6 Steps to Measuring Your Partnerships

Let’s start today’s blog with some myth-busting facts.

Measuring sponsorship only happens at the end of the year when you tell your partner all the things they got from their partnership with you. WRONG.

Measuring partnerships is impossible because we can never know about or measure against a brand’s ROI metrics.  WRONG.

Measuring partnerships is too hard, and besides, it isn’t our job. WRONG

The concept of measuring partnerships and sponsorships continues to get a lot of air time and in fact, in the latest piece of research from IEG, nearly 60% of brands were looking to cull underperforming sponsorship within the next year.

Could you afford to lose 6/10 partners?

The key to measuring your partnerships is to kick off discussions about what success looks like and how to measure when you are first building rapport with a potential sponsor.

BEFORE you send them a contract.

Why?

Because once you’re IN the partnership it can be too late.  If you never discussed these vital points up front, you can easily find yourself at the end of the year needing to create a fulfilment report and realising that you never took any benchmark data, or asked what their key goals were and how you might put some kind of metric to that.

Then… you risk having the rather soul-crushing renewal discussions where your partners tell you they didn’t get anything out of the partnership, and they are allocating their budget elsewhere.  Thanks, but no thanks.

No. We can’t have that.

So, measuring your partnerships starts at the initial ‘discovery’ phase when you are getting to know them, and continues on from there.

Here are my 6 steps for measuring your partnerships, growing your corporate strategy and keeping happy partners.

1. ASK ABOUT THEIR GOALS

Every single corporate partner will have some kind of goal or outcome they’re seeking to achieve from a partnership with you.  Your job is to find out what they want.  Here is a list of common outcomes brands seek from their partnerships:

  • Create visibility/ awareness
  • Increase sales
  • Increase brand loyalty
  • Change/ reinforce image
  • Showcase product features and benefits
  • Increase database / capture new leads
  • Excite/ involve employees
  • One-to-one interaction
  • Build retail /dealer traffic
  • Networking with co-sponsors
  • Client entertainment
  • New product launch
  • Community recognition and appreciation
  • Behind the scenes access
  • Ability to ‘give back’ to the community

This is by no means an exclusive list, so please be sure to ask smart questions and get the information you need.

2. TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR GOALS

Sure, for many of us, our main goal will be money.  Yep, we need investment, that’s why we are approaching sponsors.  But there are so many other things that can come out of a great partnership, besides cash investment. What are the desired outcomes you seek from your corporate partnerships?  Here are some ideas if you’re stuck.

  • To help you create more impact in your community
  • To take more programs and services to more people
  • To launch a new campaign
  • To increase your reach – leverage their networks, build awareness of your brand to people who care about your cause.
  • To bring more excitement to your events by creating cool activations
  • To have more volunteers to support your programs

Remember, you are not a charity in need of handouts.  You are a valuable marketing partner to the right brand. It’s OK for you to have goals, just don’t play the poor cousin. You have an important role to play in their success. Be empowered about that and own your role.

3. BENCHMARK… EVERYTHING

Now you know what a partner is looking for and you feel you can deliver on it when you sign them up, you need to take some benchmark data.  Or a snapshot in time.   Where are you right now?  Here are  some things you can and should be taking note of at the beginning of a partnership:

  • How many members, supporters do you have?
  • How many people are on your email list? (This is very likely to be a different number from the one above)
  • How many people came to your last event/s?
  • How many recipients of your services are there?
  • How many people receive your services/ are involved in your programs?
  • Get Google Analytics – understand it, or ask for help from the IT/Marketing team to understand it and provide you with a snapshot of current traffic to and engagement with your website.
  • Brainstorm measurement ideas with your team. Program staff are vital as part of this process – what do they measure in their role?  How do they know when a program has been successful?

4. THINK ABOUT THE END GAME, NOW

How are you going to report back to your partners at the end of the year and show them what was achieved for you AND them? You need to activate the partnership with their goals in mind.  This is crucial because it goes BEYOND you just putting their logo on your website and giving them some tickets to the awards dinner.  It also is the main reason you should send out bronze, silver and gold sponsorship proposals.  Your goal should always be to reach out, develop rapport, discover their needs and tailor the offering to them.  THEN, when the end of the year rolls around and you are ready to write your fulfilment report, you are only covering those sweet spots (but any extra and fabulous stuff you were able to do) to show them you met their expectations.

5. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

You and I both know that you don’t have enough hours in the day for the role that you do.  That’s why you’ve got to have all your processes created and ready to go before you embark on this journey with corporate partners.  When I am creating processes around managing a new partner, I make sure I am as organised up front as I can possibly be.  Some examples of the things I set in place are:

  • I follow all partners on LinkedIn (company and key staff) at the beginning – that way when I need to post something I can easily tag them so they know I’m sharing information about them.
  • I take screenshots of every EDM, social post, media articles, event flyer etc as I go, and save it into a dedicated folder for that partner. (Make fulfilment reports SUPER easy!)
  • I track the open and click rates of all EDMs relating to specific events/partners (and save those details too.)
  • I create a specific folder in my Outlook for each partner so I can easily track, save and revisit communications with them.
  • I diarise EVERYTHING! Anything that I will need to remember in relation to a partner – reminders, check-ins, quarterly meetings – I diarise them all, to save my poor brain having to remember on the fly!
  • And I send out meeting requests for partners so they can lock key dates into their calendars too – EDM dates, times you need their content by, key events and so on.

6. DO REGULAR BAROMETER TESTS

Sponsors want to be partners in your success and increased impact.  Partnerships are relationships.  Relationships need time, space and nourishment.  Like anything, things of greatness take time to build.  Make sure you are meeting with your partners regularly – at least quarterly.  You could even easily be creating quarterly fulfilment reports! Even though this might sound like it’s a whole bunch of work, it will really save you a huge amount of work (and guesswork) at the end of the year when it comes time to renewing your partnerships.

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