Aug 05, 2009 at 05:39 PM
written by Michael Munson

Rising Tides Lift All Boats… Even in Sponsorship Marketing

As SponsorPitch introduces a new and improved platform this week, it seemed appropriate to look into the whole concept of information sharing in the sponsorship marketplace. After thinking about it, is there another industry that is less open with information? OK, I’ll give you the National Football League, and the Central Intelligence Agency, and maybe KFC’s guarding of the Colonel’s Secret Recipe, but after that?

Let’s face it. There are no standard techniques for leveraging sponsorship assets or quantifying results from sponsorship investments. In fact, the hottest topic in sponsorship is universally “how do I measure it?” Perhaps not surprisingly, a veteran marketer on the brand side even suggested that the reason there is so much secrecy is precisely because there are so few answers about how to make it work. As if finding something that works is like the Holy Grail. As if sharing it with a competitor, will make them impervious to anything and power them into a juggernaut that will crush your organization. Yes, it is silly.

I’m a big football fan. So let me give a football analogy. I can have the greatest plays ever devised, but if my offensive line is poor, my quarterback inconsistent, my running backs slow and fumble-prone, and my receivers have hands of stone, it doesn’t matter how great my plays are. And so it doesn’t what your marketing plans are. You still have to have the talent to execute. Moreover, even if competitors improve, one still must compete, and why wouldn’t one want to be pushed to be better? Is being forced to perform and deliver tangible results such a bad thing?

But I digress… Even if we as an industry in large part continue to be secretive, isn’t there some amount of information we can share with each other that will help all of us? We can’t realize better methods of sharing and producing information unless there is willingness on your part to share and request it. If there isn’t, why are you here? Seriously, you aren’t going to make your job easier and be able to really make a difference in your job unless you share what you know.

You don’t have all the answers. Other people have information that will help you. But it won’t be available to you unless you share what you have. You have to be the first one. Then, when you share, others will follow suit, and you will begin to reap the rewards of your sharing. Sharing information is the currency of getting more in the times in which we live. And everyone needs more valuable information to improve decision-making.

Properties: you have lots of information you could share with each other about what you learn from the different brands and agencies you are talking with as you slog your way through cold calls, research, proposal production, and pitches. Why not share it. You guys have so much power if you all organized together, instead of going it alone. You have the potential to improve the quality of pitches all sponsors see. Why wouldn’t you want your proposal or property to be taken more seriously because more brands are getting better proposals as a result of more information being shared among properties?

Sponsors: you’ve got tons of sponsorship investments out there that you are activating and measuring. But nobody knows what is working and what isn’t. We read all these press releases and stories about this company doing some deal with that property, and maybe some deal terms. Look no further than the NFL deal with P&G as an example, it’s even a post on this website (link). But we never tally up all those deals and figure out who is converting them and how they are converting them into meaningful results. Absent that, how do we know what works and doesn’t work, so everyone in the industry can improve? If everyone improves, doesn’t that lift the profile of sponsorship marketing as a whole, and doesn’t that then help everyone brands trying to justify sponsorship spending? Why wouldn’t you want that?

We can continue working in isolation, holding information as close to our vests as a winning hand in The World Series of Poker finals, in a questionable exercise to preserve the status quo. Or, we could choose to share some information with our peers, and let the rising tide of better information for all, lift all of our boats.

As usual, it’s up to you.

Mike can be reached by email at and on Twitter at @mjmunson.

photo credit: GaryKnight via Flickr