Gold, silver and bronze- great for sports, but not corporate partnerships

Proportion
Categories: Blog

The Commonwealth Games had the nation enthralled with how many times Australians climbed the medal podium. Now that the excitement of thrashing Lesotho or the Isle of Man has died down, it’s time to reflect on how podium positions have infected thinking on corporate partnerships.

Once upon a time it was very common to present partnership ‘options’ to a corporate in the form of gold, silver or bronze packages. It was a particular favourite of sporting organisations who wanted sponsors and could offer varying degrees of commercial benefits.

But I’ll bet that Cricket Australia didn’t offer gold, silver and bronze packages to Channel 7 for TV rights. I’m sure that the final deal was the result of painstaking negotiations to find a point where everyone’s needs were met.

Be honest now- the last time you presented gold, silver and bronze packages to a prospective corporate partner, did they stifle a yawn? Was your boss disappointed when you came back empty handed?

There are 3 fundamental problems with taking the podium position approach to corporate partnerships.

  1. When you present your medal packages, you are turning your offering into a commodity. It’s like offering three ready-made meals and asking them to choose one, when you haven’t bothered to ask if your customer is a vegetarian.
  2. Commodities are easy to replicate- just ask a farmer trying to sell wheat in the international market. If you want a long-term partnership that won’t get ‘refreshed’ every year and swapped for a new one, then don’t offer a commodity.
  3. Valuing each gold, silver and bronze package can be very difficult. It’s pretty easy to offer the whole buffet for the gold package and a single dish for the bronze package; but conveying the value on the silver package is problematic. It’s easy for a corporate to see what you don’t get, but hard to understand why you’re paying extra for something that’s only marginally better than bronze. Ultimately, if a partner isn’t convinced of the value they’re getting through the partnership, that’s not a good basis for a relationship.

Taking a more strategic approach to corporate partnerships will yield much better results than presenting the traditional medal packages. Here’s a few tips if your boss is badgering you to create gold, silver and bronze packages for a corporate partner:

  1. Approach the partnership like a relationship and take the time to get to know your partner’s needs, interests and goals.
  2. Understand your own assets and the benefits you can offer. But instead of packaging them up into ready meals, be prepared to mix and match into a la carte, to create the best synergies with your partner.
  3. Create a partnership that is unique to the two of you, that meets the partner’s objectives and advances your mission. Then the partnership will become a vehicle that you collectively own and that’s hard to replicate. It’s a much better use of your resources than having a partnerships portfolio that ‘refreshes’ every year.

Ultimately, if you want a long term, significant corporate partnership, then leave the medals on the podium and build a meaningful relationship with your corporate. If you’d like to know more about getting ready for corporate partnerships, then contact us at info@stellarpartnerships.com

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