A new year is upon us. I am not as big on resolutions as I am for planning. I look at each New Year as an opportunity to plan for the next 12 months. I think it is critical that we understand what is in store for us in the next 12 months, and plan and adapt accordingly. Here are my thoughts around the hot buttons for 2018 and how to plan.
The Top Four Topics for 2018
- Even more rapid shift in sponsors’ dollars from rights fees to activation
Over the past few years, we have seen and heard about the shift of sponsors understanding the need to better activate. Those that have invested as such have seen the exponential return on their investments because of planned strategic and effective activation programs. But budgets are not growing, and the dollars have to come from somewhere. Sometimes it is redirected funds out of traditional media or even digital, but most often, sponsors are transferring rights fee dollars into activation. The question arises, and we are working with property clients on this, how to manage those falling rights fees and leverage activation dollars. This is critical to long-term success. 2018 will be a pivotal year for many properties in this area.
- Further need for education and professional development
There continues to be a cry across the country for better and more professional development. This includes better delivery of short-term training through member associations such as SMCC and AFP. The message we are hearing and the shift we are seeing is for more regional and localized training in markets outside Toronto. We believe we will begin to see much-needed regionalized training and professional development. We are also hopeful that there will be some leadership in 2018 by SMCC or perhaps the CMA around accreditation programs. We are already seeing post-secondary institutions grow this area of professional development around sponsorship into their curriculums in business, event management, sport management, and fund raising. It will really grow in 2018. The membership associations may be left on the sidelines if they are not onboard and part of the solution to industry needs.
- Continued growth of the municipal and post-secondary sectors
These two sectors have continued to be the quiet revolution in our industry. Municipalities are the fastest growing of all. More and more cities and towns (large and small) are getting into this game of sponsorship. They have been in it for years off the corner of a desk, but now they see the huge dollars available to them. They are creating sponsorship departments, conducting inventory asset valuations, and shifting from external naming rights sales to in-house sponsorship programs and solutions. The millions of dollars available to them are being slowly and silently amassed, and before we know it, they may rival sport as the leader of revenue by a sector.
Likewise, but at a slower pace, post-secondary continues to growth in the silent background. Well-attuned and savvy advancement departments are seeing this additional revenue stream. They have figured out that this sponsorship revenue potential does not just belong to athletics, but to every faculty. Furthermore, they see this as a massive addition to their coffers beyond philanthropic gifts. 2018 will possibly prove to be a breakout year for both municipalities and post-secondary.
- Exponential technology growth
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. There will continue to be big growth on both the sponsor and property sides around technology. This includes large investments in digital and social, as well as mobile. But perhaps the greatest percentage growth will be in the access and usage of data, and understanding the customers and fans. In 2018, we are going to see big growth in the use of quant technology in sponsorship along with predictive analysis of data. This means using such data for focusing on targeted activations and sponsorships for specific audiences and groups within a target demographic, as well as such access to targeting the right sponsors and subscribers with scientific predictive targeting. Watch for this growth in 2018!
I know there will be others, but I think you need to keep your sights set on these four areas as they will be trending in 2018. That means they will affect your bottom line—and no one wants surprises that negatively affect their bottom line! If you have others you feel will be at the forefront in 2018, please feel free to share them.
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