What is leveraging?
Leveraging is often an important component of a sponsorship campaign.
The idea is based on the notion that a small amount of force applied to one end of a lever can produce a much larger effect at the other end. So, when sponsors support their sponsorship with additional publicity and promotion, the 'payback' is usually disproportionately high compared to the amount of investment (or "effort") applied.
Leveraging can take many forms: raising awareness of the sponsorship by including reference to it in advertising is one method; another is to provide hospitality to key journalists and staff members to underline the sponsor's commitment to the sponsored organisation.
Typically publicity - direct or indirect - comes as part of the package provided by the sponsored party. But to exploit the package fully a sponsor will normally add a programme of additional activity, not necessarily limited to extra publicity.
Where leveraging activity has a response element, say through advertising, promotions or competitions associated with the sponsorship, there may be the added benefit of building contact lists which can be used in follow-up activity, eg direct marketing. There is often the opportunity to invite respondents to join a club or sign up for a newsletter; their initial response can lead on to the chance for the sponsor to build a more long-term relationship.
The important side benefit of all of this for the sponsored party is that by raising awareness of, and interest in, their 'property', the sponsor adds to the market value of the sponsored organisation's offering.
This can become an important factor at the time of contract renewal, when other sponsors may be more inclined to make competitive offers for rights to the property because it has become a higher profile opportunity.
Leveraging is that element of a sponsorship campaign which can make clear what the client's sponsorship is really all about. Simply being seen to sponsor an arts organisation, sports club or charity is fine: but by leveraging their support the sponsor can underline the reasons for their involvement.
So leveraging gives the sponsor a means of sharpening the campaign message. This can be achieved via targeting advertising to a specific audience, for instance; whereas the sponsor's involvement might appeal to a more general audience, it's more often the case that sponsors are keen to enhance their awareness, reputation and image amongst a specific demographic group. So by upweighting their exposure to prime target audiences they can emphasise the motivation for their support, and ensure that their investment is focussed into market sectors which are likely to offer the best reward in terms of sales or positive attitude changes.
The measurement of such effects is the final and perhaps most important element of leveraging. By using awareness and attitude research to track the effects of their leveraging programme, sponsors can begin to assess its true value to their brand. Research will often reveal hidden benefits and point the way to unexpected opportunities for further development.
And cost:value analysis can provide a way of comparing the effects of their sponsorship expenditure with the effectiveness of other elements of the overall marketing mix. How they use leveraging can be a good indicator of why sponsors sponsor particular properties.