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Finance Brands and Sports Sponsorship. Is It Worth It? Leading financial marketing agency Contentworks investigates.

Finance Brands and Sports Sponsorship. Is It Worth It Leading financial marketing agency Contentworks investigates.

Very few events can give you the kind of exposure a sporting event can. As the leading financial services marketing agency, we’re looking at finance brands and sports sponsorship. Is it worth it?

Very few events can give you the kind of exposure a sporting event can. Football undoubtedly takes the crown for the highest viewership, with 3.5 billion avid fans worldwide. That’s massive brand exposure for finance brands. Plus, sports sponsorship is also about making a psychological connection. People don’t just watch major sporting events, they interact on social media throughout. Statistics reveal that 80% of sports fans share their experience while watching live sports. And it’s this exposure, reach and psychological connection that lures in finance brands. As the leading financial services marketing agency, we’re looking at finance brands and sports sponsorship. Is it worth it?

How Finance Brands Have Capitalised on Sports

Visa is the official payment tech partner for the Olympics and Paralympics till 2032. Citigroup also took the plunge in 2022, becoming the founding partner of PARA SPORT, the International Paralympic Committee’s “grassroots-to-high performance” programme that seeks to change the narrative about people with disabilities.

Aside from maximising visibility and strengthening brand image, sports sponsorships also build customer trust and loyalty. And these benefits aren’t restricted to finance giants who can sponsor the largest and most expensive events.

UK-based Starling Bank, is now the official banking partner of Team GB for the Olympic Games. Apart from giving Starling international visibility, this sponsorship is also aimed at aligning the brand with the values of teamwork and excellence that the British Olympic team represents. Brokerage firm Plus500, which started out as a back-of-shirt sponsor for Athletico Madrid moved on to being their main shirt sponsor.

Some finance brands are also capitalising on the popularity of sports personalities. For example, Poland-based XTB has signed former Spanish footballer Iker Casillas and UFC fighter Conor McGregor as brand ambassadors. AvaTrade partnered with Usain Bolt, the famous Olympic gold medalist.

Some of the most active financial services brands in terms of sports sponsorships are Visa, MasterCard, PNC Financial Services, Bank of America, Caixa Bank, American Express, Santander, HSBC, Credit Agricole, and Citigroup, as of 2023. Sponsorships by the payments sector alone were estimated at $2.5 billion as of June 30, 2023. Unsurprisingly, soccer is by far the most popular sport for sponsorships.

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And while neither the sponsors nor the beneficiaries like to reveal the financial terms of the deal, the cost can vary widely, depending on factors like popularity and the type of deal. “To give an extremely broad overview, packages range from $1 million for Global Partnership deals at top European challenger clubs to over $50 million for top-level, premium uniform positions at the Deloitte Money League’s top clubs (e.g., Manchester United shirt sponsorship / Barcelona shirt sponsorship),” CEO and Founder of SportQuake, Matt House, told Finance Magnates.

Contentworks Agency Niki Nikolaou added “The cost of sponsorship isn’t just what you pay to the team, it’s also the cost of your marketing. You need an expert content marketing agency or a team of writers, social media managers, designers, campaign managers and so much more. If you think the sponsorship is going to take care of your marketing, think and budget again!”

The choice of sponsorship really comes down to the region in which you want to promote your brand. The UK, for instance, is home to a massive football fan base. Barclays UK has partnered with the Premier League for more than two decades now. When the Women’s Super League turned professional in 2019, the banking giant became its first title sponsor.

A recently announced partnership is that of Exness with LALIGA in Latin America. The brokerage is using this strategic sponsorship to establish a strong foothold in the burgeoning LATAM trading ecosystem. Latin America is home to legendary clubs, such as Barcelona FC, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. And LALIGA brings together millions of fans from all across the LATAM region. Drawing on LALIGA’s impressive popularity, this landmark sponsorship will boost Exness’ reach in this key strategic region. The Exness-LALIGA partnership will span the two seasons: 2023/2024 and 2024/2025.

Previously, PayRetailers, a leading payments processor in Latin America, partnered with the South American Football Confederation to be an official sponsor of CONMEBOL Sudamericana. The PSP positioned themselves as experts in the field for the LATAM region and with the tournament consisting of 10 national teams – ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilChileColombiaEcuadorParaguayPeruUruguay, and Venezuela, it was a perfect match.

Measuring the Impact of Sports Sponsorships

According to Neilsen’s 2022 Global Sports Marketing report, sports sponsorships tend to drive an average increase of 10% in purchase intent among the exposed fan base, along with an average 1-point gain in metrics such as brand awareness, and a 1% rise in sales. However, less than 20% of corporate sponsorship executives have a method to measure the ROI of sponsorships. To truly understand the impact of such investments, consider using the following metrics.

  • Audience Reach: Understanding the demographics and size of the audience your sponsorship will reach can help you customise messaging for the greatest impact.
  • Brand Exposure: This evaluates how prominently and frequently your brand is seen throughout the sporting event, including on athletes’ gear, jerseys, stadium signs, etc.
  • Social Media Engagement: Online dialogue is a major driver of brand awareness and positive sentiment. So, the number of comments, shares, hashtags, and, of course, likes on social media matters.
  • Sales and Revenue: Monitor any difference in sales, registrations on your platform, and even inquiries as a direct result of sponsorship.
  • ROI: This is the difference between your investment in sponsorship and the income generated consequently.
  • Sentiment Analysis: How fans perceive your brand gives you insights on whether the sponsorship has a favourable or unfavourable impact on brand image. You can use social media polls and sentiment analysis tools for this.
  • Long-Term Impact: How long can your sponsorship impact consumer behaviour? Measure the long-term connections forged and customer loyalty.

Selecting the Right Sponsorship Opportunities and Campaign

The key is to align your business with not just the most popular sport, but one that resonates with your brand image. So, listen to your target audience and the sports team/club/athlete. Here’s what to keep in mind to optimise sponsorship opportunities.

Understand Your Target Market

Who do you want to reach through the sports sponsorship? Learn about their demographics, media consumption patterns, needs, aspirations, and behaviours. This will help you to identify which sport or event can be the most effective in resonating with your target audience and ensuring the widest reach for your message. For example, with Barclays UK sponsoring women’s football, it aligns more with women.

Establish Sponsorship Goals

This means identifying outcomes that you want to achieve and the metrics to measure the results. The most common objectives are increased engagement, brand awareness, signups, and customer loyalty. Set KPIs that will help you track and assess each of these parametres to evaluate the effectiveness of your sponsorship. Remember to also focus on long-term goals and not just immediate monetary outcomes.

Research Sponsorship Opportunities

This goes beyond shortlisting available sporting events over the next year. Be sure to thoroughly research the leagues/clubs, teams, individual athletes, audience profile, size and reach. Plus, you will need to check out the sponsorships packages available, and the costs and benefits of each package.

Finalise the Agreement

Once you’ve decided who you want to partner with, it’s time for some hard negotiations to finalise the deal. Start by communicating your needs and expectations clearly. Next, work out the terms and conditions of the partnership that both parties can agree upon. Make sure the agreement specifies sponsorship assets, rights, deliverables, duration, exclusivity, payment, and clauses of termination. It helps to also insert a contingency plan to stay prepared for the unexpected that could impact the sponsorship. In terms of financial services content marketing, you should understand exactly what you can say, who you can mention and how often.

Build Your Marketing Campaign

Once the sponsorship is agreed on, you need to activate it with the most impactful marketing strategy that will give you more bang for your buck. Large football clubs, F1 and tennis will provide you with a library of approved images and videos that you can and should utilise.

Monitor Progress

Make sure you track the campaign, collecting and analysing data as it unfolds. This will help you tweak the campaign to best achieve your KPIs. Identify what’s working and what isn’t to gain insights on future sponsorships and campaigns too. Remember to monitor audience sentiment too. Many finance brands post and walk away, but listening is a significant part of social media management.

Learn The Rules

Just because you become a sponsor doesn’t mean you can do and say whatever you want in your marketing campaign. Sports teams and events have very specific rules and guidelines for sponsors. Even the less popular or smaller teams and events will have guidelines about what you can include in your marketing campaign. This can be posts, images, captions, hashtags, tags and much more.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to  psen@itechseries.com]

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