PrintIT Resellerasks some of the print and imaging industry’s leading lights to share their experiences and views.
What sponsorship activities have you been/are you currently involved in?
Andrew Jones, Sales Director, 1st Office Equipment:“Currently 1st Office is a main sponsor of Bristol Academy Women Football Club (BAWFC), who play in the Women Super League (WSL) 1.”
Julietta Khoshaba, Group Marketing Manager, Xeretec: “Xeretec sponsors British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) Racing driver Dave Newsham. We have supported him for three seasons.”
Gary Downey, Group Marketing Director, Balreed: “Balreed is the shirt sponsor of the Kent County Cricket (KCC) team for the 2015 season, and this is something we have done for the last two years. Our logo is displayed across the chest of the white county shirt. As part of our sponsorship arrangements we also have perimeter pitch advertising signage and branding on all literature and communications that KCC produces in print and digital form, including its website, emails, match day programmes and so on. We also have match day hospitality and use of KCC facilities outside the season.”
Darrell Minards,Head of Marketing Communications, Xerox Europe: “Xerox currently has two main sponsorships, Cirque du Soleil and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), along with a smaller sponsorship of Expo 2015 in Milan. The Cirque du Soleil sponsorship involves activation at the various Big Top and Touring shows across Europe, and the WTA involves activation at key tournaments across Europe.”
Jeremy Spencer, Marketing Director,Toshiba TEC UK: “As one of the official sponsors of the Commonwealth Games last year, Toshiba TEC UK provided Glasgow 2014 with a comprehensive, fully supported office automation solution in the run up to and during the Games. Six hundred of our MFPs and desktop printers were provided and supported, producing 11 million prints. Following on from this extremely successful execution of the games, we are pleased to be involved in Toshiba Corporation’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup.
“Toshiba has a long affiliation of working with sporting bodies and rugby is a particular favourite with our colleagues in Japan. Toshiba Corporation previously sponsored the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and 2011 and this year has extended that sponsorship to include the Japanese team and will support them throughout the tournament.”
What were the reasons behind your decision to sponsor?
Andrew Jones: “We first got involved with BAWFC after being approached by a director of the club who was also one of our clients, asking if we could assist with a small sponsorship package. Initially this took the form of a pitch board, sponsoring a player and a match.
“As we got more involved with the club and were impressed with the professional quality of the play and determination of the team, we decided to increase our investment for the 2014 season and renew our sponsorship as a shirt sponsor. This has given us two pitch boards by each goal, a sponsored player and a sponsored match. With the rapid growth of media coverage in women’s football, broadcasts on BBC, BT Sport, ESPN and Eurosport, this has given us an immeasurable level of TV exposure.”
Julietta Khoshaba:“The BTCC is one of the most thrilling motorsport events to watch. It’s ultra-competitive, the tension is gripping and the closeness of the racing is knuckle-bitingly dramatic; at times, it’s just like a day in the office! After all, success is about team work, preparation, determination, focus, discipline, having the right people and sharing a burning desire to win, so it is an appropriate investment.”
Gary Downey:“Proximity to our HQ, relevance to our target market, affordable price, opportunity to raise our profile and generate new business, interest in the sport from the staff… there are lots of reasons to sponsor KCC.
“The major factors are Kent County Cricket’s ground in Canterbury is very close to our head office in Maidstone; supporting the county’s team when our main operations are based there makes a lot of sense; and our staff find it very convenient when hosting events or generating attendance from local businesses around the county. Plus, not only is cricket our MD’s favourite sport, it is also a great sport in terms of the fans it attracts and the atmosphere at the ground on match day. The sort of people we want to do business with are often cricket fans.”
Darrell Minards: “Xerox’s sponsorship strategy is designed to demonstrate the Xerox brand story through product/service showcase with each sponsorship partner; develop client and partner relationships through attendance at events; and utilise partners’ intellectual property in marketing activity.
“The Xerox approach to sponsorship is more than just a logo on a banner. We work behind the scenes to create memorable experiences for customers that they then want to share with their peers.”
Jeremy Spencer: “Toshiba has a long term heritage in rugby and this tournament gives us an opportunity to participate in another world class event. This association spans the breadth of our business domains, including social infrastructure, air conditioning, multifunctional printers, digital products and medical imaging devices. We will also support the tournament by providing products to help run the event. Above all, it offers us an excellent opportunity to raise our brand awareness across all these divisions.”
What are the benefits and pitfalls of sponsorship?
Andrew Jones: “We have been careful in selecting BAWFC, as we had to ensure we wouldn’t upset any existing or potential clients with our involvement, or risk any conflicts of interest. As Bristol are the most southerly team in the WSL, we were confident we would not risk any upset within the South West and Wales areas that we work in, and would equally be able to invite and entertain clients at all home matches. This has also proven to be a successful social event for staff members who regularly attend games with their families.”
Julietta Khoshaba:“One of the benefits is that the BTCC is one of the most popular and regularly viewed sports. It has a huge, loyal fan base and attracts an audience outside the UK, too. Approximately 20 million people in the UK watch the entire race season, so the sponsorship gives Xeretec fantastic, consistent visibility in front of thousands of people. However, establishing the tangible ROI and determining to what extent it increases our brand awareness, or whether it influences buying decisions, is harder to ascertain.”
Gary Downey:“The pitfalls are a little like advertising; you can’t simply spend money and expect that to bring in the business. You need to put a lot of effort in and combine other sales and marketing activities to maximise the benefits of sponsorship. Raising our profile and generating a pipeline of new contacts for new business are the chief benefits.”
Darrell Minards: “The main benefits include gaining business, brand awareness and understanding and developing relations with customers and other partners. The pitfalls are limited, but we need to keep focused on ensuring that we are telling our brand story through the sponsorship and that it does not simply become a hospitality play.”
Jeremy Spencer: “It offers a great opportunity for us to engage with our customers and channel partners at an event that is extremely popular amongst our customer base. That said, never underestimate the amount of time and work that goes into this type of sponsorship – and never leave things till the last minute!”
What has or has not worked out well for you?
Andrew Jones: “Due to the success of the club in the 2014 season, we have now renewed our sponsorship but this time have committed to a three-year period for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. We view this investment as a massive opportunity to promote our own brand awareness. Networking with other businesses at the games has already reaped its rewards, with several new
business contracts being gained.” Julietta Khoshaba: “What works well is that the sponsorship package enables us to invite clients to a race. Seeing how excited they are at being invited is a really good feeling. A race is also a great chance to build an even stronger bond with our clients. In terms of downsides, the great British weather can occasionally mean rain. However, that can make a closely fought race even more exciting!”
Gary Downey: “What doesn’t work is when you provide an open invitation for staff to use a facility like this. There needs to be accountability and lots of planning for the season and what you are going to do to maximise the return on this investment.
“Marketing and the local sales account managers work very closely, and this work begins very early – the week before the first match isn’t a great idea! Getting the right balance at each match-day hospitality event is obviously critical; no-one wants to come along to watch the game and have to talk shop the entire way through.”
Darrell Minards: “What has worked: ensuring we amplify the story across our various media channels, utilisation of the partnership in key Xerox ‘owned’ events and running the partnerships across. What has not worked: aligning activities doesn’t always have a natural timing fit between the sponsorship and the business need or priorities.”
Jeremy Spencer: “In relation to the Commonwealth Games, the engagement we had with our direct and indirect customers and the feedback we had from them after the event was fantastic! “Our ability to carry out an undertaking as large as that without flaws was a massive boost for our organisation and had a huge impact on the business, both professionally and from a morale perspective. Our people came together and worked tirelessly to deliver excellent service and support and work alongside other suppliers whilst realising their needs and requirements.”
How have you leveraged the opportunity to maximise your investment?
Andrew Jones: “The cherry on the cake for us was the success of the club in the UEFA Womens Champions League, getting through the first round to then be drawn against Barcelona, who they beat, making them the only English club left in the Champions League to make it through to the quarter finals.
“The additional media frenzy this caused was incredible and we have gained tremendous exposure on TV and through social media.
“Our sponsored match this season is on 9 May against Arsenal Ladies FC, which promises to be another exciting game with an immense pre-match media build-up.”
Julietta Khoshaba: “We use it for corporate entertainment. We’re allowed four guests per race, the hospitality is excellent and you get a great behindthe-scenes experience. There’s also the excitement of going to a high-profile, adrenalin-filled day, which makes for a terrific way to build new relationships or cement old ones. Thanks to this sponsorship, we’ve had some fantastic days out and spending time together helps us get to know our clients even better and on a more personal level.”
Gary Downey: “By taking the time to plan a whole mix of activities around the shirt sponsorship, we have managed to raise our profile and capture incremental business too. The KCC team have been tremendous to work with; they understand the commercial requirements and that we have to generate a return from this investment.”
Darrell Minards: “Across multiple channels: social media, events, in-house showroom, competitions, PR, web.”
Jeremy Spencer: “Where the Games were concerned, through increased brand awareness definitely.
“Where the Rugby Is concerned, we are just beginning to kick this off now (no pun intended) and from April we will start running incentives and promotions across our business units.”
What do you see as the key benefits for dealers in going down this route?
Julietta Khoshaba: “There’s the association with a sport that’s popular among a huge fan base; the fact that there are 11 races per season means we’re in front of race attendees and viewers at home for seven months; plus, of course, all of the race footage that’s shared via social media. Finally, it’s a fun-filled network and relationship building opportunity.”
Gary Downey: “If they are committed and put the time and effort in there are benefits to this, but it really isn’t something to play at. Often, smaller, local sponsorship aligned with networking activities can be very effective at creating new business opportunities.”
As a manufacturer, how does sponsorship benefit your dealer network? Have you got them and their customers involved?Darrell Minards:“Xerox’s channel partners participate in, and directly benefit from, Xerox’s sponsorships. Channel partners’ customers attend events (Cirque du Soleil performances, WTA events) and, as they are our customers, channel partners themselves are often our guests at sponsored events.
“I’m also sure many of our channel partners are engaged in sponsorships for many of the same reasons that Xerox is.”
Jeremy Spencer: “All our dealers seem very keen to participate and clearly are keen on the sport of rugby. It allows us to show them and the wider world the breadth of our portfolio and the strength of our brand in action.
“We will be introducing opportunities to participate in the games, which our dealers can take advantage of, and we hope they will stand alongside us and be proud to be a part of the Toshiba brand.”