Little fish, big pond: the dangers of overestimating your sponsorship capabilities

Little fish, big pond: the dangers of overestimating your sponsorship capabilities

In the dynamic world of sports sponsorship, businesses face a critical decision: Should they swim with the giants and be a small partner of a renowned event, or dive into uncharted waters as the main sponsor of a smaller team? The choice is far from simple, it requires a thoughtful evaluation of the pros and cons associated with each approach as well as your organisation's sponsorship capabilities. This article aims to navigate the sponsorship landscape, uncovering the opportunities and challenges of being a big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a big pond to help you choose the right approach for your business.

Being a Small Sponsor of a Big Team

Picture this: Your brand's logo shining alongside the giants of the game—a dream for many sponsors. Opting to be a small sponsorship partner of a big team holds undeniable benefits. By harnessing the power of their strong brand name, your own marketing efforts gain instant credibility. You become part of an elite club, elevating your perceived stature among your existing audience and forging a deeper connection with them.

The perks continue. The hottest hospitality tickets in town and access to star players excite your loyal customers and create unique experiences that strengthen their loyalty and affinity for your brand. The association with a well-established team or event can also open doors to networking opportunities and collaborations with more prestigious brands.

Yet, caution is warranted. The glitz and glamour of big teams come with a downside: fierce competition and a sea of sponsors clamouring for attention. Standing out in this crowded space requires astute marketing strategies and a substantial investment of resources. Without dedicated efforts to leverage your sponsorship rights, you risk blending into the background noise and missing out on reaping the full benefits of the partnership.

Being a Big Sponsor of a Small Team

Now, envision a different scenario: Your company as the headline sponsor of an entire event. While their reach may not rival that of the giants, there are distinct advantages to consider. As the headline sponsor, your brand has the opportunity to make a monumental splash within the club's devoted fan base. Unleashing your marketing prowess in this intimate setting can create waves that extend far beyond the pitch.

A smaller team often possesses a fervent and engaged fan community. By aligning your brand with their enthusiasm, you can forge a deep emotional connection and cultivate loyalty. Your new partner’s eagerness to collaborate and support your sponsorship can translate into innovative campaigns and meaningful experiences that captivate both existing and potential customers.

Nonetheless, it's important to acknowledge that the overall reach may be limited compared to partnering with a big team. However, reach alone does not guarantee engagement and really, what is reach without engagement? Focusing your efforts on a specific audience allows for more targeted and personalised messaging, fostering authentic engagement that resonates with fans on a deeper level.

Deciding What’s Right for Your Business

The sponsorship conundrum of choosing between being a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond demands careful consideration. For established brands with experienced marketing teams and robust resources, associating with a big team offers the chance to amplify your brand's reputation and leverage existing customer loyalty. In this scenario, the success of your sponsorship more than ever will be determined by your ability to effectively leverage your rights to trademarks and other sponsorship rights.

On the other hand, if your goal is to drive new awareness within a specific audience, becoming the main sponsor of a smaller team can generate unparalleled engagement and brand affinity. Ultimately, brands must evaluate their objectives, available resources, and desired impact to make an informed decision in pursuit of achieving their marketing goals. In addition to deciding whether to be a big fish or a little fish the next question facing sponsorship marketers is whether or not it's better to investment the entirety of your budget with a single team or event or to broaden your partnership portfolio, read more on that subject in our article here.