Pivot: Adjusting While Staying Grounded

Changes to the Sponsorship Game

The Golden State Warriors have won their second NBA Championship in three years.  Not that long ago, you could easily score cheap Warriors tickets and catch the game in a quiet Oracle Arena. Today, you’re lucky if you can get tickets to see the team in the supercharged “Roaracle” arena.  What did the Warriors do to become one of the greatest NBA teams?  Moreover, how does it apply to sponsorships?

Changing the Game

American architect, designer, and inventor, Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”  

This fantastic quote captures the essence of what the Warriors did to succeed.  In the era of one-man superstars and a bench of invisible supporting teammates, the Warriors changed the game. They returned to the five man game, building a team with an incredibly strong culture.  They constantly moved the ball instead of relying on the star to score all the shots for the team. They drafted well, cultivated their players from within and hired players who complemented their existing talent and into their team's culture.  

Warriors leadership, Steve Kerr and the coaching staff developed the team’s talent, designed a culture and strategy that enables them to consistently win.  (Well… that greatly oversimplifies it - but you get the gist. If you’d like more, there’s TONS of articles on the topic.)

Sponsorship Changes

Like basketball, the sponsorship model is changing.  In fact, the theme of the IEG 2017 Conference was Pivot.  Jim Andrews, SVP of Marketing at IEG and ESP, explained that when a player pivots, he stops, keeps one firmly planted and evaluates all the possibilities before making a move.  

Unlike basketball, our industry’s shift is largely caused by outside forces - data, technology and client demands.  As sponsors, we are confronted with the convergence of these forces and the impact they have on sponsorship value.  

What’s a sponsor to do?  Become a Warrior!

  1. Pivot:  Stop.  Keep one foot firmly planted in your fundamentals.  Stick with what works for your brand.  Stay on top of your ROI numbers.  Develop the relationships you have with your clients.  Understand how they behave, where they are and what they want.  
  2. Assess Opportunities:  What other sponsors could you partner with to reach your target audience?  What new technologies could you leverage?  Look at the big picture to create a sponsorship asset portfolio that works for your brand.  
  3. Be a Warrior:  Before moving into action, look internally.  What internal assets do you have that you can grow / leverage into a winning team / strategy?  Do you have an incredible culture that you can take into your program or use as an asset with a partner?  Check in with your team.  Do they have great ideas?  Here’s where you can change your sponsorship game.  Be creative and break the sponsorship rules.   
  4. Hit the Court:  Put your plan in action and track your results.  Your plan is only as good as your stats.  If needed, pivot again.  

Sponsorship is evolving.  Sponsors who pivot and change the game in their favor will win.  Get out there, play hard and enjoy your time on the court!