The Miramar Air Show takes place in San Diego each October. It has about 700,000 attendees over the three-day event. This is a huge number by any standard but I have seen events of this size fail at sponsorship. The sponsorship lessons to be learned, though, apply to both large and small events. You need to be creative and think “consumer engagement” when you are dealing in sponsorship marketing. This is where a sponsorship investment can outperform any other form of marketing.
Often, sponsors just hang their banners and figure that all is done. Sometimes they even get really excited when they have product displayed on site. We see this behaviour a lot from vehicle manufacturers and sales organizations. They place a pretty car or RV in a lobby and expect it to sell! This may build curiosity and drive some interested parties to a dealer to see and test drive, but that is a stretch. At the Miramar Air Show, Can-Am Spider (a recreation vehicle company) did great. They took this process one step farther understanding that people don’t buy RVs (or trucks or cars for that matter) based on looks alone. They need to test drive. So they allowed test drives at a Ride and Drive Station on the air show grounds between flight displays. In three days, over 500 people did a test drive of the Spyder RV. Now, that beats any “in dealership” test drive program in a month!
Last November at the Canadian Western Agribition, their sponsor FORD did the same thing. They have been doing it for several years. Agribition has the space and FORD knows ranchers need to test drive a truck before they will consider buying it. What a great activation program associated with a sponsorship.
Sponsors and properties need to think outside the box. In my mind, test drives are just “sampling,” but way bigger. Engage the constituents and patrons of the property you are sponsoring. Get them to interact with you. Touch, feel and hold them. Then you will own them. But for sponsors who think hanging a banner is all you need to do, may their pockets be deep! For properties that fail to be open-minded to brand activation ideas, may your pockets also be deep!
Groups that fail to see the importance of engaging participants will not have deep pockets for long in today’s world.
These are just one person’s thoughts. What do you think?