A while back, we interviewed Simon Kearsley; CEO at Accounting Software Vendor bluQube. Simon has written a piece for business website Fresh Business Thinking outlining again why he uses sailing as a platform for achieveing his marketing goals.
Here are some excerpts from the article…
In the beginning, we looked at a range of different sports sponsorship but finally eliminated these in favour of sailing. We felt that this sport uniquely had the right attributes to complement our own company identity and product branding and were convinced that many of our target audience such as CFOs, Finance Directors and other senior managers would share an affinity with sailing.
Many often feel that sponsorship is a bit of a luxury and is one of the first things to go when marketing budgets are squeezed. For bluQube though it has been a completely different story, one that many other organisations could learn from.
Like many companies we operate in a highly competitive marketplace often against rivals that sell similar solutions but may have far larger marketing budgets. Like other forms of PR, sponsorship can help level the playing field as well as promote you as different from the rest of the pack.
As a result of sponsorship bluQube has gone from an unknown brand to becoming a key player in the accounting software world. But how has this happened? The mistake that many organisations make regarding sponsorship is that they sign a deal, part with the funding, then sit back and wait for something to happen. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that and the size of the return will be proportional to the effort and conviction you put into the project.
What Dreams are made of
The advantage of sailing sponsorship is that it gives you the opportunity to present an on-going human interest commentary often tied into events within the sailing calendar. Amongst other races such as the FastNet, the OSTAR was Katie’s biggest challenge and attracted the most interest, not only from the media but also amongst our existing customers and prospects. What was even better though was that Katie, aged 22, also managed to set a record for being the youngest ever female competitor to finish the race. This is the kind of press you can only dream of and translated into pages of coverage in national (The Sunday Times), business (Management Today) and lifestyle (Womens Fitness) press. In parallel we ran a series of communications with existing and potential customers which kept them updated with Katie’s progress. We even created our own bluQube blog which was hugely popular.
Get the balance right
My advice to others contemplating sponsorship is that you need to consider how it fits into your overall plan.
If it’s just stuck out on a limb and has no part in all your other marketing messages and campaigns then you could waste a big part of your investment because not enough people know about your sponsorship and it may jar with the rest of your branding.
From our own experience I can confidently say that the return so far from our investment has been as much as 500%, which is staggering when you look at typical ROI from other types of marketing expenditure such as advertising.
What can sailing sponsorship deliver
- Unique hospitality and networking events for existing and prospective customers (e.g. Sailing days etc.)
- Beating the gatekeeper – information on sailing can break down the usual barriers of getting in front of decision makers
- Differentiation, credibility and the ability to compete against larger competitors in the marketplace
- Motivation for own staff and understanding/reinforcement of key brand values
- On-going market research
- Lead generation through PR linked to sponsorship
- Visibility of your brand on a national & global stage e.g. bluQube has had branding within the last 12 months in Vendee Globe, Cowes Week, London & Southampton boat shows, FastNet race & The Silicon Cup
- Empathy with target audience due to own interest in sailing giving opportunity to reach prospects in a ‘soft’ way
- Full boat branding & opportunity for merchandising e.g. clothing, mugs etc.