Three trends in sponsorship you should be aware of.

The sponsorship landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years and the pace of change has picked up, with no signs of letting up. While this increased pace of change makes it challenging for those seeking sponsorship, it also opens up opportunities.

Here are three changes and trends that you should be aware of:


Digital marketing is disrupting all aspects of the marketing space and sponsorship is no exception. Digital marketing makes it possible for sponsors to advertise directly to their target market. What’s more is that they only have to pay when their customer takes a very specific action. Like never before, brands can focus on their target audience taking a specific action that they can monitor directly themselves, in other words, they can now do on their own what sponsorship used to claim as its chief benefit.

Picture yourself as a sponsor with these two options:

Option One: Put your logo on the side of a race car/bike, in hopes that someone would see it, remember it and then make a purchase of your product at some point in the future.

Option Two: You run a social media campaign, targeting all of the attendees at that same gala, but only the ones who fit your target market and only pay if they click a link to your product.

Which would you choose?

Well as it turns out, your sponsors are choosing option two as well. What does that mean for the person seeking sponsorship?

It means you have to be able to prove that you can deliver the outcomes required by your sponsors. Gone are the days of a logo placed on a car/bike delivering enough value to justify big sponsorship money (or any money at all, for that matter).

“Brand awareness” is not enough anymore…and likely never was.


Perhaps influenced by digital marketing, brands are demanding more and more that properties know their audience very well. Age, geography, gender and income used to be enough to detail an audience but now sponsors want to know buying habits, interests, fields of employment and education plus a lot more.

Think about the level of data and specificity that sponsors can get in the digital marketplace and focus on providing that level of detail as a starting point. Something that digital simply cannot offer, but sponsorship can, is activation. You can provide tailored experiences that cater to your audience’s needs and interests, that solve a problem specific for your audience and you can use that to change how your audience views the sponsor, for the better.

Knowing your audience leads to custom activation ideas which in turn leads to the ability to report back to sponsors on the ROI of their investment in ways that digital can’t compete with.

Digital marketing can compete very well with “logos on stuff” and is winning that competition more often than not.


Valuations used to be considered a luxury, for big teams, professional athletes and major events only. Those days are long gone. In fact, more and more, sponsors are sending their potential partners away to have a third part valuation completed before they’re willing to continue negotiations. This is a significant change and it is happening at an increasing rate.

Not only do sponsors need to know the market value of the opportunities they are being presented with but they want to be able to measure the ROI of those opportunities.

Guessing at your value was always a bad idea but going forward it could mean that you can’t compete in the marketplace.

The sponsorship marketplace is a competitive one. It has always been true that sponsorship seekers compete with each other and with traditional advertising. Add digital marketing to the mix and sponsorship seekers need to be focused on providing custom opportunities, appropriately valued and designed with specific audiences in mind.

Darrell James is the MD of KURB – The Motorsport Marketing Agency and a consultant to events, teams and athletes.

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