One the biggest benefits of surveying your community of followers on behalf of a corporate partner is the way it places you as a major player in measuring a sponsor’s return on their investment (ROI). And let’s face it, that’s massively important – everyone’s talking about measurement, ROI and how to get it right. Nobody wants to get to renewal time and be left hanging out to dry while a partner tells you that they just didn’t derive value from the partnership because nobody knew how to measure it effectively.
This leads me to highlight the report ‘What Sponsors Want and Where Dollars Will Go In 2016’* from IEG as a result of a recent global survey they have undertaken with sponsorship decision makers. The report revealed that (among other things) ‘1 in 5 sponsors can’t say how their sponsorship is tracking and that sponsors may be turning to properties (that’s you) for help with measurement because they are not doing a good job at evaluating return on their own.’ With regard to performance measures, the most important metrics to sponsors, according to the report were those that tracked things like attitudes toward and awareness of the sponsoring brand or company.
Have you ever had one of those conversations with a potential sponsor (you know, the one that strikes fear into your heart because you suddenly feel very out of your depth) where they want to know how you can help them increase their brand loyalty by this amount, maximise brand awareness by that amount and influence purchasing behaviour by this per cent? Well, how on earth can YOU measure that?
Surveys are a brilliant tool that can help you get a benchmark for many of the things a sponsor wants to get out of the relationship. Do your supporters buy their competitors’ products? Have they heard about your sponsor? Do they buy their products? How often? If they had a way to improve their product or service, how would your supporters suggest they do it? There are endless questions that you can ask your supporters on behalf of a sponsor to get a benchmark to put you in an empowered position to out some concrete measures in place.
I have a few caveats though, when I recommend a For-Purpose organisation implement a survey for a sponsor. My first recommendation is that you only allow them to ask 3-6 questions maximum and only once per year. This is not an opportunity for your members to feel spammed, but a well worded introductory email or letter can go a long way to letting your supporters know how valuable their opinions are in helping your organisation to further grow the programs and services that will directly benefit them! Secondly, you have full editing rights over the way all questions are phrased (after all, you know how to communicate most effectively with your supporters – you can help your sponsor get the best results from this survey.) Thirdly, it is supremely important that you never offer this benefit in order for your potential sponsors to discover whether or not your organisation might be a good investment – this is only something that they get access to once their contract is signed and invoice is paid. 🙂 Finally, benchmarks are only useful when there are follow up surveys that show where there has been growth and change. Remember, that in order to be comparing apples with apples, you will need to be asking the same or very similar questions year on year, so help your sponsor understand the need for this. This benefit can also be a great bargaining tool when trying to get sponsors to sign up for multi-year contracts.
And by the way just out of interest, when was the last time your For-Purpose organisation undertook a survey of your supporters, members or donors? When did you last touch base with them to connect, express your gratitude for being part of your community, ask them to update their details? Surveying your supporters annually allows you to stay connected, remain front of mind, celebrate your successes, update them on projects you have on the boil. You could even find out more about where their interests lie within your organisation so that you can begin to tailor how you communicate with them and at the same time you are also getting great demographic information, because as you know, the more granular your knowledge of your supporters and their interests, desires and needs, the easier it will be for you to find brands that are the ideal fit, rather than going after the ones that just have big marketing budgets!
* ‘What Sponsors Want and Where Dollars Will Go In 2016’ http://www.sponsorship.com/IEG/files/71/711f2f01-b6fa-46d3-9692-0cc1d563d9b7.pdf