We know that Covid-19 has done funny things to the media markets. Clients have reported volatile pricing, including some fantastic deals out there. There are some tempting deals out there on sponsorship packages. The question some of our clients have asked us is: should we take one? 

Here are three things to think about before you push the button. 

1. Why are we considering this? 

Everyone loves a deal and almost all of us suffer from a degree of FOMO. Be honest. Is that the main reason we’re considering this? Is it the only reason? We’d be less than human not to be at least a little flattered by the dedicated attention of a media owner who has a once-in-a-lifetime special offer for us. And perhaps also concerned that if we pass it up, then our competitors might grab it.

These motives are understandable and nothing of the above tells us that we should not sign up. But a little bit of honest soul-searching here will put you on the front foot when it comes to asking the question that really matters, which is… 

2. What is this going to do for my business? 

Broadly speaking brands buy broadcast sponsorship packages for one of two reasons: to build the brand in the medium- to long-term or to drive short-term sales. Let’s look at both. 

Help build the brand in the medium to long-term 

There is not an abundance of evidence on this, and the evidence we have tends to come from meta analyses and pseudo-academic studies, rather than direct measurements of brand impact, simply because no one has found the definitive way to measure it. 

Here the name ‘sponsorship’ can be a little misleading. Say it back to yourself. What does it sound like? Isn’t it redolent of long-term, strategic partnerships, positive brand associations, of a growing customer base of super-consumers who all profess undying brand love? But what does it mean in practice? 5-second bumpers in repeats of Poirot on UKDrama+1? If that’s what you need to do the communication job at hand, then go for it. If it’s something ‘richer’ you’re looking for, then maybe not. 

My point is not to cuss sponsorship, UKDrama+1 or even repeats of Poirot. It’s just to avoid a disconnect between the glamour of sponsoring something and the reality of what it is you are buying. 

Drive short-term sales 

Believe it or not, that’s not as silly as it might seem. As people who measure short-term sales effects, we have often seen broadcast sponsorship moving the needle in our models. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have personally seen it work (in the sense of registering an effect on sales) more often than I have seen it not work. 

Of course, whether or not it is the best use of your hard-earned marketing budget is a separate question, which brings us on to our third and final point. 

3. Is it the best use of my hard-earned marketing budget? 

My wife is fond of shopping. She’s just as fond of telling me how much she has saved on each of her trips by taking advantage of discounts and bargains. Woe betide me if I point how much more she could have saved by, say, not buying stuff. 

Which is the reason for giving you this brief glimpse into my domestic arrangements. No matter how cheap it is, it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it. Don’t listen to the double-digit, much publicised £s off. Instead look at how many £s are still ‘on’ – that’s the price you’ll be paying. It’s the oldest trick in the salesmen’s book, as behavioural specialists are cottoning on to. 

How much should, if anything, should we pay for a package? 

Sponsorship packages are lumpy, unique and infrequently traded, so it’s doubtful whether we can even talk meaningfully of a ‘market price’. 

Instead, turn this around and ask yourselves what price would make it worthwhile. 

If you have done something before, measure at least its short-term sales benefit with some econometrics. 

Otherwise, do a recce of what, honestly, you think all those 5-second idents will do for your business. What does it come to? £100k? £500k? £2m? That’s the most you should be prepared to pay for it. Should you spend that money on something else? Well, what ROI does your other media deliver? Could you do achieve more by spending the same money elsewhere? 

In bringing this to a close, it’s worth pointing out that the process you need to go through when deciding whether or not to sponsor “Homes In The Sun” is no different at this time in history than at any other. OK, Covid may be causing these things to come along a bit more often and a bit less expectedly, but don’t let FOMO or anything else make your decision for you. 

And, as ever, if you’d like our two cents on how best to spend your two cents, please do get in touch. 

Philip Gaudoin 

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