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Inking A Deal Is Just The Beginning

Dawn Turner's picture

It has been said that times change and so do people. In the world of sponsorships it could be said that times change and so do contractual needs. So what is the best way to handle this scenario as properties seek to secure long-term deals while brands work to make these multi-year contracts work harder to achieve brand objectives and return on investment metrics that have a high likelihood of changing from year to year?

Signing the contract is just the beginning. The worst thing a property sales rep can do is work hard negotiating a deal and then sit back and relax thinking that the cat is in the bag. This type of action is counterintuitive to building a long-term relationship built on trust and will likely signify the beginning of the end (because in this case I highly doubt a renewal would be considered!).

On the flip side the best thing a property contact can do once the ink dries is continually work with the brand to keep track of their ever-evolving objectives and proactively offer to review their list of contractual elements year after year to ensure they have the best mix of assets possible to achieve their goals. Given today’s marketplace I wouldn’t say anyone is ever guaranteed a renewal, however I would say that properties that take this course of action are more likely than not to achieve that sought after renewal.

So you might say this sounds great for new business relationships and brands that are well-known for their annual activations and asset planning, but what about the brands that are already signed up and haven’t been known for investing heavily in activations? How do you best work with them to help maximize their mix? What happens if they suddenly decide to change things up and do more activating?

Properties that have already entrenched themselves into the brand’s objectives and existing asset mix will have an easier time answering these questions, and it is important to remember that it is never too late to begin the process of getting involved. The starting point is the basic relationship and how well they know their brand contacts/company objectives. Sometimes this can be as simple as having an annual conversation and other times it can be as complicated as needing to connect and reconnect multiple times over the course of weeks/months to get things firmed up.

Keeping track of the dormant brands should be fairly consistent (thus easy), however if you let them slip through the cracks they may create more work for you as you seek renewals in the long-term. The dormant brands that all of a sudden need things they didn’t in the past may catch you off guard, and how you handle these situations could affect the foundation of the property/brand relationship moving forward. This is where I recommend proceeding with extreme caution.

I have seen this happen, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Therefore I recommend the following steps be taken into consideration when this dormant to active scenario occurs:

1 – Whenever possible make sure decision makers are on calls and in planning meetings with brands. If it is not possible make sure that the property reps are trained so they know when to engage a decision maker into the process (this should be done swiftly and quickly!)

2 – Make sure the property reps are communicating with brand reps regularly to ensure all contractual assets are being utilized/maximized. This is an important step that will help set the stage for an exchange of assets conversation the brand may need to engage in once they finalize their activation plans/strategy.

3 – If a property sees that a brand is repeatedly not using a contractual asset they should proactively discuss with the brand team and together determine whether or not there is another asset that should be substituted either for the remainder of the contract or as a one-time exchange.

4 – Properties should not be afraid to suggest that brands may desire additional assets that either didn’t exist in the past or have evolved in recent times (think social and online!). In this case brands may want to either trade in assets or make an incremental investment to secure them.

The more willing properties are to be proactive and work with brands to exchange what I like to call distressed (or underutilized) assets and make sure all brand needs are met, the more apt they are see renewals in the future. These gestures, however small, contribute to the property/brand relationship foundation, so how they are handled will be a tell-tale sign of how the partnership will proceed in the future.

Assisting brands with an evolution of their contractual assets over time may seem like a lot of work on the property side (and it very well may be!), however I assure you it is an important one that will pay off over time in the form of increased business or renewal. Good luck, and remember that the ink never really dries!

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