A Realistic Examination of Added Value
At its core, added value is seen by both sides as a kind gesture that helps to further the partnership by showing that sides can lend an extra hand if and when the opportunity presents itself.
When discussing added value, there must be a clear acknowledgment that it falls within a grey area. In the sports industry, added value can take shape in many forms: additional activation runs, bonused hospitality, increased presence on social media. The thought of added value is to go above and beyond what has been promised when pen was put to paper.
In today’s landscape, partnerships are growing more dynamic than ever. Properties work in tandem across departments to help build out a wholesome partnership. Social, marketing, ticket sales, community relations, even mascots are all aspects that entice a brand to activate with a property. The key then becomes how to determine what added value truly symbolizes.
This is where forecasting comes into play. To figure out how much added value you could be delivering on, you first must know what the expectations are for the partnership. This must be outlined for the brand so that they have a baseline for what they can expect for the partnership. Much of this is in the “feeling out” process when talking to a partner. Guided questions such as “what are some goals that your organization is looking to achieve?” or “are their certain metrics that you have used to judge successful partnerships in the past?” can help bring the conversation into establishing baselines and carving out both short and long-term expectations for both sides.
“When we look at what a partner or prospect is trying to achieve, we always look to come up with different strategies that match their goals,” said Shelby Jacobs, manager of corporate partnerships for the LA Clippers. ““Internally, we have marketing strategies that we collaborate with ticket sales and other departments on. If it makes sense to bring it to a partner, meaning if it aligns with their objectives, we are happy to work with them on it to add value to the partnership.”
WIth other departments involved, defining parameters become critical. For example, if there is a social activation, working in collaboration with the digital team becomes paramount to determine expectations for engagement, views, and overall reach of a campaign. And since partnerships are slowly but surely moving away from “slapping a logo on it”, more concrete campaigns can be built out. Whether it is a new twist on sponsored content or celebrating community achievements, social is one area where properties can extract added value for their partners.
“Most partnerships we work on our multi-year partnerships,” said Jacobs. “We are happy to work with our partners when they have additional initiatives that they look to activate such as a new store opening, employee appreciation, reaching milestones, product launches, etc.”
After identifying ways to activate, the question of added value then shifts to “how much?”. To many, the simple answer is there is no such thing. The goal of partnerships is to work towards a long-term integration between a property and a brand that is engrained throughout the community. Ideally, you cannot think of one without thinking of the other. Knowing that, properties are more likely to use omni-channel marketing to promote their partnerships. It’s no wonder that so many teams build the association through in-stadium, social media, ticket sales, and community relations at the same time.
Added value doesn’t pull additionally from any one of these areas. It strategically leverages each one as needed in order to amplify the message overall. When done correctly, a property does not have to worry about oversaturating a department’s resources. They work in unison to pull each string as they see fit in order to serve the partnership and enhance the property’s reach.
Now, how do you quantify added value? Here are some things to consider.
Know The Brand’s Target Audience
If you are looking to showcase added progress in the here and now (for a particular social post, event exposure, etc.,) it is important to showcase the reach that the added value generated. For instance, let’s say the added value implemented was an additional run of signage. If the signage was visible within a highlight that received national exposure, that’s definitely a pretty cool feeling that your partner basks in the national spotlight. Yet, the question must be asked how much value that provides for the brand. If the partner is only local/regional based, it behooves the property to showcase coverage from the nearby level that will have a more powerful impact on nearby customers.
Often, a visual can help tell the story in the clearest, most concise way. There are many established platforms that can highlight the progress of season campaigns for you. From the digital/social side of things (Zoomph) to tracking all major elements of a partnership (Trak), the tools are out there to help paint your team in the best possible light.
Added value has continued to serve as the cherry on top for the partnerships industry. Pure and simple, it is customer service manifesting itself throughout multiple platforms in an effort to promote wholesome values and recognition between the property and the brand.
The tide of added value will continue to shift to where it becomes more of an expected above-and-beyond mechanism that demonstrates direct ROI between two organizations. It is up to properties to continue to set high expectations, meet those, and then exceed them further through the platforms that they deem fit.