My mom always said “it takes two to tango” — that was usually said right before my father got home from work as she scolded my brother and I for doing something that we shouldn’t have been. The same might be true of our recent sponsorship program. Not about my mom or getting scolded, but finding the right “tango” partner to make marketing magic. One thing we’ve learned along the way is that strong partnerships are the catalyst for great sponsorships.
There’s no denying the sponsorship industry is evolving. Partnerships are taking the place of static sponsorships that were nothing more than advertising — there is a distinct difference in advertising and sponsorship. One is not greater than the other, but both should be included in a robust marketing program. Historically, properties have made it simple for marketers: “Here’s our gold sponsorship package and it includes x, y and z.” Then organizations would buy in and wait for the results — if they bothered to measure.
Last year, we made a concerted effort to raise awareness of US Sports Congress sponsors by providing them with professional development on how to make the most of their individual programs. That starts with a conversation about objectives. From there, the conversation turned to activation. This is where the partnership comes in.
The old model of sponsorship says, “I have a property and these assets, which we’ll package together.”
Marketers would in turn provide cash for the assets (note: the assets were mostly signage at the event). There’s not much spark there.
The new model says, “Our property will bring these assets to the table; let’s talk about how your target market can interact with your brand through this vehicle.”
We saw this on display last year in Savannah, which was hosting US Sports Congress, with our attendees seeing the city firsthand and participating in Savannah Sports Council events. We’re continuing this successful model. In Milwaukee this April, we’re partnering with Fort Worth to host a reception that brings a taste of their destination north — with a country flair. Fort Worth creates a destination experience; we talk about the USSC, but more importantly we work together with a great industry partner to talk about our brands together. Thanks to my mom for teaching me another lesson—there are plenty of great “tango” partners out there, you just need to find the right one.