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Five sports marketing tips for 2020 - an amazing sports year!

With a lot of energy, I started last Monday after a short Christmas break. Between all the dinners, Home Alone movies and bubbles at New Year’s Eve I took some time to reflect on my first year with JOYConcepts. Normally I am not someone who likes to look back, but sometimes it is good to take a moment to reflect on all the things that have happened, instead of rushing into the next chapter (my trap;-).

And it was fun to do, because it was a great year! A small collection from my gratitude journal:

  1. I had the honor to meet and work with some incredibly beautiful, cool and interesting people and organizations this last year. Also met some great people, who after good conversations and thereby agreements for follow-up, never came back to me with an answer or response. They do not answer voicemails, mails, apps, etc. So interesting! ‘I am sorry, but I changed my mind’ or ‘I am sorry, not for now’ are also fine answers. As an agency you still take into account the possible assignment in your planning.

  2. New partnership deals and cool activation strategies for all kind of different organizations, brands, athletes, etc. 

  3. Developed a unique Partnerfication Model for organizations and brands. Not only to help them activate their partnership but also to consult brands and companies if sponsoring would answer their business needs. And if ‘yes’, which sports/event/team to sponsor and really important ….‘how’. 

  4. Helped organizations to create an effective partnership strategy to renew partner- and sponsor contracts. Named “Agency to Watch 2019” by Fonk Magazine.Started Webinars and online “How to sponsor successfully” trainings for (sports) marketeers, sponsor managers, organizations, athletes, clubs, rights-holders, brands and sports foundations.  

  5. Work in progress: JOYConcepts YouTube channel. Very exciting and scary, because I am a newbie in this 😁. 

  6. And of course, there were some ‘lows’ and disappointments. But that’s part of being an entrepreneur. And it makes me stronger and more creative to do better next time.

Time to look ahead! And what a sports year 2020 will be! Next to the regular, yearly sports events, we have some unique events coming up. To name a few: The Winter Youth Olympics, Formula 1 for the first time in my home country since 1985, Euro2020, the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, the Ryder Cup, etc. 

Here are a few tips and tricks from my side, because I am often very disappointed about the moderate activations around these events and not surprised some partnership deals are not being renewed after an Euro2020 for example. This all due to targets not met, really bad account management and missing activation strategies. And the whole process and stress of finding new partners in a post-Olympic/Euro2020 year starts all over again for sports foundations, rights-holders and athletes. 

Okay, let’s start easy;

1. I always talk about Partnerfication. This means: Partnership+Activation. A successful partnership is a collaboration between the sponsor and sponsored projects. There are so many brands and organizations complaining about the sponsored projects. That really, really worries me. They all experience it as if all the inspiration and initiative need to come from them and agreements are not respected. 

Start on time by once again setting everyone's goals and expectations. Meet in person with all parties involved. The outcomes of these meetings are really important input for the creatives. With this info they can start working on some cool activations. Not just a spread/advertising in the National newspaper(s) to congratulate the team or athlete(s) and 30 look-a-like Instagram posts during the event. This process needs time! Not the creative process, but the implementation process does. 

partnerfication= partnership + activation

2. To all the sponsored projects! Okay, this is an amazing cool and busy year for you guys! But 'keeping your sponsors' really needs to be in your system 24/7! You have to look beyond the event. You want your partners and sponsors to extend their partnership after the Olympics or Euro2020. 

The post-Olympics months are really important. This upcoming October the Olympics of 2024 start already. It takes on average (!) 10 months between the first introduction meeting with a potential sponsor and their signature on the sponsor contract. That means you only have three years left until the next Games in Paris. In the meantime, you have to deal with smaller budgets for your talent programs and athletes who have Paris-2024 on their vision board. Not to mention to keep up with the rest of the world. 

This is thé moment to start managing your account. Be pro-active, surprise your sponsor with some ideas and cool out-of-the box proposals. Show your interest and gratitude. And if the sponsor does not renew their contract after the event? At least you have a best practice to show to new potential sponsors. My model “12 steps to a successful partnership”, I specifically designed for the sponsored projects. It guides you through 12 steps you have to think of and do. It also includes an action plan and timetable for everybody involved. Super handy! 

Good sponsorship answers business needs

3. Even if you are ‘just’ a sub-sponsor, they (the sponsored) still need to take you seriously and give their attention. My advice is to look for combinations with other (sub)sponsors. Work together! I see so many missed opportunities because of tunnel vision and fear. And due to smaller budgets and experience, results are not as expected.

4. Events like Euro2020, Olympics, Paralympics, Ryder Cup, are all international events and deal with sponsors with huge budgets, who have seen a lot of big sports events already and are not easily impressed anymore (aka spoiled). Think in your first brainstorm, really out-of-the box. As if the sky-is-the-limit. Dare! From this on, things can only get smaller but now you show your capabilities and you might trigger them. 

If I were Heineken, as main sponsor of Formula 1@Zandvoort, The Netherlands, I would be really worried if the proposals around this Formula 1 event in May, include a bike ride on an (orange) bikes to the circuit with their international (VIP) guests….

5. To be successful you need to have a 360-degree activation strategy, including some practical must-haves. Sounds easy, but it is not. That is why a lot of contracts are not renewed and why there are not many winners at the table. 

Both my models (Partnerfication-model + 12 Steps to success-model) include all the necessary steps. They make sure everybody at the table is involved and engaged to meet goals, expectations and the highest Return on Involvement and Investment. 

6. Key to more success? A few simple tricks I will tell you with a cup of coffee. 

And I can go on and on and on. But I do not want to take too much of your time. You must get started! The clock is ticking! 

In case you need any help, a creative brain, or a consult. I am here for you! Love to help you out with creative out-of-the-box concepts which meet your business needs. To lead you in meetings and brainstorms, to set up a social media strategy for you and to give in-house trainings for your colleagues and clients to get and keep them all involved. All to make sure you can pop your champagne on New Year’s Eve and toast on an awesome 2020 with great sports (sponsoring) results and lifetime experiences! 


And cheers to a fantastic sports year with only winners! 



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