So I am taking the pen back this week as part of a TACK10 Sessions event happening this Friday. Industries often find themselves rebranding or repackaging tactics that have started getting a bad wrap. The sponsorship industry, and it has become a massive industry, is no different! Most Agencies, Brands, Causes and Properties are getting on the bandwagon and using the term partnership instead of sponsorship or interchangeably with it. But let’s face it, in many cases, organizations are putting lipstick on a pig.  If you are not fundamentally changing the way you view, approach and manage sponsorships and partnerships, you are missing the real opportunity to maximize return on investment.

“All Sponsorships are part of Partnership, but not all Partnerships include Sponsorship!”

Sponsorship Defined:
Sponsoring something is the act of supporting an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services. The individual or group that provides the support, similar to a benefactor, is known as sponsor.

Partnership Defined:
A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. The partners in a partnership may be individuals, businessesinterest-based organizationsschoolsgovernments or combinations. Organizations may partner to increase the likelihood of each achieving their mission and to amplify their reach.

Sponsorship Is Only 1 Tactic Available Within Partnerships
Every sponsorship is part of a partnership, but not every partnership has to include sponsorship. Sponsorship includes, but is not limited to, rights fees and/or in-kind delivery of product/service in exchange for certain a suite of assets

Who Cares?
Everyone should! I do not care what industry you are in, you should care about the difference and how you can leverage the potential of partnerships. Across industries, geographic boundaries, name the perceived boundaries… Organizations who are leveraging partnerships are out performing those that do not.

Performance Matters
Each of us is tasked to do more with less in today’s competitive environment. As we manage our day to day tactics for our organization working towards our objectives (see: Define Defined; How TACK10 builds a foundation for success (3/6)) we are inevitably creating value for another organization who may not be able to create or have the budget or bandwidth to create that particular value on their own. The second organization may however have value they create that is of great interest to your organization.
So I just made this complex… Let me break it down with a recent experience that we are managing through at TACK10 this week.

Brand A, Brand B, a Cause and a Property
Yes. This example actually ties together 3 of our 4 groups. In sitting down with partners, following my favorite question, “What keeps you up at night!?” I often will ask what the partner has or is prepared to “Give” and what they would like to put out there as an “Ask”. After a few weeks of conversation this is what we heard in this particular opportunity discovery. Limiting the list below to only elements that overlapped and made sense for this partnership

Brand A     
Give:    Have lots of research data, analytics and measurement tools at their disposal
Ask:     Would like help activating with their target audience as the feel they have room for improvement.       

Brand B
Give:    Tend to activate very well given their product is very hands on and would share the spotlight
Ask:     Would like access to research and measurement tools because they do not have budget for it.

Give:    Represent a cause that most Canadians see as mattering to them
Ask:     Need help getting their message to a much larger audience

Give:    Offer a great venue and platform to host activations
Ask:     Want to drive gate revenue because the gate revenue is accompanied with onsite spend

The Perfect Partnership
Now before we celebrate that the stars have aligned, it is important to acknowledge that there was a lot of background work done on behalf of our team to narrow down potential partners. The decision on which partners to engage had to be based on insights we had with regards to objectives of appropriate brands, cause and properties. Additionally the negotiation phase has to ensure that each partner feels that they are investing as much value and receiving as much value as each of the other partners.
This opportunity would see no monetary exchange or in-kind commitments made to acquire a set of rights. Each partner is leveraging an asset they have to support another partner’s objectives in order to have one of their core objectives met by leveraging the assets of another partner. Sounds like a complex win, but it really is coming down to a dedicated group of partners looking for ways to make this work within each of their own complex organizations.

The Final Bell
Sponsorships are an important tactic in any marketing program. It is important to understand that they are simply 1 tactic and that often another tactic within the Partnership umbrella may make more sense. Properties and Causes tend to be the most at fault, most often looking for funds because that tends to be 1 of the biggest things that keeps them up at night. My challenge to you all though is to embrace budget relieving as being as important as cash and to look at what partnerships might deliver increased revenue when activated versus upfront fees. Our experience is that integrated partnerships will outperform sponsorships almost every time when authentically aligned and co-created.



Group President and CEO

Described as a growth agent, James is a modern day game changer known for delivering 10x performance across business, marketing and sales KPIs. As a sought after strategist, James believes and has demonstrated time and again that it is not about growing successful businesses anymore; true success is attained when you challenge and impact an industry as a whole.