The Olympic Sponsorships

Congratulations to all the Canadian athletes who did such a wonderful job in Sochi. I am proud to be a Canadian and even more proud to have watched our Canadian heroes over the past 17 days strive for gold, work hard to do their best, and succeed. Many did not make the podium, but they too are heroes in my mind. They have achieved a pinnacle of athletic and character success that most of us will never achieve. I salute every one of the 220+ Canadian athletes who made me proud over the past few weeks.

Now the journey to 2018 begins. It begins not only for the athletes with their training for the next Olympics, but also for the sponsorship team, if that sport has one. However, many will neglect to worry about sponsorship today. They will wait until 2017 and then complain that corporate Canada has failed them. They will say that sponsors are not helping as they “should.” Well, I believe that you get what you deserve. Now, I am not talking about the big Canadian or IOC top tier sponsorship levels. I am talking about the grassroots sponsorships-the NSO, PSO, and individual sport organization sponsorships. This does not apply only to the sport organizations. I see this happening all the time at charity and non-profit organizations, municipalities, and other sponsorship selling organizations. They fail to service their sponsors!

These organizations think that, if they make sure the banner is hung, the logo is displayed, or there is room made for the sampling station at the event, their job is done. The biggest error that I see causing sponsorship programs to fail is not investing in infrastructure. When a sport team or charity obtains a sponsorship, let’s call it $50,000 a year for five years, it tends to spend it right away. And it spends all of it on its direct mission. It all goes to athlete development, athlete programming, for new programs at the homeless charity to help the clients, more research to find the cure, or to the recreation centre for that new set of basketballs. All of it goes to the mission itself. Nothing is carved out to continue growing or even maintaining the sponsorship. It is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. All successful people of substantial wealth who earned their money through hard work, and careful spending and saving know that one road to riches is ensuring that, out of every pay check, a portion (10 or 15%) goes into savings. This is put away no matter what. That is how one becomes finically secure in the long run. 

But what do many organizations do when they hit the mother lode? They spend like drunken sailors and allocate nothing to their sponsorship departments-no additional revenue for professional development of their sponsorship folks to hone their skills and generate more revenue at less cost, no additional staff support to generate even more money, no money to determine the value of their assets or even what they have to sell so to generate more revenue, no sponsor summit to provide additional value to sponsors so they know that they are a valued part of the organization beyond the annual invoice, and finally, no money spent on sponsors in fulfilment or activation beyond the event itself. No, these organizations have artistic directors, athlete program managers, or client advisors who quickly grab all that income, allocate it to the mission, and then cry for more money or blame the corporate entities in a few years when the well has run dry. How can you expect to keep a sponsor who is your partner when the partnership is not real; when all you do is grab the money and run, then come back when the money is gone? If you don’t invest a portion of every sponsorship deal in the infrastructure of your revenue generation department, don’t expect to succeed in the long run.  

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback. 

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