Many businesses are suffering financially during the COVID-19 crisis. This may have a flow on effect to your club as these businesses may be your sponsors!
Many clubs are now concerned about keeping sponsors engaged considering sponsorship dollars are a major source of income. These six tips will hopefully help your club keep your sponsors.
Respond, don’t react
It’s important to think through the club’s challenges and opportunities rather than reacting quickly to a situation and later wishing you had hindsight. It is inevitable that some partners won’t be able to afford to pay their bills in FY20, therefore it is integral that clubs work collaboratively with partners through the crisis.
It’s natural to want to react to a negative situation as quickly as possible but stopping and thinking through your options will ensure the best outcome is achieved for the long term – not just the short term. Work collaboratively with partners with a long-term lens.
Undertaking the appropriate risk profiling enables you to prioritise which partners you need to be focussing on and when. Categorise in Low, Medium, and High-risk categories (by investment, by asset delivery capability and by impact on partners industry).
Review your club assets
Your first port of call should not be reducing sponsorship fee’s, but rather determining what alternate benefits you can offer to your partners so that they can still derive value. Club assets refer to what the club can ‘sell’ to the sponsors. During a normal season, this may include logos on apparel and equipment, signage at the ground and PA announcements during home matches. These assets are, of course, temporarily not of value.
Your club needs to consider new and different assets that the club can use to offer value in place of assets not currently of value. These could include:
- Logos on newsletters
- Logos on email signatures for club personnel
- Inviting sponsors to virtual club gatherings like team dinners
- Naming rights to podcasts, Facebook events, virtual training sessions and other club related initiatives
- More social media and website opportunities
- Access to run a competition for your audience (e.g. chance to win a sponsor product / service)
- Opportunity to send a promotion or special offer to your audience / members (note: never provide your mailing lists to a sponsor or 3rd party at this would be in breach of privacy laws)
The sponsors showing support for the club even during tough times may increase that sponsors reputation amongst your audience.
Talk to your sponsors
As the situation has changed, so might your sponsor’s needs. It’s important to ask your sponsors what the club can do to support their business during this time– remembering we are all in this together! Similarly, you may like to reinforce your thanks and appreciation of their loyalty to the club during the most unprecedented and challenging time in the club’s history.
A business may have various and multiple reasons to enter a sponsorship partnership. The drivers for sponsorship may have changed. Check in with you sponsor and ask what they may now need from the club.
Ensure you are communicating constantly with sponsors about the club’s plan and strategy – keep them in the dialogue and abreast of all planning and scenarios around returning to play.
Where applicable, players should also be encouraged to contact their individual sponsors and check in on how they are going and provide them with the latest updates around returning to play.
Don’t forget to put your new partnership plan into writing so that you and your partner are 100% on the same page.
Social media is a great way creatively involve your sponsors and initiate conversation amongst your audience with the aim to keep sponsors front of mind.
Here are some quick ideas:
- Encourage your audience to take photos of them supporting your sponsor – driving their car, using their product, shopping at their store and share and hashtag
- Ask followers what meal they are missing the most from the local restaurant, club, cafe (of course, this only works if you are sponsored by a food service business)
- Posting business operating hours or online services and encourage the audience to support the sponsor
- Get players to post a video thanking sponsors
- Encourage sponsors to participate in club social media interaction like #stayathomechallenge
- “Get to know your Sponsor” posts or online quizzes
- Encourage players to submit past photos of the team and attach a brand / sponsor to the competition
Renegotiate terms if necessary
Remember, this is a time for flexibility, agility, and support. Supporting your sponsorships in hardship may strengthen their relationship with the club and encourage longer partnerships when the situation changes.
Do not be afraid to renegotiate your contracts to better suit the current situation. This may include renegotiating:
- Term of the contract
- Deliverable of the contract
- Payment dates
If you have questions or would like to share how your club has successfully kept sponsors engaged, email firstname.lastname@example.org.