Sponsorship has always separated itself from alternative promotional mediums by allowing brands to establish an effortless connection with self-selected fans at a specific time and place. The thought process being that the association alone can provide enough of a branding play to justify the investment. However, as rights fees started to increase and demand for measurable ROI became more of a fixture brands started looking for additional ways to bring a sponsorship to life. Sweepstakes, experiential areas, street teams and the likes have all become increasingly more common as they allow the brand to become more ingrained with the consumer experience and get credit for it. But why stop there when one can initiate an even more powerful and specific two-way dialogue with the consumer? It’s 2010 and the next wave of sponsorship activation involves a device that nearly every consumer has on them at all times – the mobile phone.
First, consider some of the facts. At the end of 2008, the number of mobile subscribers had reach 270 million, reaching 87% of U.S. households. In 2009, U.S. consumers sent over 110.4 billion SMS messages per month. That is more than 3.5 billion per day! The numbers continue to grow rapidly, fueled by the emergence of smart phones and easier and cheaper access to unlimited data and text messaging plans.
But the numbers alone do not justify the attention when it comes to integrating mobile marketing into a sponsorship. A mobile phone is also one of the most personal devices that we have. They are literally attached to our hips at all times as they hold our schedules, our contacts and our connection to almost anyone anywhere. It can be used for media, navigation, commerce and more recently, boarding a flight. The uses are never-ending as the technology continues to evolve. What does this all mean to sponsors then?
If you are investing money with the intention of reaching a specific target, why not go the extra step to have the chance to communicate with them on the most pervasive and convenient device that they have? Mobile applications can be varied, but the objectives at hand should determine the appropriate tactics. But just consider some of these simple tactics:
* If you have a sign, why not include a mobile call-to-action such as “text [BRAND NAME] to 67777”
* Create a compelling txt-to-win promotion where consumers can send a text message for a chance to win seat upgrades, tickets, merchandise, etc
* Display a custom game or a voting application so fans can have a voice and become part of the action
The potential for the initial consumer hook is vast, but the most important piece to the brand is the direct marketing that can unfold after the initial engagement. Whenever a text message is submitted, that consumer receives an automated reply message back to his or her phone. This initial message is extremely valuable as it serves as a direct and personal connection. Again, the content and the direction that the messaging takes should completely be determined by the objectives of each individual campaign but some common and effective examples include:
* Include a link to a mobile website to allow for a more rich content experience. Content can be viewed and downloaded, information exchanged and databases can be gathered
* Provide a mobile coupon or discount code to be redeemed online or at a retail outlet
* Opt-in consumers to an ongoing text club/alerts program.
* Promote a custom-built mobile application for download or purchase
Each of the above tactics extends the interaction and if they provide value to the consumer, then the brand is portrayed in a positive light. More importantly, each can be measured and have a specific value tied to it, whether it be impressions, redemptions, leads, etc. The barriers for implementation are minimal and the costs are low relative to comparable marketing tactics and the overall sponsorship investment.
In sum, mobile is everywhere and it is not going away any time soon. When applied to sponsorship it offers brands the ability to personalize, be relevant and immediate and measure the overall impact. It cannot and should not be ignored when one is putting together their sponsorship strategy.