What are properties doing to stand out from the pack? What are they doing to add value to sponsorship offers?
 
IEG SR asked those questions to marketing execs at four properties: The NBA, Professional Bull Riders, Pier 39 and Chicagoland Speedway.

Three key takeaways: Rightsholders need to offer tailored marketing platforms, facilitate business-building relationships and provide turnkey marketing services.
 
Emilo Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships, NBA
Provide platforms that tell an authentic story, offer turnkey marketing services and deliver business back.
 
The pro sports league centers its sales strategy on offering ownable platforms that allow sponsors to engage NBA fans in an authentic, credible way.
 
“We work closely and collaboratively with our partners to develop custom packages that help tell an authentic story,” said Collins, pointing to the Kia Performance Awards, Sprite Slam Dunk and the Gatorade NBA Training Center as examples.  
 
The NBA also provides value by offering turnkey marketing services. That includes coordinating endorsement deals, producing TV commercials, creating PR campaigns and measuring ROI.  
 
“We try to make it as easy as possible for sponsors,” said Collins.
 
Another way to add value: provide business back. For example, the NBA purchases videconferencing, telephony and other services from Cisco Systems, Inc., a league sponsor.
 
“We do direct business with Cisco, and they can use the story as a case study when they talk to information technology executives,” said Collins.
 
Terry Bassett, executive vice president, sales and partnerships, PBR
Hire a dedicated staffer to manage social media activation
 
The international bull riding organization in December 2011 hired a dedicated staffer to manage Ford Division’s social media programs. The automaker titles the Built Ford Tough Series, the PBR’s top-tier series.
 
The PBR has since expanded the role of the position to other sponsors.
 
“We have account managers who manage relationships, but now we have a social media account manager who helps partners build their social media message,” said Bassett.  
 
The staffer touts sponsor activity through the PBR’s social media program and provides content for sponsor initiatives.
 
For example, the PBR recently gave video content to Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. The content was captured from video cameras embedded in the dirt at PBR events.
 
“Every company is spending time and money trying to figure out the social media space, because that is where the world has shifted.”
 
Those efforts have paid off: The PBR Facebook page gained more than 900 likes within 48 hours after posting an image of a handsome cowboy wearing Wrangler jeans. The apparel brand is one of the PBR’s top-tier sponsors.  
 
“Was it gimmicky? Yes. Did it work? Hell yes,” said Bassett.
 
Beth Schnitzer, vice president of strategic alliances, Pier 39
Facilitate B2B business; support national marketing programs, provide incremental visibility.  
 
As a shopping center and tourist destination, San Francisco’s Pier 39 sells marketing solutions based around visibility and on-site sales.  
 
But knowing that many companies use sponsorship for B2B objectives, the organization now offers client hosting opportunities.

Case in point: Pier 39 will host VIP viewing events for sponsors and their guests around the Oct. 4-8 San Francisco Fleet Week air and water show.
 
“We don’t have hospitality like sports teams, so we developed it as a value-add,” said Schnitzer. 
 
Pier 39 also facilitates business-building opportunities between sponsors and its tenants. For example, the organization earlier this year hosted a breakfast for Wells Fargo & Co. and merchants. The financial services company used the event to educate merchants about its credit card processing service.
 
“Credit card processing is so competitive. The partnership gives them a platform to have one-on-one discussions with merchants they may not normally be able to line up,” said Schnitzer.
 
In addition to B2B platforms, Pier 39 also adds value by offering activation programs that support its sponsor’s national marketing initiatives.
 
For example, the tourist attraction last year developed an activation platform that supported Verizon Wireless’ NFL sponsorship and its partnerships with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. The enter-to-win Football with the Pros on Monday Night event featured appearances by Patrick Willis of the 49ers and Jacoby Ford of the Raiders, as well as product demos and other activities.
 
Pier 39 put the program together in six weeks at the end of the NFL lockout.
 
“Adding value is about being flexible and nimble by working with partners that may not necessarily have an activation idea in their head,” said Schnitzer.
 
Another way to add value: provide more visibility. Pier 39 in January installed a high-definition TV near a garage elevator to provide sponsors more exposure. The TV runs sponsor ads and recognition spots.
 
Pier 39 has since rolled out two more TVs, said Schnitzer.
 
Scott Howard, vice president, partnerships, Chicagoland Speedway
Offer integrated marketing platforms that enhance the fan experience; surprise and delight by offering incremental inventory 
 
Rather than selling a list of assets, Chicagoland Speedway offers tailored packages that provide tangible value and move the marketing needle.
 
“One of our top priorities is over-delivering for our partners, and that starts with a clear understanding of their particular objectives. It’s no longer about selling a menu of assets, but engaging brands around ideas and a solid integrated plan to help their business,” said Howard.
 
The speedway accomplishes that objective by offering marketing platforms that enhance the fan experience. For example, the track supports Geico’s title of a camping area by providing complimentary newspapers to campers. The newspapers are branded “compliments of Geico.”
 
“We wanted to provide added value for Geico and wanted the added value to be aligned with their goal of fun fan experiences,” said Howard.
 
The speedway also adds value by providing incremental inventory. For example, the track supported STP’s title of a NASCAR Nationwide Series race by giving the oil brand exposure on stairs leading up to the grandstands.
 
“We surprised them with additional creative on-site branding without an incremental investment. They loved seeing this when they arrived and it was a marque entrance statement for fans to see,” said Howard.