Sponsorship Mismatch

I am often asked by friends and colleagues about the importance and the value of sponsorship.  It’s a good question.  Sponsorship can be an expensive undertaking, and it is full of potential hazzards for business if not chosen and managed with great care.

The first challenge is to choose carefully and strategically which events/opportunities/charities your business wants to sponsor.  There is no shortage of worthy causes out there, and it is fair to say that a great many community and sporting events quite simply would not take place without corporate sponsorship. 

When choosing an organisation to sponsor, it is very much worthwhile doing your homework, not just about the organisation itself but also about the people that run it.  It is entirely appropriate for you to request details of their current financial position, the names of the board members and details of other sponsors and supporters.  For a partnership to be sustainable and ongoing, the entity needs to be credible and viable. 

Next, you need to be very clear about why you are choosing this particular organisation to sponsor.  What will the sponsorship bring to YOU? Do you want to tap into their network, do you want to have access to cultural or sporting events and activities, are you trying to generate goodwill? Be clear about your objective.  Chosen correctly, this can be highly mutually beneficial.  Sometimes, however, there is an obvious and counter-productive mis-match between the sponsor and their recipient – there was a recent case in point where the Woodford Folk Festival (these patrons tend to be peace-loving, organic-eating and socially aware folks) with Santos, a major producer of energy and not a company that automatically comes to mind when you think of counter-culture and folk music.  Clearly the people at the Woodford Folk Festival were in need of financial support, but it would be fair to say that this choice of sponsor would not sit well with their key support base.

Partnerships must be inherently logical – think of tennis stars being sponsored by sportswear companies and manufacturers of tennis raquets and sports shoes.  They can also be ‘like’ industries – think of Emirates as the major sponsor for the Melbourne Cup… people who can afford a ticket into the exclusive marquees at Flemington are just the sort of people whom Emirates can recruit for a quick shopping trip to Dubai or elsewhere.  Others can be aspirational – partnering NutriGrain with surf carnivals and professional surfing establishes a future wish for the consumers that ties the consumption of the product to an aspiration for the future that is glamorous and exciting.

Finally, the devil is in the detail – before you agree to sponsor anyone or anything, spell out in very finite terms exactly what your sponsorship dollar will actually get you – is your logo on their website? Will they refer sales leads to you? Can you capture business cards from their key clients and partners? Be very specific about what you are paying in, and what you expect to receive, and then monitor these benefits closely over time.

If handled correctly, with the right buy-in price, the right partner, designed to achieve specific goals for your business, your sponsorship dollars can be money very well spent.

Yours in PR,



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