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By Brian Gainor, 4FRONT Vice President of Innovation
In frequent conversations with sports business executives, we often get asked about emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities that teams and leagues are encountering around the world.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of organizations seeking help in renewing and growing their top partnerships and delivering “a pitch of a lifetime” heading into key renewal years.
In today’s blog post, we wanted to outline “what’s happening in the marketplace” and how teams and leagues can develop a best-in-class approach to renewing, growing, and maximizing their partnerships.
What’s Happening: The Stakes Have Changed
With limited time and resources, Partnerships Teams are facing increasing pressure from their organization and corporate partners to deliver BIG results.
Internal “Organizational” Pressure:
• “Renew and maximize key partners in traditional & non-traditional categories”
• “Increase revenue from existing inventory/assets; create new, sellable platforms”
• “Get corporate partners to help fund new ventures (esports, marketing platforms, etc.)”
• “Collaborate better cross-departmentally to deliver new partner solutions”
• “Value and measure partnership impact, lift, and performance”
External Pressure from Corporate Partners:
• “Deliver specific fan audience segments (which can be measured)”
• “Create new, ownable platforms that can be scaled in, at, near, and away from the stadium”
• “Inject new, “fresh ideas” and energy into the partnership”
• “Prove how the partnership is driving true business impact”
• “Develop new opportunities to drive breakthrough media exposure”
A Best-in-Class Approach to Renewing, Growing, & Maximizing Your Key Partnerships
1. Start Early. Craft a plan to value, measure, and invest in your partnerships beginning in Year 1 of the relationship (do not wait until renewal year). What can you do and deliver better than anyone else?
2. Think Like a Brand. Align your partnership around mission/vision/values vs. brand objectives (which can change quarterly). Understand how your partner makes money, which fan audiences they are looking to target, and what will get them promoted.
3. Begin With the End in Mind. Understand “what does success look like”? What are the headlines your partner would love to generate? What media outlets would they love to be featured in?
4. Quantify Total Partnership Value. Make sure you’re “getting credit” for all the value your partnership delivers beyond just the value of signage and hospitality assets. Calculate the business value you’re generating by creating new customers, B2B and business spend-back opportunities, employee value, retail and licensing programs, earned media value, and more!
5. Think Like a Fan. Proactively identify and present new, creative ways your partner can reach and engage with their target audience. What are “win-win-win” opportunities you can create together that benefit the fans, the organization, and your partner?
6. Deliver Partnership Solutions (vs. Assets) – Gone are the days where partners are looking to “buy more stuff”. What are new platforms, “ownable” moments, and ideas you can create that your partner will get excited about?
7. Invest in Measuring the Value, Impact & Lift Your Partnership is Delivering. Don’t rely on partners to renew and grow their investments based on a “gut feeling”. Invest in partnership impact studies (pre/post-season) and partnership valuations to showcase how your partnership is performing – beginning in Year 1!
Webinar on Partnership Renewals
On September 24, join Brian and 4FRONT for a webinar on partnership renewals and how you can effectively renew, maximize, and grow the relationship with your partners. Begin your journey to better partnerships here!