Developing innovative sponsorships
Kristy Rosser from Secret Sounds tells us what arts organisations can learn from the many successful collaborations between music events and brands.
Secret Sounds was established as a start-up in 2002 and has grown into a wildly successful full-service tour promoter operating out of Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay. A pioneer in new approaches to business partnerships, we asked Founder and MD, Kristy Rosser, for her tips on developing innovative sponsorships.
- Have a clear, long-term vision for your event: When you have a clear vision for your event, and you consistently reinforce this vision through programming and all aspects of your marketing, you are much more appealing to a brand.
- Brands as collaborators: While revenue generation will always be a key target, most brands will be looking for ways to directly engage with your audience in authentic ways. Logo association and tickets are simply not enough to draw the attention of savvy marketers. Consider the role that brands can play in co-curation of your event spaces – such as destination bars or lounges, development of content for social media and utility offerings such as Wi-Fi and phone charging. Brands will often invest over and above the rights fee to directly engage with your audience in authentic ways, and this can add value to your event and save on your bottom line.
- There’s no one size fits all: While you need to establish a base sponsorship package and framework for the exposure and benefits that you can offer sponsors, you need to take a bespoke approach to putting together a sponsorship package. By offering brands unique inventory and benefits, you have a better ability to respond to specific brand objectives and can develop sponsorship packages that will suit a range of budgets. For our festivals we operate solely on a model of exclusivity by category with bespoke sponsorship entitlements, rather than a tiered sponsorship model (such as platinum, gold etc).
- Lead with inventory, rather than rights: Have you always dreamed of developing a new part of your event if you just had the budget? You should consider fully developing a concept and budget that a brand can take ownership of. The fees that a brand pays can be directly invested into this space – on say, a two-year deal, and if the brand does not continue past this timeframe, you have the ability to own an event asset that you can either sell to another sponsor or reproduce unbranded. The great thing about this approach is that brands see direct reinvestment of their rights fees into the show and gain active participation and exposure with the audience. One watchout is to ensure you will retain IP rights to this inventory in your sponsorship agreement.
- Collaborating isn’t selling out: If you’ve got a stigma it’s time to shake it. Brand collaboration is a strategic partnership. The emphasis here is on ‘strategic’. When partnerships are done well, there is a massive opportunity for everyone to reap the rewards.
- Getting the right fit: Consider doing deals for less money but with the right brands. The case studies will be invaluable and will help positively position your sponsorship platform from the get go.
- Managing the relationship: It needs to be a partnership in every sense of the word. By that, I mean you need to be prepared to compromise on some points while still staying true to your vision, likewise for the brand. We all know the best relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. Keep the lines of communication open and honest, always.
- Last but definitely not least – authenticity is key: While it’s natural to push yourself out of the box a lot of the time and think creatively about how to conceptualise a potential partnership, it must always feel authentic. Audiences are prepared to accept a certain level of brand involvement if they can see the value it brings to the event. If it jars in anyway, you really run the risk of devaluing not only the partnership as a whole, but your brand position in the market as well. Always consider the long-term gain.
Secret Sounds was just one of more than 100 pioneers and leaders that spoke at REMIX SYDNEY this year. We were thrilled to partner with REMIX in 2016 to co-curate two keynote panels focused on developing new models and innovative partnerships for the arts.
REMIX gives arts organisations and creatives a great opportunity to think differently, to learn how the tech, agency and digital world embrace collaboration and cross-pollination to achieve their goals, and to hear from the movers and shakers in sponsorship innovation.