Marketing Our Sport and Your Team Through Sponsorship by David Jessey (1998)


Introduction: I welcome you today to what we are hoping is a great presentation on marketing our sport and your team through sponsorship. I know that we all need to become better and better at that. We are all in need of trying to find ways to help our program grow certainly in this area. We have a gentleman here with us today by the name of David Jessey. He is the Director of Development for Raycom Sports, which you have probably all heard of. Raycom has been the leader in developing and creating marketing and sports marketing programming throughout our country for years. David is the corporate sales specialist. He is going to tell us a little bit about Raycom and what he does for Raycom.  Let’s give David a nice warm welcome.


Jessey: My background very quickly, I have been in the sports business for about five years.


Sponsorship gives a company the opportunity to get up close  to people and to do something that maybe the competitor can’t. They get the exclusive deal. If you are dealing with sponsorship for your team for an event, whenever you can do an exclusive deal that is what companies are going to want to be exclusive with you and your team.


The goal of sponsorship: enhance perception, stimulate desire demand, generate awareness and recognition, increase sales, inform the public and introduce new products.


Why companies sponsor: change consumer attitudes, differentiate product from competitor.


Entertain clients VIP opportunities. If you are doing anything that there is going to be a crowd and you’re selling tickets or even if you’re not selling tickets where you can have a special area. This is one of the cheapest things that you can do. One of the businesses that does sports marketing, the league that does it better than any other league is NASCAR. I am not a big NASCAR fan but I respect the heck out of NASCAR. They treat their fans well. They show up at grocery stores and they do a lot of things. But if you ever go to a city where there is a NASCAR race people are so proud to have the credentials to get into the pit or whatever. Vice Presidents, people who own businesses, people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hollywood people, they love to have VIP to all access. Credentials are one of the neat things that you could do. Always look for opportunities to do VIP stuff.


It is a special section. At running events we do a little tent at the finish line. When you are doing a ball game it is easy to have the best seats there or a tent or special seating. But do that all the time, it is cheap to do credentials. You can copy them, put them around their necks and people will love it.

Merchandising Opportunities. I go back to like a Snack Wells. That is something when I am doing races, I can always get people that want a sample. You might not get a lot of money from them, but they will give you a ton of product. I have a guy with Nabisco, I don’t care how many times that I call him he will ask me how many cookies I want. That is only worth so much to me to get a lot of cookies. But when you are doing a marathon and you’ve got 12,000 people, he can feed 12,000 people with those cookies. They’ll end up not giving me very much money, but it is something that will make your event better.


Combat larger ad budgets of competitors. Gatorade and Power Bars are two great examples. Gatorade they cannot go against PowerAde on a straight budget of Coca-Cola. You’re seeing them now doing a lot of TV ads and all but when they started  it was just being at events. Power Bar I don’t know how big Power Bar is in swimming, in running they are very big. They are just guerrilla marketers. They will show up, pay a few grand and again give you as much product as you want. But they can’t go on TV. You will not see many Power Bar ads. If you have someone in your local community, and a good example is hospitals, in a city like Charlotte, there is a huge hospital and then there is a second and third tier. The huge hospital will be the NFL sponsor and the NBA sponsor and they give them a few million dollars. The other hospitals, (if you are in a bigger city you can have a fourth, fifth and sixth tier) they can’t afford to be at that NFL game, they can’t give a million dollars. So that is when you have something like a swim meet, a running race, college football game or something at a smaller level. They can come in and give $20,000 or $30,000 maybe less, but they can’t go against them on straight ad budget. So sponsorship is the way for companies like that to go.


So I would have you think of companies in your communities that are doing good business and they need to get the word out, but on straight ad dollars they can’t be all over the place. Those are great people to hit up for sponsorship money.


High consumer acceptance implied altruism. Again I will go back to the NASCAR example, but it is good in swimming or any other sport. By a company sponsoring something and that company might want to get the same things out of it as an ad in the paper, but by sponsoring your event there is an implied altruism oh look they are helping to bring this meet to town; they are helping to support youth being healthy. They might not do it for any altruistic reasons, but it is implied. NASCAR is the number one most loyal sport that is why they can’t put enough stickers on those cars. They have told corporate America that our people will buy your product. If they have Tide on the side of the car, people will buy tide that are NASCAR fans. One of the reasons is that the NASCAR fan when they do research thinks that that car is not going to be around if Tide is not sponsoring it. Or the NFL can’t get people to think, well if Gatorade is not sponsoring the Bears, they are still going to be around. But NASCAR has done a good job of that. Implied altruism is really true and is a good point to go after when you are dealing with something like swimming, or running, or biking that is healthy. It is just a nice thing for the community, so there is a nice feeling there.


Audience composition and reach. Here is something, I know nothing about swimming but that audience I see in swimming is an upper end audience. It is probably white, upper class, upper middle class, country club, I own the BMW dealership or the Cadillac dealership you know whatever the target is. I may not have your market down exactly, but who wants to reach that audience? Targeting is getting tighter and tighter. That is why the X games, the sponsors are lining up for the X games because they have found a way to get to the teenage boy, and boom they are going after it. You have a great target audience, you have to figure out what it is and what companies want that audience.


Why companies sponsor media coverage. And it doesn’t have to be straight you’re buying ads or whatever, but get the press out. Send them a T-shirt, show up at the station, get the press out so you can cut out those articles and show it to the people next year. And you really got to work to get them to say your sponsors name. We have a deal in Charlotte, we say get it the first mention. Most sports writers will go by that and get it the first mention, everything after that is cake if you get them to keep saying ‘the Toyota whatever’. They will say it the first time, they will say the winner was, but you have to work the media coverage. That is free, just getting them on the phone and having press releases is one of the easiest things to do to help your sponsors and help your event.


Who are ideal sponsors? Companies that support your mission. People who like what you are doing.  Companies that  will leverage your event companies, who if you got $5,000 or $10,000 or whatever their investment is will look at it as that is my initial investment. Most decent size companies or strong smaller companies will say it doesn’t end with just giving them money. NationsBank for example figures on 50%, that if they had a $50,000 investment that they are probably going to put in

$25,000 leveraging it. That is why if you can get the big companies that actually have sports marketing departments they go by things like that a little bit more. I had a bagel place do a race in Kansas last year where he was giving us 10,000 bagels. It was just a nice trade deal, but one he made that, this guy was smart enough to know. He showed up and had his staff to give out the bagels and he did a bunch of other things for the race. We had Good Morning America show up and did a little clip the day before the race and he fed them. He did all those little things in his investment and he got a lot more out of it because he did that. But companies that will spend a little bit of money. If the sponsor shift fee is all that the sponsor will provide that’s great, I’ll take money and I’ll take trade or whatever. But the best sponsors are those guys who will leverage they have an investment and now how do I really make it go.


What are some leveraging activities? And some companies won’t know. If it is a $1,000 sponsorship or whatever it is, you might need to help them leverage their investment. Here are some of the ways you can leverage it. Consumer sale overlay a ticket discount with a visit or purchase. If you can get them (a grocery store is a good example) to put your event in their weekly ad in that is in the Sunday paper or the Wednesday paper to put a little thing in there and you get a discount when you show up. If there is a swim meet in town or whatever it is that helps them leverage, hey they have an investment. And it also helps you get the word out. Provide distribution points for brochures, flyers, etc. Again if you are talking about a drug store or a grocery store who you can give 100 posters and they can get them out to their 100 stores cause they usually have a good network to get that out and you don’t have to go to 100 places. Again they are leveraging their investment and they are making your event better.


Premium item giveaways. NationsBank at one our races in Charlotte two years ago was the title sponsor of the 10K. It only cost them $25,000 I think. They spent $20,000 and every single person who ran got a pair of gloves. That made our event better that every single person got one of these. In that case they were a great sponsor. Then the year after, they said well we don’t want to do the same thing so we will give everybody and exercise towel. This made our event, (we had no budget) made it a lot better.


Inserting mailings. That is very easy for people who are doing billings to put a little thing about your event in their billings. They could be sending out 500 or if it is a utility, just thousands and thousands.


Provide athletes and celebrities professional services. I had a trade deal with Xerox of the Carolinas and they were giving us some money.  But the best thing that they did for us (they’re   an Olympic sponsor) was Frank Shorter through their Olympic sponsorship this is a small investment that they have in a local community run. Frank Shorter was on their payroll to show up 20 times a year. They called up Rochester and asked if Frank’s visits were all used up as a Xerox Golden Olympian. They said there were three left. He came and spoke at our luncheon. We had no budget to pay Frank Shorter $5,000 and fly them in. So that is a great thing you can do if you have a company like that. Or if they have professional services that they can do for you that will come off your budget.


Provide volunteers. Places like the YMCA who want to get their word out, but don’t want to spend very much money can provides hundreds of volunteers for event. If you do big events you know that volunteers are tough to get. So to get good volunteers is a good deal. For golf tournaments it takes about 1,000 volunteers.


Cross promotions with co-sponsors. Media tie-ins, tie existing ads. If these companies are doing other advertising push them  to put your event logo on that advertising that they are doing. It helps them leverage and it is also promoting your event.


Who are ideal sponsors. Companies that are industry leaders or power brokers in the sport region. Once you get one of those big guys on then it gives a little pinnate to your event. It makes it easier to sell one of the other deals. If you can tie in with them early on that is good. I would imagine that once you get a company like Speedo on (and I would imagine it would be hard to get money out of them) that would be good. The U.S. open golf tournament is going to have a fan event next year and Nike is going to be the title sponsor. Our volunteers are going to be cooler when they have those swoosh on their shirts and other gear and we are going to be selling more shirts.


How to put together an effective proposal in writing. If you want money, if you want trade for anything, this is what companies will get the most upset about. If you call and they might be a friend of the swim team or have a child that is on the team. If you call a company, you would say I would like you to look at this opportunity to sponsor this event and I am going to put it the mail to you, or fax to you, or send overnight to you a proposal. It is just a trade deal, it is two pages and here is something about the benefits that you’re going to get ad here is what we want out of it. But be professional and put it in writing. It does not have to be a big deal. That is the number one complaint at companies when you call on them. If they have a sports’ marketing department or a marketing department they are getting called on by everybody. So you’re putting yourself ahead of that a little bit by putting    it in writing. You want an overview, the history of the event, a cover letter. You want to be concise in all this stuff because they are not going to look at a 20-page deal. Demographic that. A schedule of events, when it is going to happen, and the benefits you want to list all the benefits. And I will show you a sample one. The media exposure, you’re going to be exclusive, etc. You’ll want to know exactly what they will provide. Something like swimming I would put just one picture of you last event, people smiling around the pool. It is a great thing and you want to give them that visual.


Do your research. And this doesn’t have to be spending days and days but what does the sponsor value? What time of year is best for them? One thing I saw this year. I wish I had something to sponsor this weekend. Back to school has become Christmas. The computer companies Gateway has got a half a page in USA Today every day for the last three weeks. Computer companies are just going at each other. And so are the clothing companies who have always done the back to school. But find out. For computer companies back to school is one of the biggest times of year. What new products will they be promoting? You know somebody is coming to town new, a new company or a new product, or they have just redone their place find that out.


Valuing your sponsorship package. A lot of people and I have done this too, I have been forced to do this sometimes, we say it is going to cost us 1.3 million to set up the interactive tent at the US open and then they tell me you have to get 1.3 million in sponsorship. That is not how you value something if you need $50,000 because it is not telling them what value it is to them. You can’t say we need $50,000 that is philanthropy. You say we need your donation to make this happen. The way you want to value it are the benefits offered and you want to build the benefits first.


What I mean by that is if you are doing something, an event, go out and get media partners first. Go out and the first sponsorships you should get are a radio station. If you have any decent size event you should be able to get a radio station no problem. Radio is so competitive that in almost any market you go to you should be able to get a station. You should start with the better radio stations, but they should be easy to get. TV it starts getting much harder to get. The newspaper because these days there is usually only one big newspaper in the city and they kind of own it that is even harder to get. But they like to do community events. They like to do running and fitness types of events. So maybe they can give you ten ¼ page ads. And if that doesn’t work then you can go to the local newspapers, you know those things that come out every Friday of what is happening. Now that is a big drop  in what you are going to get out of that, but it still is something that you can give to companies. You can say that your logo is going to be on this.


Your market size is going to go into what the value is. The reach and the impact how many people are going to your event? How many total people we have 1,000 volunteers, 5,000 participants, in running races, you can always lie like heck. The impact is again where I think is one of your big benefits in swimming. You are going to hit this great target of people that are really into it.


Attendance how many people are there again you are going into your reach. The prestige of the event you put a swimming event in an Olympic year and like the marathon I worked on once it became an Olympic trials event, all of a sudden we got a lot more money. It had a prestige to people that this is with the Olympics. Some of the big companies in town said that this was their chance to get tied into the Olympics.


Market value. Audit similar events and ask them what they are selling. Find out what similar type events are getting for a sponsorship. Also look at who is sponsoring these events. There is a drug store war out there in Charlotte, I don’t know if it is happening in your area, but if it is they are a good people to go after. As you can see in this sample sponsorship proposal, I have already gone out and gotten the radio and TV deals ahead of time. If you do have a radio station to show up at your event I always get the executive or the highest-ranking person that shows up from the company interviewed. And again, it is kind of like that VIP credential thing. People love it even if it is just a sports radio station where only 300 people at one time are listening to it they are on the radio, it is a lot of power, and it is a neat thing to do.


Then you get to the basic things like PA things, and start line and finish lines banners and expo booths. When you have an event there are going to be some people who will want to be there something like a Snack Wells, Gatorade, and Power Bar expo booth type things are an easy benefit to give people. In between the results of a meet you can do a short PA mentioning the sponsor’s name. At the expo booths if you have an announcer they can mention the sponsor’s name. These announcements cost you nothing to do and it gets the sponsor’s name out there.


This would be the cost page. I just pulled two pages out of a six-page proposal. You have your benefits list and here is what we are going to charge you. We are going to charge you $50,000 it is a three-year deal. One of the things I would really promote is do a one-year deal. Don’t try to get people for three years at some high price, do a one-year deal and lock them in. Show them that you are going to do a good job and fulfill all the things you say you are going to in here. Deliver what you promise them, which most events don’t do. Then the next year sign them up for a three-year deal so that you don’t have to hit them up every year if you have an annual event.


Notice that the last two bullets are things that are non-cash that they are doing for the event. They are going to provide four weeks of special display space to feature products so we could sell that to other people. I can make money off the second bullet. The third bullet is to promote the event. They are going to tag the event in their weekly newspaper. So I am getting my event out there and maybe helping the attendance for the event.


Different sponsorship benefits. You are going to be the official sponsor designation. Unless you are something real good like the Carolina Panthers or the Chicago Bears or whatever that is only worth so much. Title to proprietary event within a larger event now that is worth a lot. Smart companies want to own the title to something. So if at your event and you can’t give away the title to it or somebody else has it, then you are going to be the title of the Junior Clinic, you are going to be the title at the Expo.


We talked about the company official being interview on radio and TV broadcasts. If they are going to show up (TV and Radio) on event day, get a few people interview from you big sponsors and they love it. Company representative in the award ceremony

  • have a senior executive show up and be a part of the award ceremony it doesn’t cost you anything. Awards named after the company. Some companies want their names everywhere. We got a special section when we did a trade deal on an event that I did in The paper said that they would do a special section on the weekend of your race. It was part of a trade deal. NationsBank’s name was in there 82 times. I counted it because I wanted to tell them what a great deal I got for you. But before I called them they had counted it and had a memo out to her boss saying we got our name in the newspaper 82 times in that one special section. Plus look at that huge headline. I didn’t have a lot of leverage to get this newspaper this year because NationsBank had always bought advertising from them or the bank before them Bank 4 or Boatmen’s Bank. NationsBank bought them they own an event. I go to these guys and I say wait a second we always got money from NationsBank and we know they need to do the special section. So what we did was cut a deal where I said I will give the newspaper to everyone who runs the race, which in this case was 11,000 people.  We put it in their packet
  • the Friday paper with the special section. We’ll buy that from you at wholesale a newspaper that costs 50-cents, at wholesale is 25-cents. The thing about the newspaper business is as long as they sell it wholesale they get credit for it on their circulation, so they can charge more on advertising. They are always trying to get every extra newspaper sold. So we bought that in a It cost us $2500. I had to buy 11,000 newspapers, but it was an incredible hit. They just put NationsBank everywhere.


You need to have VIP elements is you are going to have events that have many sponsors. Little luncheons and smaller events. Access to your mailing list you may or may not want to do this, but sometimes sponsors like your target market. You need to make sure you are not breaking a lot of rules there but that is something that is worth a lot to a lot of different people. Research opportunity. If you have little surveys for the participants and visitors to fill out that relates to the sponsors. Events give you a good opportunity to do research things. Event goodie bags. Again this blows me away how people get so excited about any cute little thing. Make sure the sponsors get a T-shirt after the event or before the event if you can.


Creating a hit list of potential sponsors. Usually companies that are sponsoring other similar events are good targets. Those are the people I call first. New businesses in your market. Retailers who sell it to their vendors. Companies in competitive situations. Right now Claritin and Allegra they can’t spend their money fast enough. They are making a fortune though, so it is a small percentage. Find out those companies that are in competitive situations, — hospitals, drug stores, and beverages — if you can’t get a soft drink you’re not working very hard at least to trade. Companies that can’t compete on advertising budgets are great trades. Companies that eliminate budget expenses again trade it is much easier getting trade.


How to retain sponsors under promise and over deliver. It is huge. We do a fulfillment chart and if you want to be professional about this you want to find out there hot buttons and know what is important to them. Get them to take part especially when you have community level fitness type things. Have more than one champion at the company. I seem to lose 1/3 my contacts a year because they go to another job and suddenly nobody knows you at that company. If you are getting the people to show up and participate then they know it is a good deal. Make it easy. Marketing people are lazy. We go and pick up their banners. We’ll write their PA and use their slogans. Go pick up the products they are using in the trades. Keep them informed — a calendar of what is happening.  Stay in touch throughout the year.


A sponsor report. Any sponsorship, when it is complete, every single one down to a trade sponsor, we at least fax, but it is a full report. It will show all the newspaper ads, and all of the things that came out of it (videos etc.) Eliminate clutter. Guarantee exclusivity again I can’t stress that enough. Support the sponsor’s business.  If you can educate your people who are going  to your event.


That is basically it.



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