Strategic sponsorships can be of tremendous value, effectively building brand awareness and creating authentic engagement opportunities. In 2015, Beehive client Christopher & Banks (CB) successfully engaged in a corporate sponsorship with the Women of Faith (WOF) LOVED tour. The sponsorship allowed CB to get in front of a new audience of potential customers at WOF events around the country, driving sales as a result. While the sponsorship was a success in its first year, WOF decided to discontinue the tour in 2016, leaving CB seeking a new sponsorship opportunity to help continue building brand awareness with new audiences. As Beehive began looking for new opportunities on behalf of CB, we were reminded that not all sponsorships are created equal—it is critical the sponsorship is a match for both brands. Here are few questions you can ask to determine if a strategic sponsorship is right for your brand: 1. Do the two brands share consistent values? Sponsorships that match like-minded organizations result in authentic activations that bring shared core values to life. Virgin America and Zappos.com are both known for championing innovation and heralding new marketing and business practices with out-of-the-box thinking. This made their strategic partnership in 2015 a perfect match. 2. Does the sponsorship allow each brand to reach its target market? A relationship is only beneficial if target audiences align. One of the best examples I was fortunate to work on was the 2010 US Census. Historically, children were among the most undercounted segments of the population. The Census Bureau engaged in a strategic sponsorship with Nickelodeon to bring Dora the Explorer to Census commercials and guest appearances at Census functions to teach families the importance of being counted. Dora also became a key feature of the Census in Schools program to deliver the empowering message that “Children Count too.” 3. Will this sponsorship help the brand achieve its goals? Whether the goal is to drive sales, earn more social followers or drive event attendance, a sponsorship should have clear, measurable goals. A collaboration between Kenneth Cole and Men’s Wearhouse is a great example. Men’s Wearhouse became the exclusive carrier of the Kenneth Cole AWEARNESS Collection, which brought tailored, brand name options to Men’s Wearhouse customers. One percent of proceeds from the collection went to Hire Heroes USA. This relationship checked all the boxes for a successful sponsorship:
- helped both companies expand audience reach
- focused on driving sales
- helped both companies achieve community relations goals —making a social impact while driving their bottom line
4. Finally, is this sponsorship a win-win for all involved? Engaging in a sponsorship for the first time is similar to looking at online dating profiles. Both companies need to size each other up to see if the relationship might be a fit and determine if they are interested in taking it the next step. The sponsorship should provide both brands with something new – something they couldn’t do alone. Each company should also get added-value, including branded placements on social media channels, in advertisements, in customer emails and more. This showcases just a few of the many examples of sponsorship activations done right. If you have a great brand sponsorship story, please share it in the blog comments. It’s always helpful to see best practices and learn from each other.