Jun 15, 2009 at 09:34 PM
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Hedging the Economy with Category Selection?

This weekend, we got a note that Phoenix International Raceway had secured title sponsorship for the Nationwide race in November from a company called Able Body Labor (ablebody.net).


Able Body is a leader in the temp staffing arena employing more than 125,000 workers each year while providing comprehensive staffing solutions for thousands of customers across many industries including construction, light industrial, manufacturing, distribution, event staffing, hospitality and disaster recovery. Ok, that makes a little more sense. The economic trend, while disastrous for many sponsor categories may be turning in their favor according to this recent WSJ article: Manufacturers Get Top Talent for Hard-to-Fill Jobs

By the numbers...

Able Body put 125K ppl to work last year + Phoenix' Nationwide Series race avg's >1.5mm viewers on espn2 alone + unemployment @ 9.4%

ABL's target demographics and those of NASCAR align themselves very well we are told (whether this is a good or bad thing for the general sponsor population may be another story). According to Old Dominion Speedway's NASCAR demographics, 72% of NASCAR fans are "employed full time."

An insider on the deal told us that ABL plans to leverage the deal on-site, in stores and with their sales team with a major b-to-b and internal component (i.e. regional viewing parties). ABL also plans to incorporate social media into its activation plans. Staffing services firm, Adecco, also has been in the news recently with renewal of their USOC sponsorship, which is similar to Home Depot's groundbreaking Olympic Job Opportunity Program.

Here's a few other up categories for a down economy:

  • Car Repair (i.e. Autozone & Advance)
  • Personal Care Clinics
  • Accounting Firms
  • Specialty Schools
  • Fast Food
  • Home Repair
  • Home Entertainment
  • And finally, while many sectors in general are cutting spending, individual companies within those sectors may be using the downturn to enhance morale, show industry leadership and better position themselves for the rebound.

    Before diving in head first with up sectors in a down economy, a note of caution: playing with categories can be a dangerous game. You have to put in A LOT of homework (beyond what you may already be doing to research the company's business strategy). For instance, in this case while The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows a nearly 5 percent decrease in sales figures for the temporary staffing industry, much of this may be disproportionately attributed to the financials, advertising and real estate industries while other sectors like manufacturing and healthcare seem to be doing much better. Further, what's hot now may not last and just like the market you could end up with a highly volatile, high beta sponsor portfolio. The same rules to building partnerships apply.

    Have you found success by focusing on new categories? If so, which ones? Has the economy changed your sales strategy? Discuss!