Sport Sponsorship as a Strategic Tool
Research background. Sponsorship and sports marketing have been in existence for years and now have been greatly expanded and developed. Organizers of major events can hardly expect to receive some funds without expecting to give something back in return. Historically, sponsorship originated as an inexpensive addition to the marketing mix and was perceived as a philanthropic endeavour. In other words, corporations classified sponsorship as a donation and it was not considered a ‘marketing expense’, but nowadays it has changed significantly (Abiodun, 2011; Seguin et al., 2005). The attitude changed with regard to sponsorship when corporations began searching for a return on investment from donations made to various organisations (Meenaghan, 1991; Ramanantsoa, Thiery-Balé, 1989; Wilkinson, 1993). This came after a substantial increase in resources allocated to sponsorship, meaning that sponsorship became increasingly recognised as a valid promotional tool, a business expense that needed justification in the form of Return On Investment (Seguin et al., 2005). In addition, we have to keep track of constantly changing information. Nowadays, sponsors are increasingly more strategic in their approach to seeking value from sponsorship opportunities. Therefore, it is meaningful to understand that sponsorship is beneficial for both sides. Sponsorship proposals, for sport organizations, can help to achieve investment opportunities for business enterprises. For sponsors themselves, sponsorship can achieve even the most important company goals, such as access to a new marketplace, increased sales, (which directly will bring the capability of an organization to grow), increased popularity, strengthened image. Nowadays, sponsors are increasingly more strategic in their approach of seeking value from sponsorship opportunities. Furthermore, it is very important to understand how sponsors decisions will affect all of the organization in a strategic prospect. This could take us to a better comprehension of the key areas to be considered in the development of sponsorship proposals. Many of sports sponsorship proposals are counterproductive, because not taking into account the existing relationship between sponsorship and companies strategies. Results and findings. Organization situation is the firm’s goals, capabilities and resources. In organizations one of the most important strategic goals is to increase popularity, strengthen the image, achievement on the new market segment resources (Mitchel et al., 2013; Lane, 2009). The company can be sponsoring sport events which can bring new markets to it, positioning against competitors and other objectives. Product – market situation is the product category comparison new to the marketplace, growing, maturing or declining (Lane, 2009). Sponsoring can help achieve new marketplace, increase in sales which directly will bring capability of the organization to grow. A company involved in sports sponsorships can send instant messages to millions of potential buyers, generate community goodwill part, but most importantly it can increase market share and profit (Bocse et al., 2012). Competitive situation is how many competitors there are. What are their characteristics and marketing methods (Lane, 2009)? In essence, sport sponsorship has become a powerful marketing strategy used by firms to communicate with vast external and internal audiences to differentiate themselves from competitors (Cornwell, 2008), with the ultimate goal to orienting consumer’s preferences toward sponsors’ products (Barros, Silvestre, 2006) (Biscaia et al., 2013). Companies that are able to successfully tap into a consumer’s psychological connectedness with a sports team and can become more meaningful to that consumer (Henseler et al., 2011), what makes benefits and extension for brands and relationship. Environmental situation is what industry-wide and company–specific environmental opportunities and threats are most important (Mitchel et al., 2011; Lane, 2009). Quinn defines strategic decisions as “those decisions that determine the overall direction of an enterprise and its ultimate viability in light of the unpredictable and the unknowable changes that may occur in its most important surrounding environments.” (Shank, 2009, p. 342). It is a two-way street for both the sports entity and the sponsoring organization whereby the latter, tends to associate itself or its brands with the positive images obtained by the unique personality of the sporting event (Abiodun, 2011). The advantage of image building, promoted in a long term strategy, lies in the impact it has on an audience – target accurately determined because of the fittest event (Bocse et al., 2012). In our research we define the scope of effect of sport sponsorship on sponsors and reveal the sports sponsorship opportunities and links in sponsors’ strategic planning. The research method is content analyses and systemizing based upon theoretical framework.
Keywords: sponsorship, sport sponsorship proposal, strategy.