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  • Daragh Persse

Sponsorship - Science or art?

Sponsorship in organisations has traditionally been viewed as an emotional decision based on gut feeling, creative potential and in some cases by ego. In recent years, sponsorship and evaluation in particular has evolved and we now have models and tools to accurately prove the effectiveness and return on investment from sponsorship. This analytical approach allows us to determine what sponsorship is best for an organisation and what the return on investment is – whether that return is determined in terms of the outcomes (brand health, affinity, consideration, loyalty) or the outputs (sales, leads, engagements, sponsorship value etc).

So does this evolution of sponsorship evaluation make the process more analytical or is it still an emotional decision?

Psychologists believe that there are differences between the left side and the right side of the brain and that the side that dominates in an individual will determine that individuals personality.

The left brain is logical, focussed on facts, planned and realistic. A sponsorship professional with this dominant personality would arguably prefer to focus on the sponsorship outputs (sales, leads and impact on the bottom line) – or probably more realistically would find sponsorship a waste of money and opt instead for CTR’s, CLTV, conversion rates and lead generation.

The right brain is emotional, creative, a story teller who focusses on dreams and imagination. A sponsorship professional with this dominant personality will point towards the outcomes of a sponsorship (brand health, loyalty and affinity).

So who should be in charge of sponsorship and what side of our brain should lead the sponsorship decision making process? Do we need a Harry Potter style sorting hat in the marketing department to identify and allocate roles? 

Sponsorship at its best is a blend of art and analysis, a balance of left brain and right brain. Whilst one individual’s personality might drive the decision, sponsorship as a discipline is best served and measured through a balanced approach. Sponsorship is not just about analytics. When buying into sponsorship you are buying into emotion and the chance to make real, meaningful and long-term connections with your target audience. Equally sponsorship is not just about art. The decision should be backed up with analytics to inform and give confidence to the partnership.

In an ideal world the sponsor brand will be best served by the individual who recognises his or her own innate right or left brain bias and would therefore cultivate alternative skills themselves or within their teams to achieve that balance. 

The truth is that as sponsorship professionals we are quite capable of balance – logical and scientific whilst being a lover of art at the same time. We might be happier with emotion or data but using both sides of the brain gives us a balanced approach to the art of sponsorship science.  

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