Five tips on sports marketing…from ManU & Aon

Manchester United is one of those brands that exceeds its category (sports), even its nation (the U.K.) to be recognized globally.  Even if you’re not a soccer — excuse me, football fan — you’re likely to have heard of the team, much as names like the New York Yankees, Montreal Canadiens or New Zealand Blacks are familiar far beyond the confines of their homeland or fan base.

So Aon’s sponsorship of the team is obviously a play intended to reach that global audience.  Better yet, they’re tying in with the club’s charitable and goodwill activities, which are extensive, adding heft to the sponsorship.

Any B2B marketer can take this as an example on several fronts:

  • Look for a sponsorship that has “legs” beyond its immediate fan base or community, if possible…or help, through your own efforts, to expand your partner’s visibility through your own available channels so you both benefit.
  • Make sure your relationship is authentic and provides opportunities to become more than the sum of its parts — as you both very visibly team up in service to a greater good or cause that burnishes your image while, of course, actually accomplishing something positive.
  • Activate it effectively; many times, a business will fail to get the mileage it should out of a sponsorship by not looking at all the possibilities for utilizing what it’s paid for.
  • Make certain it’s the right fit for your firm.  Does sponsoring a NASCAR team makes sense if you’re selling upscale lingerie?  Probably not — though that’s an example drawn from personal experience which got pretty far along in consideration before it was kiboshed.
  • Take the broad view. Just because your sales team swears a golf sponsorship will work wonders with customers doesn’t mean you should outlay for a golf sponsorship, if there are other options that might work just as well with customers — and also score with end users, or consumers, or other stakeholders, too.  Everything’s proportionate, of course: that golf sponsorship may spin gold for you, but do your due diligence first to make sure it’s the best choice available!
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