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Sponsorship Ads: A High-Quality Solution

By

Greenfield Belser, a Finn Partners company
May 1, 2006

Sponsorship Ads: A High-Quality Solution

"Hello, marketing? Our group has signed up to sponsor a conference next month. I learned three weeks ago that we get an ad in the program, but golly, I forgot to tell you. Oh, it's due at noon today."


Sound hideously familiar?

When your internal clients come calling at the last minute looking for their sponsorship ad, are you making the most of the opportunity or simply resigned to the inevitable, persistent request?

Here's a daytime fantasy for you: Imagine if these unexpected sponsorship advertising opportunities were welcomed and not simply another addition to the daily grind. We believe there is an ingenious solution that allows you to mix-and-match components to deliver sponsorship ads on demand!

There's no need to compromise your graphic standards or your firm's brand message. You can produce great looking ads with confidence. However, while increasing quality and flexibility will give you confidence in the process and excellence of the work, it may be no less time-consuming than it is today. That's not good, but hear us out, following this process:

1. Audit the Opportunities
Take a look at the kinds of events your firm has sponsored over the last two years because it will set the stage for a better ad solution. Ask yourself

  • Were they conference or charity events? If they were charity events, what was the nature of the charity (sports, cultural, schools, etc.)?

Create a matrix and put these categories down the left hand side.

  • What size ads did you buy?

Put these sizes across the top of the grid, then add two final columns—one for "black-and-white" and the other for "color." Now fill out the matrix based on your research. You'll want to note recurring commitments also on the chart with an asterisk.
   
2. Rethink the Opportunities
As you survey your ads, note your strategy: did you simply use your ad as an opportunity to say something about the school, community, organization or conference you were sponsoring? All well and good, but remember your message shouldn't be limited. You're not really obligated to use the space for congratulations. It's your space: you bought it with your sponsorship dollars. It is neither immoral nor inappropriate to use it to describe your firm and the service you provide. In short, use your ad the way you would any other ad: as a way to differentiate yourself from your competition.

3. Define the Challenges
In our experience, we have learned that most marketers need ads that

  • can be turned out in a day
  • are ready-to-use—or nearly so—in the most-popular sizes
  • work in black-and-white and color
  • have pre-approved messaging that anticipates—and fills—the occasions for sponsorship ads you encounter most often
  • most important, carry your brand identity—the unique look, color, tone and feel of your firm.

4. Go Modular
Here's the secret: Hire us. No, just kidding. Treat the various aspects of an advertisement—headline, imagery, copy—as interchangeable modular components. These ready-to-go ads can be combined and recombined in different ways, depending on your sponsorship advertising needs—while reinforcing your firm's unique identity.

These component ads, formatted in the shapes and sizes you need, combine standard sponsorship themes—conferences, charity events, golf tournaments—with images centered around your firm's brand messaging. The copy focuses on differentiation and, when necessary, congratulations.

Let's be specific: You have to slip an ad into a program for the Masters. You've got a full page in a 7.5" x 10" program. You already have components that fit the program size. They include:

  • headlines, copy and images for the Pillsbury Bakeoff
  • headlines, copy and images for the symphony or ballet
  • headlines, copy and images for key practice area drivers, and
  • headlines, copy and images for a sports event.

Pick sports. Here's your headline, "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." (Thanks, Coach Lombardi. That's too trite for us; nevertheless, it works in this example.)

You have a sports image because you've already identified sports as a consistent theme; however, it's not golf, but football. So your image is a close-up of a quarterback being smacked down by a linebacker. Indeterminate team. The copyblock reads, "Winners focus. They try harder. They have a passion for the game. They understand the business and the players. Trust & Worthy would like to congratulate Nike for their devotion to winning. We feel the love."

To make this come alive, you have to imagine a series of headlines, copy and images for each situation which, though limited, handle most situations. Once you understand the strategy, you have to resist the demand to stick in a golf image when all you've got is a football image. You have to believe that this will be okay because, statistically, more people follow football than golf, even though more people play golf than football. Whatever. The important message is to resist internal pressure to use a specific golf image.

This is one small example, but the goal is to create a suite of components that can be quickly morphed into ads with messages that are close enough to the event itself yet resonant with the firm's brand message. Yes, you'll have to fight off the "literal dogs." But this idea really works.

5. LOL
Go ahead. Laugh out loud. You'll create a suite of ads that rock. They display the firm at its best, based on key messages about how the firm does business, not about its particular expertise in RCRA, CERCLA or any other uninspired acronym. You'll find yourself creating ads with:

speed, not out of whole cloth. A modular system allows you to more swiftly react to whatever sponsorship ad requirements you have.

consistency because the brand elements are cemented in place.

flexibility, promoting different messages that still retain the look and feel of your firm's brand.

Responding to last minute requests for sponsorship advertising doesn't have to be a crisis. The answer is modular: simultaneously versatile and consistent. Please. Hold the applause