The Future of Sailing Sponsorship According to Matt Strachan.

Matthew Strachan is the Sales Director at the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), last week he attended a conference about how sponsorship works for brands and rights holders around the world. Here are his observations.

The future’s bright – the future’s sponsorship.

Amsterdam played host to this year’s conference, and my first experience of Future Sponsorship. Richard Moore and the Informa team ensured there was something for everyone to discuss over a cold Heineken (or 2) post event, reminding us of how turbulent the last 12 months have been with numerous scandals, disappointing World Cups, android technology, ambush marketing, quantitative easing and continued financial uncertainty. This was, however, nicely balanced by both Richard and Karen Earl who re-enforced what we all believe; sponsorship is a leading marketing discipline, vital and highly effective in corporate brand communications, and the industry as a whole has never been in a stronger position.

[cleeng_content id=”160085800″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Julie Clarke of PWC delivered a very insightful presentation which I’m sure focussed everyone’s mind; the global economy is still fragile and the pace of recovery is slower than assumed. That said, we;re getting back on track and there are definitely opportunities to work with globalising companies from developing countries (BRIC). Looking to the future, she also pointed out that we’re involved in an industry that’s worth $29.4bn and one that is expected to grow to $35.2bn by 2013, a compound growth of 4.6%, so the clear message was that there are opportunities out there but rights-holders will have to work harder, be more creative and focus on the objectives of the brands more closely. This will require us to embrace the changes in technology, work more closely with sponsors to create a connection with their consumers, to deliver immersive opportunities for brand engagement and a laser sharp focus on delivering returns from day one.

With some industry heavyweights on the various panels, it’s clear to see that effective partnerships, activated well, deliver phenomenal returns. Adidas sold 13 million footballs during the World Cup while Castrol saw an 18% increase int heir brand awareness, 11 million website impressions and well over £300m of media value. Charlies Wirjeratna from LOCOG delivered a fascinating presentation outlining the process by which he and his team generated over £600m of revenues for the 2012 Olympic games and I’m sure there will be many who attended who will be tweaking their proposals having listened to him talk (although I imagine only the very confident will be adopting his policy of sending out tender documents to prospective sponsors!) Particular reference was made to the importance of technology and the increasing role it has to play and many brands talked of their digital and social media strategies and how a fundamental shift towards that medium had led to increased gains. WIth 35 hours of new content being uploaded to YouTube every minute and 15% of all Formula 1 viewers watching the TV with a laptop open (that’s 24 million people per race) it’s clear that this offers a great way for sports that perhaps don’t get huge amounts of TV coverage to deliver real value to sponsors (and of course the fans) and generate new income streams.

For anyone, like me, who’s actively out in the market place selling, it’s always interesting to see what your competitors are doing, what’s working for them that might work for you and there was a great discussion on day two about the sales process. Moderator Paul Samuels, who famously did the O2 deal with The Dome, chaired a great session which I’m sure left anyone in a sales or business development role feeling positive and confident that business is out there as long as you do your homework, believe in what you’re selling and ensure you can deliver VALUE to the client. It’s imperative that there’s a thorough understanding of the objectives of the brand and that any pitch is tailored to providing a solution. All to often, according to the panel, rights-holders are out there trying to sell what they need to sell rather than what the brand needs. Once this balance has been achieved, the sponsor then has a responsibility to invest in the activation to ensure the partnership is truly successful.

I left feeling more confident than ever that The WMRT can deliver value on many fronts and the work we’re doing to develop The Tour will enhance any relationships we have and develop in the future. We’re going to have to work harder than ever to get the deals but that just makes the success taste even sweeter!

Get in touch with Matt at the World Match Racing Tour

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