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13 January 2015

Synergy Gets Closer to True Sponsorship Value

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by Amanda Fone

In December Synergy launched Synergy Decisions, a new tool that aims to answer the challenge faced by all parties in the sponsorship industry to assess the value of sponsorship. After a year of testing with four of Synergy’s clients it is ready to roll out across the industry and help all brands to value sponsorship in the same way that companies and other assets are valued.

The sponsorship industry has taken a long, hard look at itself in recent years and this new evaluation tool is a welcome addition for a sector that is trying, on a variety of fronts, to embrace a new professionalism. Other great things include the ESA sponsorship diploma, the first professional qualification for the industry.

At f1 we’re seeing an increased demand for people in sponsorship with data and analytics skills and management consultancy experience – all part of a widening of skills and requirements that reflect a more demanding and data-conscious client. Synergy Decisions is a very positive step forward in finding a satisfactory way to understand how much value a sponsorship actually creates for a business.

Carsten Thode (pictured), Synergy’s chief strategy officer, has driven this project from conception to launch inspired by the conundrum that other industries apply strict metrics to evaluate their investment but sponsorship doesn’t. Why not? The obvious answer, suggests Chris Pinner, Synergy’s sponsorship analyst, is that it’s very hard to do – progress has been made but using cost-based metrics such as advertising value equivalency (how much it would cost to generate the same level of exposure through advertising), which don’t quite work.

What has made it possible to launch such a radically different tool now is a convergence of factors: an increased awareness around measurement (even McKinsey flagged up that there are not effective metrics in sponsorship); the ability to track activity via social and digital; the continued tightening of budgets so that CEOs are looking for proof points, and straightforward computational ability. The moment has come. ‘We’re intent on introducing strategic consulting skills in order to pin these more rigorous, value-based marketing metrics to the sponsorship industry,’ says Chris.

Synergy Decisions breaks a sponsorship down into the 20-30 different pathways that create value for a brand, things like brand awareness, new business or direct revenue, and it uses these pathways to establish actual values, while allowing for the fact that sponsorship, unlike PR or marketing, is an asset that is used differently by different companies to different ends.

As Carsten says in his introduction to the accompanying White Paper, ‘Sponsorship needs to speak in a language that the CEO and CFO understand, and to present its case with the same level of rigour as any other business function looking for investment.’

The main impact of Synergy Decisions so far has been in prompting better strategic discussions and in encouraging people to think harder about how much value is being created, Chris suggests. Results have become more specific so that adjustments can be made before, during and after activation. The ultimate hope is that it will help all parties to make better decisions, and perhaps not only in sport.

To read the White Paper, click here

To read Chris Pinner’s analysis of the adidas Manchester United kit deal: