29 Jul

Growing your partnerships in 2021-22

A 5-point plan in driving new relationships with brands

By Chris Wilson, Head of Brand Partnerships at Ingenuity 

Market context 

If you work in commercial sales or partnerships, you’re probably reading this, feeling like you need a holiday. It’s been a tough 18 months for everyone across the media, marketing, advertising and sponsorship landscape.  Like many, here at Ingenuity, we’ve found most of 2020/21 incredibly challenging, but it has also forced us to adapt and evolve our approach and way of thinking. It’s given commercial leaders plenty to think about in terms of how they sell their rights and assets to brands.

Recently, we’ve really started to see the hard work pay off, highlighted by the current state of the market – with brands now in a better position to make decisions and spend money via brand activation. We have also seen sponsorship deals on the rise and a boost in confidence that partnerships across live events will happen.

In the Ingenuity Brand Partnership team, we are keen to showcase why we believe now is as good time to start thinking big. This can be achieved by developing long-term relationships with brands as they begin to become more active, and partnerships become a concrete pillar in the marketing mix.

This blog will allow commercial leaders to understand how Ingenuity approaches brands on behalf of clients when selling partnership opportunities.

Areas in the brand that are of interest 

We all know the goal posts for brands have moved due to the pandemic. And we have spent countless hours understanding which categories are buoyant, which are geared for growth, and which feel like they’re not quite ready to be targeted given the circumstances. It’s important to spend time researching the right brands to approach – not only for alignment and budget spend, but to understand the values and goals these brands are looking to achieve in both the short and long-term.

At Ingenuity the whole business is focused on engaging bold and brave brands – ‘challengers’, brands with high growth targets, big ambitions and expectations. It’s something we are consistently striving for – asking ourselves where we might find that next unicorn brand. A wise person once told me that unicorn brands are born out of any recession. They emerge, targeting market shares from the bigger, well-established brands that we all know and love. Unicorn categories to watch are: meditech, insurtech, property tech, crypto platforms, and wider fintech organisations.

We’ve also noticed that many brands interested in partnership marketing are owned by large parent companies with NPD (new product developments). This is often the case as they have large tactical launch budgets to spend as they seek to engage new audiences, promote, and sell new product and grow awareness quickly. The FMCG market, for example, is rife with new launches following a quieter year in 2020.

Our go-to, and the sector most receptive to partnerships, is the tech industry. We believe this is due to their regular innovation, the fact they constantly evolve, and how receptive they are in being approached. We’ve seen increased activity here, with the likes of TeamViewer, ZOOM Media and Salesforce all growing at speed. They have also been very active in sport, with TeamViewer sponsoring Man Utd and Zoom partnering with European Tour Golf and Formula 1. Watch this space for similar deals of this ilk.

Interesting types of sports and the entertainment rights available 

We are currently seeing interest from brands in the more bespoke rights sector available in today’s market. Meaning the more boutique festivals or smaller events are seeing lots of interest from brands as they can fully takeover or leave their mark on the event with their experience or activation.

We have seen a lot of late movement too, with brands getting involved in summer activations across live events, music festivals and wider sports events. If you’re a brand reading this and want to hear more, we sit across 100s of different sectors within the rights industry from festivals, music, eSports, entertainment, sport and mass participation events. All of which can help you reach, engage and access specific consumer group audiences with bespoke partnership opportunities across live activation, sampling, promotions and event takeover branding.

The sports and entertainment sectors have seen a rise in interest from brands who seek a key focal point at the centre of the partnership. Rather than just being a badging exercise, they want to act and change the world and leave a legacy and therefore the legacy their partnerships leave behind. Whether the opportunities have a community focus, promote equality in sport/music, are truly sustainable or promote forward thinking initiatives. If you’re a rights holder, this is so important when taking your offering to market.

5-point plan to drive new partnerships  

Specifically, what you need to do as a commercial leader to get in-front of brands:

  1. Understanding your proposition   
  • What are you offering? What are channels? What are the benefits? Are you offering audience demographic profiling?

2. Understanding who will benefit and how to turn insights into targets 

  • Which brands align with your offering? Who will benefit from speaking to your audience? What are their goals and challenges? And is it the right time to approach?

3. Developing your positioning, proposition and how you present the opportunity  

  • What rights and assets are available? If its event based when and where is it? Do you have access to their audience, if so, how, where? Is talent involved and which channels can you promote the partnership within? Does your approach have key values at the heart from a CSR perspective? Does the timing work for the brand and is it focussed on their brand/product and brand planning cycles?

4. External outbound sales messaging and targeting strategy.   

  • The fun bit (well for us anyway!) is presenting your opportunity to the brands using insight, your story, and the benefits of collaborating. Targeting lots of interesting people with a timely and exciting message (#partnerships are exciting, present it that way!).

5. Approach, qualify and convert to meeting 

  • Generate interest by talking to brands, learn from them, understand their pitfalls and reasoning. Question them on their goals and push to get in front of them. If your offering is good enough and you have followed the process, they should agree to meet. Finally, present it in a cool way, and get them interest. The rest is up to you!

Finding the Right partner: Ingenuity London 

Ingenuity has extensive experience helping right holders and brands develop an effective partnership offering, we can help brands find the right partners by introducing them to our clients or taking over the sales element by driving interest in your proposition.

If you’re a commercial leader, who would like to hear more on our tried and tested model, feel free to get in touch!

To see more, please check out our website here and if you’re interested in engaging new audiences or developing a new way to market your brand via strategic partnerships, drop me a line at Chris.Wilson@testing.mc-staging.net to discuss.