Startups often have a lot to learn from more established companies, particularly when it comes to measuring ROI. I first realized this when our then-young agency began partnering with Anheuser-Busch for work on its NASCAR sponsorship. In an effort to make sure Budweiser was front-and-center in each race market, we created the “Budweiser Pit Crew Challenge,” in which participants competed by jumping over a pit wall and replacing a tire on the Budweiser show car to secure an impressive time slot on the leaderboard and at retail locations in each race market.
Along with giving people the opportunity to have their photo taken with the show cars, this experiential marketing campaign helped create brand affinity, especially when participants then saw Dale Earnhardt Jr., with his iconic red No. 8 Budweiser car, bringing excitement to the brand on the track.
Not everything was smooth sailing, though. During one race, Dale Jr. crashed early on. He escaped unharmed, thankfully, but it was a sad reminder of what can happen when potential exposure plummets from three hours to three minutes.
From witnessing this experience, our team learned that smart marketers know how to capitalize on sponsorships by taking proactive measures—like coming up with an innovative ROI strategy—to mitigate dismay and potentially stay in the spotlight long after the checkered flag is a distant memory.
Want to prevent your one-time branding moments from becoming flashes in the pan? Try these three techniques that continuously put your product top of mind:
1. Try a One-Two Punch
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor. The so-called fight of the century. Corona paid around $10 million for primary sponsorship of the worldwide event. Yet what would happen if a total knockout occurred in the first round? That money would be gone.
Corona wasn’t taking chances, though. Its eggs were placed in many baskets: prefight VIP soirees, post-fight celebrations, and media events. The brand even had the “Corona Girls”—wearing branded gear, of course—on hand during ring time. In other words, the beer company had an air-tight integrated plan in place. The length of the fight didn’t really matter; Corona would win no matter who took home the belt.
Technically, Corona sponsored a one-time event. However, it drove hype to alleviate factors outside of its control. You can, too, by extending your moment in the limelight to make the experience and investment worthwhile. You’ll never worry about a worst-case scenario because you’ll be in great shape.
2. If You’re Online, Head Offline
When Duck Brand, known for its numerous varieties of duct tape, sponsored a “Project Runway” episode, it didn’t focus only on the program. Sure, the brand suspected challengers would be excited to make incredible fashion statements using only its tape. But it also knew that it couldn’t rest on its laurels and expect one broadcast to boost sales.
Thankfully, Duck Brand had a master plan in mind. On the heels of the episode’s first airing, Duck Brand set up a pop-up shop in the fashion capital of the Big Apple: Manhattan’s famed Garment District. From photo opportunities to special meet-and-greets, the store had it all, and artsy people flocked to buy more than 80,000 rolls of tape over the course of 11 days. Afterward, duct tape creations sprouted up across social media channels, including YouTube. Duck Brand wasn’t just hip; it was the coolest thing going.
By offering a brick-and-mortar shopping extravaganza featuring all kinds of duct tape for several days, Duck Brand grabbed more attention than it ever could with one television episode. Take a page from Duck Brand’s book and never limit yourself to a narrow scope in sponsorships. Instead, think of all the channels available for you to make yourself stick with your target audience.
3. Metamorphose Into a Social Butterfly
Have a location-specific or short-term sponsorship on the horizon? Break down barriers by encouraging social sharing during the event. With every snap, post, or tweet, you’re upping your odds of reaching people globally.
In our world of customer skepticism, 85 percent of people prefer to get their information from peers than from typical advertisements. At the same time, individuals often need encouragement to talk about what they’re doing. If you don’t ask people to showcase their experiences, you’re missing the boat. Instead, have a hashtag at the ready, develop a photo booth for the experience, and build awareness of how everyone can talk about your brand’s brilliance.
Of course, be sure to evaluate your ideal personas before settling on a hashtag or social platform. Keep in mind that it might be challenging to get Baby Boomers to learn about you by solely leaning on Snapchat or offering fun filters. Know where your targets are likely to be online, and then create buzz around those channels.
One-time and short-term sponsorships are fleeting, but social is—for all intents and purposes—forever. The big fight might end after a minute. The 5K could be washed out by Mother Nature’s wrath. Yet short-lived sponsorships don’t have to go down in marketing history as losses. Plan for the unthinkable, and ensure a lasting impact by focusing on the long term, even when you’re inking a short-term deal.
Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of experiential marketing agency Pro Motion Inc.