Moving Forward With Your Sport Partnerships

By: Justin Baldwin

The beauty is in the buildout. Sports partnerships make the things we love happen as fans, but they are admittedly in a tough place right now. As we see dark times around us, we should start to look at the light at the end of the tunnel. Where we see brands struggling in the new environment that we live in, members at the team and league level are working to still find new ways to work with current partners. It’s time we start planning for the positive in our day to day.  

Partnerships in sports are a relationship business. It takes time to develop those relationships, the ideas, the proposals and the approvals for a partnership. It takes time to solidify the foundation of the partnership and then go forth and execute on that partnership. It is crucial that all parties involved in the partnership are properly executing on it so that nothing falls through the cracks and, more importantly, all parties are taking advantage of the partnership assets. If everything goes well, then the relationship continues to grow. Partnerships shouldn’t be set up on a year to year basis. They should be built for the long haul. Where they continue to grow and expand as ROI goals are met. Given the times, a lot of people in the sports industry are asking what is our plan now? Brands are shifting dollars to support the ongoing pandemic as sports aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the priority right now. So, what can teams do in their partnerships given the times?

It’s time to start being proactive and planning for the return of sport. We will get through this and right now, we need to be thinking about how to innovate given the times. When you’re thinking of having conversations with your current partners, the first thought should always be how are you. Understanding and being empathetic towards their current situation will be key to sustaining and continuing to build the relationship. As an internal team, you should be thinking of ways to change partnerships given the “new” normal. An important question to ask is: How can you help those in need in the immediate and then how can you celebrate the community right now and when we get to through this? Those are the questions you should be answering internally right now. Be proactive towards current partners and share ideas that can benefit the community to those that have the capability to help and want to. Remembering these tough times, but also celebrating those community workers in healthcare that are the heroes working through all of this. Build a platform to bring to partners that will help small businesses or give children stuck in doors something fun to do. Some properties have already started to do things like this. Minor League Baseball created the “at Home Opener” and the Washington Nationals partnered with the World Central Kitchen to feed those in need by converting their ballpark into a food production and distribution facility.  

These are the ideas we need to be working through and thinking about right now, so we are prepared for the return of sport. Sports has always found ways to unite people in tough times– and we know sports is often the first to bounce back in hard times. The examples above are just a few ways to work with current partners and how to adjust your partnership assets for the better of the community you’re in. Bring some positivity to everyone’s day to day and it will pay dividends in the long run when we all come out of the other side.

At 4FRONT, we’re always here to help. Our team would be happy to jump on a brief call to talk through any potential way you can create a cause for change in your greater community. In times like this, we all need to lean on each other, so please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Justin Baldwin, 4FRONT Senior Manager of Partnerships • Justin@Team4FRONT.com.

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