ac·tiva·tion (aktiˈvāSH(ə)n/) - The action or process of making something active or operative. At Leavine Family Racing and Market Share Sports, we define it as “bringing sponsorships/partnerships to LIFE!”
Race team sponsorships, specifically in NASCAR, present great investment opportunities for brands. There are lots of positive signs for future growth.
- National property that can be activated regionally
- Large group of loyal fans
- New emerging talent
- Social media activity is improving
- Integration of innovative technology
I could write several other blogs discussing each of those elements. For now, let’s just suffice it to say there are good opportunities for brands in the sport.
There is no sponsorship opportunity known to man that is good enough to stand alone and deliver ROI needed to justify the expense. You can’t sponsor a team and wait for the dollars to flow in. We all know that. Yet, I still see way too many brands make the decision to invest in sponsorships without a real plan for activating them in a way that will drive sales. In this or any business environment you cannot decide to spend significant dollars on sponsorships without a meaningful activation strategy. Here are a few thoughts on activation from the team at Market Share Sports.
Making Sponsorships Work Is Your Responsibility
You know your business. You know what it takes to sell your product. You know how your CEO, Board, boss, etc. measure successful marketing programs. Race teams may have an idea from working with similar companies in the past, but they do not understand the intricacies of your business. You shouldn’t expect them to.
Sports sponsorships are just another marketing platform. They are more fun than most, but this is still business. Sponsorships will be held to the same standards as your other marketing investments. If there are no measurable results associated with your sponsorship, it is highly likely that your budget will be cut when the contract comes up for renewal.
You must be an active player. Communicate your company’s expectations to the race team, jointly figure out their role in the overall strategy and then plan for how you and your agency partners are going to leverage your new racing assets to drive business.
Plan for Every Touch Point of Your Business
If you have ever been pitched a NASCAR deck, you have heard about how loyal our fans are to sponsors and how your logo on the car creates awareness for your brands. Though impressions are valuable, there is no line for impressions on a financial statement.
Fans are loyal, but if they can’t find your product on the shelf at their local retailer, then they can’t buy it. Don’t limit your vision for what can be accomplished with your sponsorship to just brand awareness. This investment can impact every touch point of your business.
M&M’s is one of NASCAR’s longest running team sponsors. It’s a cool car and fans love it, but you are mistaken if you think that is why they have been in the sport for so long. Their sales force sells in shippers, dump bins and display units on a weekly basis as NASCAR makes its way through the season. They entertain VIP’s and execs from key customers at the track. They work B2B relationships with other NASCAR and team sponsors. There are employee incentive programs. They win before they ever get to the track because their activation has been built to impact every touch point of their business. What the team does on the track that weekend is a bonus.
Not everyone has the budget or a product that is as easy to merchandise as M&M’s. However, the sooner you start integrating your sponsorship into various parts of your business the better.
Don’t Go It Alone
Like most things in life, anyone can put a sponsorship program together, but not everyone can do it well. You do not have time to figure this out on your own. Make sure you hire a consultant/agency partner to help you on this journey. Industry expertise, relationships, resources and time can all help you achieve your ROI/ROO quickly.
Sponsorships are fun! Everyone enjoys the process of becoming an insider with a sports team, being the internal champion at their company, having a hard card, etc., but it doesn’t take long to realize that this is work. Prepare in advance so that your sponsorship investment will have the best chance to be successful.