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Digging Deep Into How Sponsor Budgets Impact Decision-Making

Insight into what sponsorship decision-makers might be thinking benefits your planning process, sales approach, communication style and relationship management. Caravel recently conducted a Sponsorship Brand Research Study to understand how brands are making decisions in light of the economic impacts of COVID-19 (to download your copy of the report Executive Summary, subscribe here.) The results reinforced our thinking and at times surprised us. We decided to dig a little deeper to see how the results would be affected if we analyzed the data based on sponsor budgets above and below $10M.

Nothing replaces developing a trusted relationship and asking smart questions to understand the unique challenges and opportunities each brand faces. However, peeking into what decision-makers care about better prepares you for the job ahead.

There are notable differences between sponsors who spend more than $10M annually and those companies who spend less than $10M. The relevant takeaways from my perspective:

    1. Aligning with the brand’s objectives and audience is your number #1 goal. Focus on brand partners where you can deliver a bullseye opportunity.
    2. The importance of connecting to social good programs rises with larger budgets.
    3. The interest in sponsor opportunities outside of sports grows with larger budgets. Smaller budget brands seem to be more interested in sports sponsorships. I know this is surprising.
    4. We talk a lot about the importance of recaps and reports, but it’s not leading the list of most important services. Be sure you ask sponsors exactly what they need to determine the success and ROI of the sponsorship – you might be stunned.
    5. The message is clear – sellers need to be better prepared. Asking smart questions and demonstrating your marketing knowledge is key to working with sponsors regardless of budget size.


Sponsorship objectives

The #1 objective of increasing brand loyalty was consistent regardless of spending levels. The most significant difference in sponsorship objectives was the addition of Community/Social/Cause Marketing programs for those brands with budgets over $10M.

Top 3 objectives for budgets above $10M

    1. Increase brand loyalty
    2. Community/Social/Cause Marketing programs
    3. Drive retail traffic / Showcase products and services


Top 3 objectives for budgets below $10M

    1. Increase brand loyalty
    2. Drive retail traffic / Showcase products and services
    3. Create awareness and visibility


Most interesting property types

We were curious if the interest in types of events and properties would shift as brands planned for the future. Our research told us sports still holds a lot of interest when we look at the overall data picture, which was no surprise. However, when we applied the spending levels, we saw how, not only the types of sports interest become clearer, but also the prioritization of property types.

Top 3 for budgets above $10M

    1. Entertainment venues
    2. Parks & Recreation
    3. Tied – Professional and Collegiate Sports and Fairs & Festivals


Top 3 for budgets below $10M

    1. Sporting Events
    2. Professional and Collegiate Sports
    3. Fairs & Festivals


Most important property provided resources

The resources brands indicated are most important changed slightly based on budget levels.

Top 3 for budgets above $10M

    1. Tracking promotional offers
    2. Assistance measuring ROI
    3. Relationship management


Top 3 for budgets below $10M

    1. Relationship management
    2. Assistance measuring ROI
    3. Recap/Report


Sponsorship Representative Actions

Two responses emerged in the top 3 only when we applied the budget size filter. For those brands spending above $10M, they have a higher expectation that sponsorship sellers have a deeper marketing knowledge and for those brands who spend under $10M they have a higher expectation that sellers are well prepared for the initial meeting.

Top 3 for budgets above $10M

    1. Asks relevant questions to understand needs
    2. Deeper marketing knowledge
    3. Customizes sponsorship program


Top 3 for budgets below $10M

    1. Provides research insights
    2. Well prepared for initial meeting
    3. Customizes sponsorship program


Ultimately, our research reinforced the importance of equipping yourself with insights to improving your preparation, asking better questions and anticipating priorities and expectations of potential partners.

If you need help supercharging your sponsorship efforts, let’s zoom! We provide exactly the services you need to deliver immediate results. Schedule a consultation now. 


About the author: Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.