In 1986 Minneapolis-based Husker Du delivered their double album Warehouse Songs and Stories. It featured tracks from the pens of its competing protagonists Grant Hart and Bob Mould. The major single from the release was ‘Could You Be The One?’. On this track of Bob’s, he bellowed above the guitar riffs in hope for a romantic partner. It was the band’s last album.
In business, there is the expectation to be more strategic in finding your sponsorship partner, your ‘one’. And as with anything meaningful, in preparing yourself for the opportunity your company has to understand itself, and it has to assess and appeal to those who will benefit most from its offering.
Working with budding entrepreneurs and established business owners, the fundamental question is “what problem are you solving?” We all have competition from the real (that we openly acknowledge), to the perceived (i.e. real in our customer’s mind), to ‘take no action, business as usual’, which by default is also real in the customer’s mind. We need to understand that all three are competition, and all three we need to address.
With a company, you work to understand your audience, and influence them with your materially better solution. That solution that needs to be robust. That solution that needs to be sustainable. In establishing this, it is essential to define everything you will offer against the purpose of your being, which has to be consistent with the values you hold and demonstrate.
That company purpose may be to shake up a traditional industry. The company may live this by working with a partner to engage and surprise its customers at every opportunity. The values have to be credible, aligned and ultimately lived by all of your and your sponsor’s people to be successful. Planning carefully up front can eliminate confusion from your customers down the track.
As a premium brand leader and market category creator, Te Mata vineyard was an establishment partner for the Poets Laureate. This award celebrates a pinnacle of cultural achievement for those who inspire our people. It positions Te Mata and its flagship Coleraine as the aspirational, but not inaccessible embodiment of much that is good in our land, with produce from its terroir.
As a challenger brand, Flick Electric has embraced the comedy festival. The market position of Flick is as a disrupting force in a mature (and often faceless) industry, where customers have long felt ‘disempowered’. Through transparency of pricing, greater use of technology and a fresh approach to customer interaction, the comedy festival mirrors the engagement the company seeks with its audience.
Test every aspect of your proposed execution of the partnership against your purpose and values. We will revisit the test and learn theme in a future posting.
Sponsorship’s role is to connect to your audience and live your values. With the right partner, it transcends your product/service into a relationship that reinforces your proposition. The best relationships are ever molding and maturing with contribution from each party. And as with the building of any meaningful relationship, it takes personal dedication and trust. There are also times the sponsored party can share things that you cannot.
Selection is the most important part of the equation. For a board, it is appointment and performance engagement with the CEO. For the business, it is the appointment and engagement with the sponsorship partner.
So, move from the hope of ‘Could you be the one’ to the confidence of You are the one! Giddy Up.