5 Best Practices to Create Loyalty with Corporate Partners

5 Best Practices to Create Loyalty with Corporate Partners
by Lauren Ward – August 2015

Fan loyalty is at the forefront of every team’s objectives.  Loyalty is defined as “having or showing complete and constant support of someone or something.” Teams build loyalty in many ways: social media, events, player appearances and, of course, winning. Season ticket holders are a prime example of fan loyalty. They are the super fans.

Building loyalty with corporate partners presents a bigger challenge. They aren’t the super fans. In fact, they may not live in your city, or state, and could be fans of another team. So the question is: How do you create fan loyalty with corporate partners?

Listen

Listening is important in all aspects of life: school, work, relationships (trust me on this one). When it comes to corporate development, both sales and activation, listening builds the foundation for loyalty. What are your partners telling you? What is important to them? What are they hoping to get out of the partnership? How do they measure ROI? Who is their target audience? At the same time it is equally important for you to ask the right questions to assist in uncovering these answers.

Doug Mraw
Doug Mraw

“Partnerships that stand out are with teams that take the time to understand our needs and the needs of our brands. We work together to create programs in and out of the game day experience and we make sure that our programs make sense for both parties. We are simply not filling a round hole with a square peg.” – Doug Mraw, Anheuser-Busch

Understand their business

In corporate development you are not only working for your team, you are working for your client. Your client’s goals are your goals. Understanding the client’s industry will help you to accomplish this.

Do research on the company and stay up-to-date on industry news. I have found that social media is one of the best ways to stay informed. Follow your client and others in the industry on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about the client as well as be in the forefront of industry news. Is there a platform they are focusing on? For example, how can you build off of State Farm’s “assist” platform? Is there a new product they are pushing in the market? Anheuser-Busch’s big push of their new brand, Montejo is another great example. Understanding their business will help you bring new ideas to the table and make a huge impact on your client.

Creativity

Now for the fun part! Use the information you gathered to come up with creative and unique activations. Be creative and stand out from what other teams are doing to separate you from their other partners. Always be sure to keep their goals and objectives in mind.

Ashley DelValle
Ashley DelValle

“We created a monthly newsletter for one of my biggest clients. We wanted to keep both the client and us as an organization engaged together throughout the season. Recapping their involvement with SSE each month reinforces our commitment to each other’s goals. The newsletter also makes it easy for their company as a whole to be looped in on what they’re doing with us throughout the season.” – Ashley DelValle, Partnership Activation, San Antonio Spurs

Relate

It is easier to sell  and retain clients with whom you have a close relationship. Meet with your clients face to face on a consistent basis. Find out what is important to them personally. Do they have kids? Pets? When are their birthdays? Surprise them by remembering this information. If a birthday is coming up, send gift. Stop by the office with breakfast, cupcakes, or team gear on game days. It will make them feel important and make a big impact! If they aren’t local, call them on their birthdays or mail them gifts. Get creative! Go above and beyond!

ROI

At the end of the day, what your client is looking for is a return on investment. How this is measured will vary on the client. It could be growth in sales, brand awareness, capturing leads, driving traffic to their website, and much more. Customer surveys are a great way to capture this information. Do fans recognize the partner as a sponsor of the team? Are your team’s fans more likely than non-fans to be aware of, consider, buy from, or visit the website of the partner?How does that make the fan feel towards the partner? Are they more likely to recommend to a family member or friend? If you can give your client the return on investment, you’re going to have a good shot at increasing loyalty and building a successful partnership.

5 Great Sponsorship Activation Ideas

5 Great Sponsorship Activation Ideas
by Lynda Carrier-Metz – November 2014

My experience with successful sponsorship activation has been lukewarm:  Like having one foot in a bucket of cold water and the other in boiling hot. Sometimes we hit it out of the park and other times, well, you get the idea.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to ask my friends on the All-Star Sponsorship panel and discussion at the Baylor Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) annual board meeting what has worked well for them. Thanks to Travis Dillon (The Marketing Arm) for moderating the panel!

Activation Insights

1. Integrate the sponsor into the field of play. Matt Brand, Vice President of Partnerships, Houston Astros, explained, “When a hit ball strikes the ‘fowl (foul) poles’ everyone in the stands gets a FREE Chick-fil-A sandwich. This drives traffic and fan excitement!” Another similar example are the foul poles at the Padres’ Petco Park that look like TaylorMade golf drivers. You might even want to hang a Kia automobile over the center of the court like the Texas Legends.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”125px” height=”125px” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ][slideshow_deploy id=’3336′][/dropshadowbox]2. Activate via single channels for impact. Greg Grissom, Vice President of Partnerships, Houston Texans: “We ran a promotion for Sonic through a single social media channel (e.g., Facebook) to drive traffic. Fans following the Texans’ Facebook were aware that if the Texans win on Sunday, Tuesday is “Free Slushy Day” at Sonic. The promotion drives secondary sales through increased traffic.”

I’ve found promotions tied to wins and high scores seems to help motivate the team to play better. So, maybe the teams should pay the sponsor for agreeing to do this!

3. Drive retail with the use of the team’s marks. George Killebrew, Vice President of Partnerships, Dallas Mavericks: “Connecting Dr Pepper, Budweiser or Gatorade to case sales in grocery stores to register to win tickets ties two brands together and drives purchases for both!” Using the team’s logo and likenesses always attracts attention in crowded retail spaces.

4. Leverage community support. Jeanne Garza, Director of Corporate Partnerships, San Antonio Spurs: “One of my favorite activation strategies is actually by Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut leveraged their media buys and the goal of giving back to the community. Each January when customers purchase a pizza a portion goes to support the Spurs Youth Basketball League. Both the team and Pizza Hut promote this and everyone wins!”

And we got one more good example from the floor from Steve Flynn.

5. Test-drive. Steve Flynn, Regional Marketing Manager, General Motors: “We integrate marketing and activation at the World Series, Texas State Fair, and other events to do one thing: Get people to take a seat in a Chevrolet and take a test-drive.” Having a singular activation focus that you know results in converting prospects into customers promises a good return on the investment.

Bonus Activation Idea

So, those five are pretty good. Here’s my favorite activation promotion we run at Pizza Hut.

Borrow and build fan passion. We create excitement and gain tremendous fan engagement with the Pizza Hut, “Delivery of the Game” for football and basketball. We deliver pizzas into the stands and the fans go crazy. It aligns with our delivery service and sampling our great pizza. The more that can be given to a variety of sections the better, not just students or the same section each game!

What other ideas do you have? Click the Twitter button below and let us know @BaylorS3, @PizzaHut, #activation.

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