Apr 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM
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Sponsorship Drives Results For B2B Marketers

The marketing mix has, for most of us, become decidedly more complex over the last fifteen years. This holds for business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketers alike.

B2B marketers are more active in channels they might have dismissed as ineffective half a generation ago. Professional service and engineering firms, industrial equipment manufacturers, and commercial insurers – all now have sophisticated marketing departments. What might have at one time been a strategy around trade show exhibits, print ads in trade magazines and direct mail has evolved to include all of those plus press relations, digital, social media, sponsorship and other means of marketing their products and services.

None of that is any great surprise. The world evolves and marketers, sellers and buyers evolve to. Or do they?

We have long understood that some consumer purchase decisions are more emotionally driven than others. As science continues to unlock what makes the mind work we now know that in fact most, if not all, consumer purchase decisions are emotively driven. We buy the car because it will make us look cool and then we rationalize the choice for ourselves and for others against fuel economy, crash test results and value.

Sizzle sells steak

There is still the fallacy that B2B purchase decisions are made through rational economics. Research also shows that, along with the added influence of how we as individuals function in a social environment working with others, while a B2B purchase decision tends to be more process driven and has more people involved, in the end most B2B purchase decisions are also emotionally driven. The process of rationalizing against facts and figures is just more elaborate than for the consumer and his car.

Business to business (B2B) marketers are inserting sponsorship into their marketing mix with more frequency, more commitment and better measurement than ever before. Don’t just look at the magnitude of IBM’s commitment to sponsorships as an example but you’ll find law firms, accountancy practices and business consultancies more active as well.

Connect through something they care about

In its essence, B2B sponsorship is about connecting with your clients, prospects and other stakeholders through something they already care about. Attach your enterprise software product to the football team, the symphony orchestra or the literacy counsel and the associative benefits are real.

Hospitality is a key sponsorship asset for B2B marketers, but it’s not everything. Hosting a prospect at an event your company is sponsoring can have a meaningful impact on the relationship you’re nerchering. Giving them access to an experience that your competitor isn’t or can’t certainly plays on your prospect’s opinion of your business and your people.

There are ways of tracking not only the impact on that prospect’s opinion of your business and your people, but there are also ways of tracking the impact that the experience had on conversion, revenue and profitability.

Move beyond hospitality. Think about the power of your product or service being applied to the sponsorship property’s business as a best-practice case study.

Think about the brand equity impact to your professional service firm by being able to demonstrate your brand values through the association with an event with proven high levels of good will.

Provide Access

Move beyond traditional hospitality. If I’m a busy banking executive, I don’t need another invitation to play golf or the offer of tickets to your corporate box at a basketball game. I get those kinds of invitations all the time and frankly, I work 65 hours a week and I’d rather be at home with my family than in your arena suite.

But, get myself, my son and my granddaughter on the hardwood on a Saturday afternoon for a hands-on clinic with three of you the team’s second string players, a hot dog and a pint of Bud Light and I might just love you.

Bring my wife and I to a private intimate dinner inside the exhibit at the art gallery the night before it opens to the public where the exhibit curator is one of the dinner guests and I might just buy.

Ian Malcolm is President of Desperado Marketing, a sponsorship and experiential marketing agency established in 1996 with offices in Toronto and Chicago. He blogs at desperadomarketing.com/blog and allows us to republish here when the subject fits.