Our regular readers may not be surprised that sponsorship in sailing has a way to go. There are a few reasons for this – some cultural, some historical and some based on the perception of sailing as a niche activity with not enough ‘coverage’. For an in depth look into some of these issues, get yourself a copy of ‘Getting on the Plane‘.
One of the strangest incongruities is that the country that brought us NASCAR and NFL and NHL and branded up Tiger Woods with Accenture logos struggles with the concept of sponsorship being attached to sailing. Not everyone – Alphagraphics powers the US Sailing Team, Rolex sponsors a ton of activity and obviously BMW gets something out of its participation with the GGYC America’s Cup challenge.
More people visit this website from the USA than any other market. The message is getting through and it seems others are coming around to our idea. In a media love-in, an article called Sponsorship is not a Dirty Word published in Windcheck that mentions Scuttlebutt and Sail-World has been picked up by Scuttlebutt and Sail-World.
In it, the author puts a case for sponsorship and argues that sponsors are looking for coverage. While coverage is important, there are literally hundreds of other reasons why companies use sponsorship as a marketing platform. These days, sponsorship is nothing without activation. A mention in an article or a photo with your logo is nothing compared to building long term relationships or engaging with customers using new media tools.
If all you want to do is talk to sailors, then Scuttlebutt and Sail-World are great, but the professionals realise that if you do it properly, sponsorship can capture the imagination of a wider public. How? Activation.
The article shows where the real problems lie. It suggests that getting media coverage is simple:
All they really need to do is give some brief details of the event — how hard it was blowing, how many races, etc — and the results. Also, if your club has a website, give the link where the results are posted.
If your club has a website? If? In the year 2009, if your club does not have a website, then sponsorship is the least of your worries.
Here’s our advice and it will be as controversial as the idea of sponsorship itself to some. Outsource your sponsorship to professionals. A couple of Yacht Clubs in the USA already do this and their reasoning is sound.
- Good sponsorships take time to develop and deliver good returns. Yacht Club committees typically turn over every year, making it very difficult to build long term relationships with sponsors.
- Most club officials have a day job, which makes the job of finding and managing sponsors difficult, even if they have the expertise.
- Execution and activation are extremely important and some sponsors are extremely demanding. One sponsor changes the ‘green’ in their logo every year and insists on flags from previous regattas with the ‘wrong green’ be destroyed. Managing the logistics of sponsorships is hard work.
We work with Sponsorship and PR people around the world to help Yacht Clubs, Teams and Event Organisers to give real value to sponsors. This doesn’t have to cost as much as you think. Simple clean, database driven websites are cheap and easy, resources like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and multiple online press-release submission sites are free.
Keep the mantra in mind – Ask not what your sponsor can do for you. Ask what can you do for your sponsor. For introductions to sponsorship experts in your area contact us.