Associations have observed changes in the types of benefits that attract sponsors to support membership programs. Sponsorship marketing currently makes up nearly one-fourth (22%) of corporate marketing budgets. But the competition for these dollars is greater than ever. With stiffer competition comes increasing demand from corporations to receive greater value for the sponsorship dollars invested.
Association leaders must shift their thinking and strategy when approaching sponsor prospects. To help you improve your message to your potential sponsor, here are trends that impact what sponsors are looking for this year:
1. More-Customized Sponsorship Packages
Today, corporate sponsors are far less accepting of generic sponsorship packages that ask them to fit their marketing to a pre-defined “box.”Instead, many sponsors want your organization to listen to their objectives for the kinds of interactions that matter to their business. Look to understand your sponsor’s business objectives, and develop your opportunities around what you learn.
If you have a standard set of sponsor benefits, you might still be able to use it if you add flexible options. Position it as a foundation with additional opportunities to customize the plan to suit your sponsor’s objectives.
2. Increased Interest in Co-Branded Content
The trend toward publishing branded content is surging upward. About 40% of companies say they will increase their efforts in the coming year to distribute content designed to engage a target audience, rather than sell to them. Branded content takes many forms. Essentially, it is company-published entertainment or information that the target audience enthusiastically shares. In fact, 69% of marketers believe branded-content marketing is more effective than direct mail and PR, and 72% of marketers believe it is more effective than magazine advertising.
Research what information your members find engaging, and consider whether collaborating with a sponsor can improve this experience for your members. A wide range of media can work including newsletters, website content, or live demonstrations or sampling events.
3. Smart Use of Mobile Platforms for Distribution
B2B marketers have long realized that mobile media is highly engaging. The same discovery can help B2B messages reach more business users. It can be a challenge to create a single resource that goes from office desktop to smartphone. For example, detailed slides or infographics may need mobile versions to get your message across on the small screen.
Use responsive technology (tools that adapt to screen size and resolution). Look for way to re-work and re-publish content for mobile devices. For example, re-post your webinar as a slide deck on Slideshare or Scribd. Post a thumbnail or featured image from an infographic or article to Pinterest or Facebook, so that you can be part of your audience’s personalized browsing. Learn what portion of your audience engages with you from mobile devices – data available from Google Analytics or other visit-tracking tools.
4. Social Media Integration
Your association’s social media channels provide another way for your sponsors to reach your members and prospects. Potential sponsors are looking for ways to cost-effectively engage with your members. This means going beyond visibility on banners and logos. Look for opportunities you can give sponsors to link to them or provide a way for them to post information to your audience on channels you manage.
5. Less Focus on Traditional Sponsorship Categories
Structuring sponsorship packages according to gold, silver, and bronze levels is a long-standing tradition. However, there is no evidence that this practice communicates much value to either members or sponsors. Sponsorship levels that give sponsors a meaningful choice of ways to pursue their goals will certainly fare better than this dated sponsorship model.
An overall trend is engagement – help sponsors to interact with their intended audience and in serving their strategic goals. Your efforts will be more appealing to sponsorship funding in 2015 and beyond.
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