Does sponsorship provide a good return on investment?

As a marketing tool, does sponsorship really deliver tangible benefits? My Business asks Steve Scanlan of Brisbane-based recruitment and HR firm Recon Solutions to pen some thoughts on his experience sponsoring Brisbane boxer, Jeff Horn.

Many CEOs I know personally really struggle with the concept of sponsorship: immediately their thoughts go to ‘How much will it cost me’ and ‘What do we get out of it?’

I can honestly say, I have never taken that approach to sponsorship and pretty much shoot straight from the heart when it comes to what Recon Solutions supports.

Our business has been very successful over the past few years, experiencing significant growth, and I strongly believe that we are working in a new landscape, a new world, where brands and businesses have the power to influence change in our communities and make a real difference.

If businesses are in a position to support community causes, from NFP organisations to sporting teams and individuals, then they should. Cost and ROI should not be at the forefront of the decision-making process.

Take my experience with Jeff Horn (pictured on the left with Steve) for example. For anyone who’s been living under a rock lately, Jeff is about to take on the legend and world champion, Manny Pacquiao, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on 2 July 2017. I made a decision over three years ago to support this little-known Brisbane school teacher turned boxer when I saw him train at my local boxing club and was impressed by his dedication.Brisbane boxer Jeff Horn with sponsor Steve Scanlan of Recon Solutions

In all honesty, Recon was not in a great financial position at the time, but I was committed to supporting him when I saw a guy who was so humble, determined, so down-to-earth and just an all-round good Australian. He resonated with me.

I recognised the potential and determination in Jeff as soon as I met him, not to mention the technique and skills he displayed. He just came across as the genuine package deal and I felt compelled to help, even though financially we probably shouldn’t have been spending funds we didn’t have to.

But, I couldn’t understand how he was fighting top-15 world opponents and still teaching. I knew, for him to realise his dream, I needed to step in and enable him to go full time.

I believe the initial sponsorship from Recon allowed Jeff to quit his job and train full time. And at this point, I was still not concerned about the ROI we would receive from the sponsorship.

The benefit of this arrangement was helping Jeff become a bona fide athlete and allowing me to continue to follow him and watch his progress, rather than financial. I took a real interest and felt my support had been way more than just monetary.

Almost two years ago to the date, I took Jeff to Vegas to watch the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight, and now in less than two months, he will be facing up to the Champion himself – in his home city – and that for me (and probably for him) is priceless!

With Jeff’s development as an athlete and the impending fight, the one aspect of this sponsorship which Recon is certainly utilising is the opportunity to bond with our clients, associates, friends and employees at the event.

Bringing everyone together to celebrate a major success is helping Recon develop and nurture our client relationships. It enhances staff morale to be involved, and most importantly, it inspires and encourages other businesses to sponsor not for ROI, but to be a part of something special in the community.

On the day of the fight, we will be sharing the celebrations with over 300 of our nearest and dearest.

We have 70 VIP tickets and another 240 great seats which we are offering to as many people as we can. This provides us with valuable bonding time with our clients and team, and will be such a wonderful journey to take everyone on – a ‘money can’t buy’ experience.

I would absolutely advise other CEOs to take note and invest in great causes where you operate. I believe businesses now have the power to influence change in our communities, and if they can help and give back, they should.

Finding something you are passionate about, whether it’s sports, a special cause, or something with a personal connection, is most likely going to be the best bet. More importantly though, don’t expect any return, as not every sponsorship will turn out to be a fairytale story like [Jeff’s]!

Of course, let me also add that while this sponsorship started at the very beginning with little ROI expected, the world’s eyes will be on Suncorp Stadium on 2 July and we will be lucky enough to have major exposure for the Recon brand, which is a bonus.

The event also provides us a platform to engage our social media communities and the media to tell our story, so I do believe Recon can capitalise from this. However, I am immensely proud that [we've been] in it from the start and for the right reasons.

So all in all, for myself and for Recon Solutions, we see sponsorship as a win-win situation.

Whether Jeff wins or loses, it has been a great ride and just seeing him fight Manny is such a thrill. This is a great testimony that - with the right attitude, training and support - anything is possible. That’s what Recon is about: we work hard, build great relationships, and we are kicking more and more goals everyday.

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