Formulating an International Sponsorship Strategy

By: Billy Nayden

With the increased globalization of the sports world and the interconnected nature of viewing experiences across the world, international sponsorship opportunities have become a heightened focus for sports organizations. At 4FRONT, we have helped U.S.-based teams and leagues with international strategies to breakthrough in different parts of the world in addition to assisting international properties from Australia, New Zealand & Ireland (just to name a few) breakthrough in the U.S.

We have worked with teams and leagues across the sports landscape strategize and synthesize the manifestation of an international sponsorship strategy, outlining each step, from prospecting to activation. This type of planning can happen at any time, even during our current situation, and can set up teams to “hit the ground running” when sports return and sponsors are once again ready to engage in meaningful business conversations with sports organizations.

There’s No Bad Time to Start the Journey

As with all good business processes, the journey of international sponsorship begins with understanding the information at your disposal. 4FRONT has developed a systematic method of identifying and ingesting the data available to a particular team and merging it with secondary research available from verified sources. We run this data through our proprietary prospect scoring algorithm to establish the markets, categories, and prospects that will most likely lead to success.

Phase I: Expedition Launch & Setting the Itinerary for What Lies Ahead

Initially, this process starts with our team putting on their explorer hats and scouring the globe in search of the perfect market for a particular team or league. This is an exceptionally comprehensive process, as our team builds a diverse portfolio of nations and regions that we believe could best support the sponsorship deal based on the team or leagues desires. Additionally, we leverage the geographical, economic and cultural characteristics of a given team or league to build connections between cultures, thus establishing the similarities of a particular team or league to an international market with companies ripe for sponsorship opportunity.

Phase II: Set Sail for Research Deep Dives & Sponsorship Discovery

Following the initial discovery and decision on potential markets, our team next cross-references our research with the top industries in each of the selected markets, as well as a team’s open sponsorships to determine where to focus our efforts from an industry perspective. We marry this information with a third-party analysis of fans in these markets, searching for alignments between industries across all available consideration criteria. This helps ensure our proposed partnerships have the highest chance of success, as all interests are hypothetically aligned between the team and potential sponsor.

Phase III: X Marks the Spot: Industry & Prospect Identification

Armed with this information, our team can present a comprehensive look at a particular industry in an international market, bestowing teams with the ability to have an informed conversation with prospects in those countries. Additionally, our team will present a list of potential prospects, based on a scoring methodology we developed to measure the expected success of a partnership. This helps focus an organization’s efforts in international sponsorship, as 4FRONT provides the informational entry-point to productive conversations with potential sponsors. Oftentimes, with a relatively nascent process like international sponsorship strategy, teams can struggle to find a starting point, but our team’s proven methodology allows us to supercharge the process and ultimately help teams identify where to look for their next deal.

Phase IV: Setting Sights for the Path Ahead

Finally, our team develops a roadmap of potential platforms & activations within a particular market, category or with a particular company and develops partnership storytelling decks to bring the potential partnership to life. This helps humanize the potential sponsorship deal and can provide the storytelling necessarily to facilitate a signed deal. Activations make sponsorship real for companies, and the international space is no different. For many international companies, the idea of their logo in an NBA arena or NFL stadium is nothing more than a dream, but presenting potential activations can effectively demonstrate just how real that dream can become.


Each step in this comprehensive process helps build the foundation for an international sponsorship strategy. While new initiatives can be daunting, especially in sports organizations where sales professionals are often swamped with a variety of responsibilities, 4FRONT and our team of experts is here to help. Even in difficult business climates like the one we currently face, our team at 4FRONT has the diverse skill set and capability to work hand in hand with sports organizations to plan for a new stream of revenue.

For more information on revenue beyond borders, please contact us today and check out our work with the NBA in this space.

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