BACK TO BASICS - BEING A TEAM PLAYER

Sponsoring the community sporting club is a great way for agents to build their brand and local market presence. Real Estate Business’ Matthew Sullivan has done the hard yards to help agents devise their own sponsorship game plan

Nothing bands a community together tighter than two local teams going head-to-head at the town’s park.

It’s this passion that businesses often seek to leverage off when they support their local team through sponsorship.

Certainly, if played correctly, promotional opportunities can flow for agents who look to get involved.

But it’s not always easy. Agents must approach team sponsorships with a realistic and pragmatic plan on how they’ll manage the extra commitments that comes with these marketing initiatives. Moreover, agents must come prepared to walk a fine line between seeking business, but not in a way that impinges on their target market’s leisure time.

JOINING THE TEAM

By sponsoring a local club, agents can increase their exposure in the local community, with the potential to boost their bottom line and drive more business their way.

Since introducing the brand to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in 1919, Fletchers Real Estate says it understands the importance of being a trusted member of the local community.

The 10-office group has been heavily involved in supporting local sporting venues and clubs, boasting more than 15 team sponsorships across AFL, soccer and basketball, as well as a raft of other local community initiatives.

While the group pushes the importance of giving back to the local community, Fletchers Real Estate director and chief executive Bradley Brown says there are many benefits for agencies who get involved.

“It is always in our interests to be involved in the local community organisations as you are seen and appreciated by mum and dad home owners in the area,” he says.

“The more people you are involved with, the more listings you are likely to win.”

Reaping the rewards of sponsorship can take time, and they can require a lengthy commitment from both sides.

This is why Lisa McAuliffe, general manager of marketing and administration at Peter James Realty, in the southern suburbs of Sydney, recommends that agents pick a team or club that fits in with the ideals and identity of the agency.

“At Peter James Realty we believe it is important to give back to the community, and to be involved with sporting sponsorships which fit with our brand,” she says.

“When sponsoring a club for a long period of time your brand is seen as part of that club. The longer we sponsor the club...the stronger our ties become and the more our brand becomes part of the club.”

Where sponsors can be fickle is when they base their marketing support purely on where their own children are playing sport. Whilst these parents are genuine in helping their children’s teams, if the sponsorship only lasts a year or two they’ll likely miss out on the brand awareness that a longer-term arrangement would likely deliver.

SETTING UP GOALS

Establishing a sponsorship is often the easy part. The harder part can be setting up meaningful goals and tactics in order to maximise the investment.

Over the last 24 months Brock Harcourts Morphett Vale, in South Australia, has attributed 15 sales to the agency’s sponsorship initiatives.

“Sponsoring local sporting teams is a tremendous tool allowing us to put back into the community from where we work, play and live,” says Aaron Milford, director of Brock Harcourts. “Beyond this, brand awareness is paramount, particularly when a football team carries your brand on their jerseys.”

“When we sell a property for anyone involved with the club we make a donation to assist with the cost of club trophies, jumpers and other accessories,” Mr Milford says. This ensures the agency keeps a close track on how much business the sponsorship delivers.

Steve Taylor, marketing and partnerships manager at Greythorn Football Club, in North Balwyn, Victoria, has witnessed firsthand how sponsors ensure they get the most from their investment. One of the most important things a sponsor needs to do though isn’t investing enough cash; instead, they must ensure they have the time to give to the team and the club.

“We invite many of our sponsors to a number of team events and we expect them to attend,” he says. “There needs to be a commitment from both the partner and the club to meet the needs of all involved.”

Many agents and principals are already working six and seven day weeks, so balancing business commitments and club involvement can be difficult.

It is for this reason some agencies are developing unique and creative ways for their agents to get involved and showcase their skills.

For instance, agents can donate their services as auctioneers at a club’s charity and fundraising events. This can be a great way to expose the brand whilst showing off the auctioneering skills prospective vendors could benefit from, says Mr Brown.

Ms McAuliffe agrees that it is difficult for an agent to attend every Saturday game. Apart from official club events, her firm always attempts to attend post-match drinks, which are usually held after the busiest part of an agent’s day.

One thing Mr Brown steers clear of is overt promotion.

“We do not employ an ‘in your face’ method but rather subliminal messages in constant branding exposure through the use of auctioneers, charity boards, fliers, gifts and many more [methods],” he says.

Nobody wants to be pressed or pushed for business on a Saturday whilst watching their children play sport, he adds.

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