What do sponsors want to find under the tree for the 2014 holiday season? What would they like to see properties do better?

IEG SR poised those questions to marketing execs at six of the industry’s biggest sponsors: Bank of America, PepsiCo, Nationwide Insurance, SAP, UPS and Volkswagen. Below are edited excerpts from their responses.

Charles Greenstein, sponsorship marketing executive, Bank of America
Wish list: Added value in the form of content with digital and social distribution, coupled with a better understanding of what drives our business and marketing goals and objectives.

What properties need to do better: Identify areas of improvement or best-in-class activations where we could either benefit directly or leverage to drive greater value, as well as business integration with other property partners where there is product and/or brand synergy.

Rich Foster, vice president of enterprise brand marketing, Nationwide Insurance
What properties need to do better:  At Nationwide, we believe sports marketing / sponsorships need to move the needle just like any other part of the marketing mix.  

However, measurement needs in this space require a tremendous amount of work and attribution to specific performance metrics is very difficult. Like most sponsors, finding the secret sauce or "Christmas present" that delivers full attribution of investment and focus against KPIs would be ideal.

Nationwide's sports marketing objectives are focused on brand building, fan/client engagement and philanthropic support.  It's through that lens that we are able to align specific KPIs for all properties at an enterprise level to ensure sports marketing efforts are driving value.

Jennifer Storms, senior vice president, global sports marketing, PepsiCo
What properties need to do better:  More willingness to co-create value – Properties and brands have greater opportunities to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions, including customizable sponsorship packages tailored to brands and their specific needs.

Better access to fan analytics – Properties know their fan bases best. Providing sponsors with access to those insights and analytics unlocks a wide range of innovative consumer engagement opportunities that enhance the fan experience and help sponsors plan, execute and measure sponsorship activation. For example, insight on a fan’s in-venue location and team preference can allow PepsiCo to create unique consumer touch points, such as mobile offers at concessions (e.g. a coupon for a Pepsi and pizza promotion).

Chris Burton, group vice president, SAP global sponsorships
What properties need to do better: Corporate sponsors today are looking at more engaging ways to tell their brand story via partnerships beyond logo placements. At SAP, we look to partner with organizations who want to increase fan engagement, improve player performance or simply increase operational efficiencies via technology.

In 2015 and beyond, content will remain king. Partners should understand that curated content is the new sponsorship oxygen and embrace the use of technology to socialize this content to their target audiences in unique ways.

There is room for more opportunity for properties to better connect their ecosystem of sponsorship partners by identifying synergies between their partner organizations’ desired outcomes. This collaboration would be a win-win for all involved.

Listen more. Everyone wants to speak and be heard but we must listen first. Listening is the key to understanding how we move forward together and strategically. 

J.W. Cannon, senior project lead, sponsorships and events, UPS
What properties need to do better: Biggest improvement area? I think all properties should take the time to learn their client’s businesses…maybe go through a “Company XYZ” 101 training once a year. Not only will it help them understand the challenges their clients face every day, but also what they’re trying to accomplish and how that changes from year-to-year.

Clark Campbell, general manager, experiential marketing, Volkswagen Group of America
Wish list: Sponsorship decks that indicate how our product will be utilized as part of the experience. We want to track the potential customer experience, not exposure. We can always buy media if we are simply looking for exposure.

What properties need to do better: Properties need to provide a sample chart of the exact metrics that will be used to track the product experience, and how they derive those metrics. Then show how the return on investment will work out in our favor.

Sponsorship submissions need to be far more metric based. Listing how many people attend an event, how many vinyl banners, or where our logo will appear is nice, but we evaluate properties on the ROI based on the metrics we track that are important to the sales of our product. Seventy-five non-effective banners draped around a venue does little to engage our potential customers.