3 Ways to Integrate Your Sponsors into Your Loyalty Program
Thursday November 5, 2015
So your club is on the front edge of fan engagement and installed a loyalty program for your ardent supporters. Congratulations, this is a great step in rewarding your fans, while hoping to nudge their behaviors and capturing some key data for your marketing, operational or ticket sales efforts. However, you might be neglecting a huge potential stakeholder in this process: your sponsors. Sponsors can play tremendous roles in the success of your loyalty program.
Here are three ways your club can integrate your valued sponsors into your loyalty program in the hopes of strengthening your program and augmenting value to your sponsors.
1. Engage Your Sponsors for Program Rewards
Your loyalty program will only go as far as the quality of rewards it offers to your fans. Offer lame rewards with no perceived value to your fans, and say goodbye to quality engagement. Offer a limited number of rewards, or put them to an attainment level out of reach to most of your fans, and you will achieve the same negative result. The sweet spot is to offer a broad spectrum of rewards that will not only appeal to all your fans, but also be attainable to a majority of them. Now the best type of rewards to offer are the ones of littlest cost to the club, namely access & experiences that only a sports club can provide: attend a training session, be on-field for warmups, a private meet & greet with a coach or player. There is a finite number of opportunities with those rewards, so the cost to earn these must be reflective of that. But for lower attainment rewards, clubs should tap another source of no or low-cost rewards, your sponsors.
Your sponsors can be a great source for rewards like hotel/resort nights, dining or retail gift cards, authentic merchandise, automotive services, airline vouchers, you name it. Think of loyalty rewards when crafting sponsorship deals or barter additional sponsorship elements: an additional program ad or website banner for rewards. Fans will love having a wide range of awards to attain for, and sponsors will value the exposure and opportunity to have fans try their product.
2. Use Loyalty Programs to Drive Traffic to Sponsors
One of the major aims of your loyalty program should be to provoke or incentivise optimal fan behavior: showing up to games early, spending more in the concourse or team stores, or buying additional tickets.
Connecting your fans with sponsors is another of those behaviors you can nudge your fans into with your loyalty program, and sponsor involvement is a way to do it. Sponsors will value the additional impressions and fans will value the loyalty points for the engagement, a win for both parties. Award points for interacting with an in-venue sponsor display or activation, or by finding a code from a concourse sign, program ad, or sponsor social media feed. Outside of the stadium, use loyalty to encourage fans to visit a retail partner and checking-in on their smartphones. For your restaurant or pub sponsors, take it a step further and reward bonus points to fans for checking-in during an away match, or pre/post-game to a home date. Clubs then have immediate tangible results to present to a partner on how their club sponsorship drives fan business.
3. Turn Your Loyalty Program into a Sellable Sponsorship Asset
Now that you have engaged and launched a successful loyalty program that is engrained with your members, they should be constantly interacting with your program throughout the season. They’ll be checking to see their points balance, discovering new ways to earn points, and seeing what unique rewards their points can be redeemed for.
Organically, you now have created a new fountain of thousands of prime fan impressions. All of these loyalty touches have incredible value to a sponsor that might want to associate their brand with your loyalty program. This could especially be the case if that sponsor brand aligns itself in a similar loyalty, exclusivity, savings, or technology sphere. So, just as you would sell presenting or naming rights to a part of your venue, or to a fan initiative or marketing promotion, you can make your loyalty program a sellable sponsorship asset.
Clubs are constantly looking for new ways to involve their sponsors and create valuable sponsorship assets, so selling naming rights to your loyalty program is a perfect extension of that. Position your program correctly, find the right partner, and those naming rights could even pay for the entire cost of the program from software to operations and manpower.
1. Engage your sponsors for program rewards.
2. Use loyalty programs to drive traffic to sponsors.
3. Turn your loyalty program into a sellable sponsorship asset.
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