The essentials for ensuring your sponsorship program returns healthy or can be revived post-COVID 19 is to ensure you have a plan. In several recent webinars and sessions, I have noted that we need to prepare today for the future. As my friend Justine Fedak pointed out recently through the analogy of a hospital operation, if you have an amputated leg, don’t wait for the patient to come home to adapt your house with a ramp to the door, hospital bed, and accessible washroom. Do it in advance while they are in the hospital recovering. The same goes for your sponsorship program. Today is when you should plan and organize for the return to normalcy, which as noted last week in the TMC, could be anywhere from December 2020 through March 2022.
Here are six suggestions that you might integrate into your planning.
- Look at your past sponsorship program and determine what worked well for partners and what did not. Where did everyone get their best ROI? You will need to talk to your partners to determine this—don’t think you know! Then determine how/if you can continue to deliver those opportunities. Eliminate the things that did not work now—even the sacred cows.
- Look for ways to create touchless engagements for your sponsorship activations, such as virtual registration or delegate bags, using virtual reality for engagement opportunities, paying or accessing booths/contests with a tap of your phone, using augmented reality apps for your own “Pokémon Go” scavenger hunt highlighting sponsors, etc.
- Seek advice from others and understand best practices. Learn what they are doing, what is working, and what is not. Always be communicating and networking. A great opportunity for this is through the WSC Alberta (Edmonton on September 29-30, 2020) and WSC Ontario (Toronto on October 6-7, 2020 and Ottawa on October 20-21, 2020). With dozens of sessions delivered by industry leaders on coping, managing, and forecasting the future around COVID19 and sponsorship, this is the one event you want to attend this fall. Learn about the most up-to-date timelines on recovery, what large and small sponsors are doing now and why. Understand what large and small properties are doing to recover and how you can adapt all this to be strong and successful going forward.
- Know that the process will be gradual and that sponsors you had may no longer be around or may not have budget this year or next. For the latter, see how you can build them into your programs at a lower level of recognition and provide it for free until they can come back on board financially. Be on the lookout for new prospects, but stop thinking about who has money and how much you can get. Shift to seeing how you can help them grow and become prosperous.
- Come to your partners with ideas and solutions for everything from broadcast (live streaming opportunities) to AR, VR, and digitization. Work together to find solutions for sampling and other activations. Be the solution provider, and your partnerships will flourish and last!
- Where you can, register for and participate in the deluge of online content and webinars from different organizations available free of charge through ZOOM and other channels. As we move through the recovery stage, this will provide you with new ideas and best practices. Here is a link to some of our available content; Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists® Video Content on COVID19 Recovery.
Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when you can, stay in touch with others, and stay healthy.
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