How much did your franchisees spend on community sponsorships last year? Besides the feel-good benefit, what kind of return did that investment generate for your local franchisees and your franchise brand overall? How many of those sponsorships will your franchisees reinvest in again in 2018, and why? If you are struggling to answer any of these questions with some level of specificity, it may be time to rethink how your franchise supports local community sponsorships—from strategy to budget management, execution, and results measurement.
Sponsorships offer a powerful way for your local franchisees to build relationships and visibility in the communities your brand serves. Sponsorships are effective because supporting local sports teams, charitable causes, the arts, and other cultural organizations puts your brand in front of the customers and prospects you most want to reach locally.
Of course, the value of community sponsorships is not news to marketers. In North America alone, sponsorship spending is projected to increase 4.1 percent in 2017, growing from $22.3 billion in 2016 to $23.2 billion this year (source: IEG).
While we all can appreciate the upside of local sponsorships, not every sponsorship dollar is well spent. For multi-location franchise businesses, local sponsorships can present a number of challenges. These can include lack of a clear strategy or budget oversight, improper representation of the franchise brand, or underestimating resources needed for execution. These sorts of missteps can undermine your organization’s ability to achieve the full potential of community sponsorships.
So how do you support your franchisees in their sponsorship efforts and ensure their investment in sponsorships is well placed in terms of the ability to generate desired results? Further, how do you ensure you can support local sponsorships in a way that makes sense from both an economic and feasibility standpoint?
Here are some recommendations for overcoming common sponsorship challenges so you can support your local marketing teams in executing effective community sponsorships.
There are some basic reasons that community sponsorships fall short of expectations. Sometimes the relationship simply doesn’t make sense strategically, like a fast food franchise sponsoring a charitable walk for diabetes research. Other sponsorships are entered into by local representatives who commit to a partnership without a valid strategy or objective. They may have a personal connection to an organization, but it’s not an appropriate fit for your brand. Others may choose to fulfill sponsorship opportunities by using home-grown materials that are not brand compliant.
Help franchisees avoid investing in pointless and brand-eroding opportunities by providing recommendations for your local marketing teams on the types of sponsorship categories that can generate the best results. It’s important to communicate with your local representatives about choosing sponsorship opportunities wisely, considering appropriate resources, and defining measures of success.
Among the ways you can help local franchisees develop effective community sponsorship programs are:
Once you are in sync regarding the right types of sponsorships, it’s a matter of executing wisely. Prevent “rogue” activity by creating processes and compliant, templated materials that franchisees can easily customize, such as flyers, promotional items, logos, and advertisements that can quickly and cost-effectively be resized for community newspapers, event programs, newsletters, and websites. Keep processes simple for easy execution by local staff and be sure to involve them in the process. And always track what you and your local teams are doing. Data from past sponsorships can help support future decisions.
If you really want to up the ROI on community sponsorships you have to commit to being more than just the “official partner” of an event or organization. Encourage your franchisees to find ways to engage supporters to build more meaningful relationships. Consider partnering with organizations that offer opportunities for long-term involvement. And don’t miss out on ways to integrate the sponsorship with other communication channels.
Engage your local franchisees on more thoughtful and automated management of community sponsorships. They will be better positioned and motivated to engage with their local communities, which will lead to a greater overall success of sponsorship programs.
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