Sunday, February 14, 2010

Promotional value… priceless or just pricey?

The player sprinted full out as the ball arced high into the sky, flirting with the outfield wall. Fans sprang to their feet, a hush of silence sweeping over the stadium as all eyes watched the contest between ball and man. The ball’s course was high, seemingly well beyond the reach of any mortal man. It seemed destined for the oblivion of the open pasture behind the stadium. As it soared to freedom, the player launched himself into the air. Stretching his arm to an impossible height, he reached his glove skyward to capture the ball safely in its leather cocoon.

Then, he slammed backward into a Jon Smith Subs outfield board.

The front page of the Sports section carried the story and the picture of the winning play with “World’s Best Marinated Steak Subs” shouting loudly from the background. Not a bad return on that baseball sponsorship.

Unlike a TV commercial or print ad, sponsorships and promotions are more difficult to put a value on. Promoters love to pitch you splashy presentations promising hundreds of thousands of impressions for substantially less than they are really worth. But, unless they can make your cash register ring, they’re just a bunch of pretty pictures with no story behind them. And, as my grandmother liked to say, “paper holds still.”

The value you place on a sponsorship or promotion depends on the value you expect to get out of it. You must define your expectations going in so you know how to determine the success when the fans have all gone home. A sponsor message on an outfield board is a great way to promote your brand, but unless you advertise “Free Subs,” you probably won’t be inundated by customers saying they saw you at the ballgame. If that’s your expectation, look for another kind of promotion or sponsorship.

Promoters and media often try to fit you into pre-packaged sponsorships. The Platinum Package includes on-air mentions, your logo on promotional materials, exposure on the website (ten zillion hits a week) and inclusion in weekly on air giveaways (supplied by yours truly). Sometimes a pre-packaged plan fits right within your expectations. More often, you’ll want to ask for a customized version.

Recently a client asked for a traffic driving promotion and the promoter presented a register-to-win opportunity for a prize provided by – guess who? – the client. Other than the “traffic driving on-air mentions,” the client could have conducted the promotion on his own. Instead, we negotiated for a gift with purchase provided by – guess who? – the promoter for the same price tag as the original promotion. The client posted record sales for the day.

So the next time you’re considering a promotion or sponsorship, make them pitch it just the way you like it… straight across home plate. Chances are, you’ll get a home run.