Customers who play, show loyalty and stay

The number of sponsorship opportunities has increased tremendously over the past decade and sport marketing is now a multi-million dollar industry. With sports events receiving the lion’s share of marketing, New Zealand businesses are also being urged to consider sponsorship of the Arts and other activities.

A report, recently released by the Ministry Culture and Heritage has highlighted an increase in funding for the Arts. Through partnerships, sponsorship and revenue generation, the Ministry has observed the increase of third- party revenue from $50 million to $80 million over the past 10 years in the cultural sector.

The arts are essential to the health and vitality of neighborhoods, cities and towns. They enhance community development, create jobs, spur urban renewal, attract new businesses, draw tourism dollars, and create an environment that attracts skilled and educated workers.

Simon Bowden, Arts Foundation executive director has observed that more businesses are wanting to partner with creative industries through sponsorship, and says it is not always a management directive. “It’s often led by the hearts and mind of their employees. They are wanting to connect and do things that are meaningful for the people of New Zealand.”

However, one of the biggest problems facing organisers of events and activities is they often don’t know who or how to approach funding. Likewise, businesses are looking to use their marketing budgets more creatively to entertain and engage with potential customers.

To encourage businesses to sponsor the arts and community events and to share stories of successful partnerships between Sponsors and the people sponsored by them, Brian Steele, Executive Director of Shoreline Partners, has created a new initiative called ‘Giddy Up.’ It’s an on-line resource aimed at celebrating successful partnerships. It aims to provide how to examples for bringing great arts and events to life that develop long-lasting relationships with businesses that support and grow with them.

“We wanted to find a way for corporates to connect with events that excite their customers,” says Giddy Up Founder Brian Steele. “The key is to make it mutually beneficial. It’s about diversifying the marketing mix for businesses and encouraging them to put money into our community that entertains us. It becomes the conscience of our community.”

Giddy Up helps encourage conversations between corporates, connectors and the performing arts. Steele said he is not presently looking at turn it into a business as he sees it as an extension of his personal sponsorship of Theatre, for over a decade.

“At this stage, we’re trying to showcase people who have done this well but in the future, we may synthesise the 5 – 10 things that successful relationships have in common to help with collective learning,” says Steele.

One such company, Flick Electric Co. partnered with the NZ International Comedy Festival earlier in the year as the Festival’s major sponsor. Their strategy included using the comedians as influencers, who talk about their own electricity experiences for about a minute and a half, with comedians like Laura Daniel, Alice Brine, Wilson Dixon and Brendon Green.

Their social media campaign included postings on Facebook, Twitter and Snap Chat where they actively promoted the Comedy Festival.

Flick general manager of brand Jessica Venning-Bryan said they developed the partnership with the Comedy Festival because the organisers liked the Flick brand. “They liked our brand attitude and all their customers sounded exactly like our customers … so our brands make sense together.”

Flick Electric founded in August 2014 and to distinguish itself from other power companies, has marketed to a younger market with a mostly digital presence.

Its marketing approach so far has been offbeat, funny and irreverent – all of which were a good fit with the Comedy Festival.

“It’s a really genuine partnership and it’s an excellent brand alignment,” says Venning-Bryan. Since the Festival, Flick has filmed an advertisement with comedian Laura Daniel. “This is our first adventure in this space and hopefully we will make lots of funny stuff together,” she says.

Venning-Bryan warns that for maximum effectiveness, sponsorship should be long term and businesses should take a strategic view to their sponsorship programmes. She says that one that is regularly revised has more chance of becoming and enduring relationship.

Steele is optimistic about the scope of Giddy Up, saying he expects to see more brands seize the opportunity to build emotional connections with their customers. “Although we’ve started with the Arts, we think it’s much broader than that. People are also passionate about other things — from music to art to cooking and sports.”

“People are wanting experiences and sense of belonging – but to do that you need to care, and you need to give and by giving consistently, you get great rewards. Personally and professionally I have been rewarded richly in a way that far exceeds any dollars I have contributed.”

“You’re missing out if you don’t,” says Steele.