but we do need to make sure we are seeking out those opportunities.

Sponsorship is not a seasonal product any longer. We are 24/7/365. We have to follow suit in prospecting. Remember you will get more no’s than yes’s…that is why it is a number’s game.

4. Don’t use “hope” as a strategy for success

This is one that jumped out at me. Many times we put ourselves in the position of hoping that a client comes in.

This is a status that we can’t be in with our sponsors. Hope is not a strategy for success.

What does this mean? I see it in two ways:

  1. Asking the hard questions with your sponsors about how they are feeling about the assets in front of them.
  2. Truly understanding their needs so the assets that you offer fit so well.

We can’t have a strategy of pitch and “hope” they come in. If we can unequivocally understand their needs and ask the hard questions when we reach the level of “hope” as a strategy to see where we fell off.

This is a very underrated commandment and a key to driving more sales.

5. Find a local champion in the prospect company

It takes a lot of steps to get a yes in sponsorship sales. There are many decision-makers in the process for most of the deals we push through.

A key to finding success many times comes with finding that person who will help champion you to the finish line. Someone who believes in you, the team, and the assets you are presenting.

Maybe they believe in these because it helps them succeed in their job, maybe they are huge hockey fans, maybe they really connect with you…whatever it is having them help push for your assets and deal will help tremendously.

If you can find a champion in the organization (or build one) you have a way better chance to close the deal.

6. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, pitch multiple prospects in the same category

Some see this as an issue in the sponsorship industry, but Rich dives into how this is vital for success.

Our job is to find the best asset for the best sponsors to help them reach their goals. If we put all our effort into just one say insurance company…we lose out on the ability to help the others.

And really the goal is to find the right fit for our assets and the company. If we limit our reach to just one car dealership, airline, insurance broker, etc. we miss out potentially on gaining a great partner.

In this process, we can be fully transparent and should be, that we are talking with others in the same category. Again our goal is to find the best fit for a partnership. But we can’t limit ourselves as we talk with companies.

When prospecting, talk with many companies in a category that you currently don’t have an exclusive partnership with and look for ways you can help.

7. Build value in your sponsor’s head before you tell the price

In all cases, we want to stay away from making this a transactional & commoditized relationship. In order to do this, we must be able to prove the value in our sponsor’s head before we bring up the price.

Why? It will tie the price to value before they decide.

Really it is proving that your assets are the best fit for them and will help them reach their goals.

A great analogy here is running shoes. $190 might seem like a large amount of money for a pair of running shoes, and if we just saw a picture and price we’d probably not pay for them.

But what if we were told that these running shoes brought down wear & tear on your knees? What if we were told that they would shave 2 minutes off our mile time? Would they be worth the money then?

The same goes for our assets & packages. Before you bring up the price you really need to understand your partner’s needs, show them how your assets will bring them value, and then show them how much that value will cost.

Context is everything in pricing. If we can prove our value to sponsors we can show them that this price is worth it to achieve their goals.

Rich’s sports sponsorship sales commandments 8–14 on deck

With so much to go over here, we broke the episodes into 2 parts so we could spend enough time going over them. Next week we’ll go over Rich’s commandments 8–14 to round out the list. Already a huge amount of value here to take us back to our foundations.

More to come.