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Volume 26 No. 227
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Leaning on Maslow for a new sponsorship framework

Sports and entertainment properties, rights holders and operators are in a unique situation to work with brand partners and reset the basics of sponsorships. Understanding the right mix of assets is crucial to delivering value to all parts of a company. Recognizing these needs must come in advance of selling, managing, or activating any sponsorship. Faced with challenging times to our global industry, properties must listen, innovate and right size packages to optimize current and long-term partner value. Referencing Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs provides a compelling framework for maximizing sponsor value. 

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory and school of thinking that describes the basis and layers of human needs. In a multi-level pyramid, Basic needs must be met, then psychological needs, before satisfying self- fulfillment needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory and school of thinking that describes the basis and layers of human needs. In a multi-level pyramid, Basic needs must be met, then psychological needs, before satisfying self- fulfillment needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory and school of thinking that describes the basis and layers of human needs. In a multi-level pyramid, Basic needs must be met, then psychological needs, before satisfying self- fulfillment needs.



The Sponsor Hierarchy of Needs is a 360-degree framework to assist property right holders in communicating the basic elements and needs for companies during challenging times. 

Outlining the fundamental “sponsorship” elements for a company are similar to the basic human necessities. In this challenging climate, the shift from “marketing” to basic “company needs” is critical to best understand the sponsorship decision making of the C-Suite. Of utmost priority, companies should be first focused on safety and security of employees and the serving the communities they are in. Rights holders have non-traditional “sponsorable assets” that meet the needs of brands, far beyond transactional media assets. By repurposing “non-media” assets (programs and platforms), properties can work with brands to unlock different “buyers” within organization while accessing other departments. 

LEVEL 1: PROVIDING FOR EMPLOYEES 

The first level deals with every company’s most important assets, their employees. Employees have never been appreciated more as the heartbeat of a company and, across many industries, for the first time, celebrated as essential and front-line workers fighting against the pandemic. As a rights holder, shifting your marketing assets to human capital assets provides an innovative way to offer the most basic needs to existing and potential sponsors. Properties have the opportunity during the crisis to get creative and rethink the traditional assets. Mini packages can be custom for HR executives to repurpose existing budgets across bonuses, recognition, activities/ outings, recruitment, retention and e-learning. Sponsor inventory can be repurposed in the form of gift cards, hospitality, exclusive VIP events, talent access, merch, memorabilia, and digital platforms to address e-learning and communication. 

 

The Sponsor Hierarchy of Needs is a 360-degree partnership framework to assist property right holders in communicating the basic elements and needs for companies during challenging times.
The Sponsor Hierarchy of Needs is a 360-degree partnership framework to assist property right holders in communicating the basic elements and needs for companies during challenging times.
The Sponsor Hierarchy of Needs is a 360-degree partnership framework to assist property right holders in communicating the basic elements and needs for companies during challenging times.

 

LEVEL 2: SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY 

Meeting the needs of the community is the next level and property rights holders offer some of the most integrated and robust community programs. These provide sponsors with a sense of pride and authenticity with goodwill and brand equity established by property fans and members. In light of the social and cultural transformation around the world, brands can virtually connect like never before. In terms of marketing demand, reallocating media assets offers an optimal return on investment. 

LEVEL 3: CUSTOMERS & CLIENTS 

The mid-level ensures B2B and B2C customers are cared for at a personal level. New business and hospitality budgets will be cut in the short-term with lack of live events and property rights holders should come up with VIP and exclusive programs and platforms to leverage. These assets can be digital platforms providing unique access and “inside looks” that make sponsors feel like business partners. These can be in the form of exclusive digital experiences that are then “passed through” to customers.

LEVEL 4: DELIVERING FOR SHAREHOLDERS 

The next level highlights the foundational needs of the brand. It is now time to demonstrate direct revenue and help gain market share. Sponsorship assets are currently depressed presenting the opportunity to reallocate assets beyond media and ask for direct business relationships. Transforming the relationship from sponsor to business partner offers properties to renegotiate and extend longer term deals. These deals can provide future media dollars with measurable direct and indirect revenue through B2B or B2C spending. 

LEVEL 5: BUILDING BRAND EQUITY 

The top tier of the hierarchy focuses on brand building and brand equity. Aligning each brand and property around the core elements that are most important will allow each company to develop brand equity multiplier effect. Sponsorships provide an excellent short and long-term value proposition. The media assets acquired go to support long-term brand equity transfer from the property to the sponsor. Locking in long-term relationships at current media rates provides measurable value into the future, protect a brand’s industry category and also take advantage of the “bonus assets.” 

Property rights holders have an incredible opportunity today to show brands how to unlock more non-traditional sponsorship assets to fulfill basic company needs. By doing so, rights holders can reallocate and right size traditional media packages to serve the future needs of the company across employees, customers, shareholders and brand equity. 

As we look to the future, our industry calls for innovation, differentiation and collaboration. Brands and properties as true partners. It is now time to measure other meaningful partnership channels beyond the traditional and transactional, including other key components of an organization. 

For sponsorship professionals, it is time to offer innovative solutions, cutting-edge measurement and analytical tools to optimize partnerships with traditional marketing assets as the cherry on top of the 360-degree partnership. 

Jeff Marks is founder and CEO of Innovative Partnerships Group (IPG360), a business development and consulting firm that specializes in naming rights, founding partnerships, sponsorships and B2B partnerships.