Experts for Optimy: talking about sport sponsorship for small & medium businesses

Small & medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. Today we want to hand it over to Cyril Dujacquier, Managing Director of Sponsorship Link, to learn more about sports sponsorship and smaller businesses.

Now over to Cyril:

Sponsorship has evolved in recent years along with the general shift in media consumption. It has moved from a simple branding exercise to a far more complex approach. It is now part of a fully integrated brand strategy and it provides a great platform for brands to tell their story and engage with fans to a clear targeted audience.

Can all companies no matter the industry benefit from sports sponsoring?

No matter their size, their stage of development or the sector of activity, companies can benefit from sports sponsorship. Sport connects with fans on an emotional level and drags a large community of followers that attend events, watch live, look for latest info and follow social media channels. By associating with the right sports property, brands can start a dialogue with a certain community and, therefore, engage with fans across multiple channels.

I have worked with various sports (football, rugby, tennis, handball, motorsports) and I know that each fan shares the same passion. Each sport addresses a specific target group which is why brands need to associate with sports that share a similar DNA. It’s all about pairing brands and sports properties that have common interests and similar audience. The more common points and synergies between the two, the more effective is the sponsorship.

Do you think SME’s see this marketing (sponsorship) approach of an out-of-their-league approach? More targeted to bigger organisations? What would you say to convince them to invest in these kinds of activities?

Basic principles of sponsorship apply to both large and small businesses. In the past sports sponsorship was used by big brands as an additional marketing tool to diversify their promotional activities and reach customers beyond traditional channels. However, the new shift in media consumption has changed the game, it is essential for brands to find new ways to deliver their message and engage with their audience across multiple channels. Sports sponsorship has become one of the most attractive ways for brands to invest in if you compare to another medium.

There is no written formula to convince brands to enter sports sponsorship. Start by doing your homework and researching on the brand. You need to understand the company, the brand, its universe and find a way to align sponsorship to the company’s existing strategy and objectives. So basically, you must find out what sports sponsorship gives to the brand! Remember, you’re not here to sell a product but to find a solution for the business. Once the dialogue is initiated, it is important to exchange ideas and give guidance. Many businesses – small or large – do not consider sports sponsorship due to the lack of resources and knowledge. I started Sponsorship Link to fill that gap, help newcomers navigate the sports industry and make the right decision for their businesses.

What would be the best approach to ensure an efficient management of sponsorship activities? Would you recommend to professionalise these activities with a tailor-made software in order to enhance the ROI? even though their number of activities is not massive?

When investing in sports sponsorship, it is essential for brands to define clear objectives and be able to measure the success of their sponsorship activities. In the past, the success of any given sponsorship was determined by media value and brand exposure. In recent years, sponsorship has moved from a simple branding exercise to a far more complex approach and it is more difficult to measure its effectiveness.  A software ensuring efficient management of sponsorship activities can be extremely effective by collecting data, interpreting findings and giving directions. Without a clear assessment, companies will not fully understand the full potential of their sponsorship activities. You can then monitor what works, what doesn’t work and act accordingly. This way you’re increasing the value of your sponsorship and maximising ROI.

What’s the most interesting result that you’ve seen achieved by one of your customers?

In my career, I’ve had the chance to work with various sports properties across the world. Not only, I’ve worked with some of the industry’s biggest brands but also with SME’s and helped them realise the full potential of sports sponsorship. There are no better feelings than identifying new prospects and convincing them to invest in sport.  Back in 2007, one of my first clients was Korean tire company Hankook. They wanted to expand their activities in Europe and were looking at the best way to enter the market. We considered various football properties. Finally, we started a partnership with German Cup and other international football properties. They then decided to associate with Bundesliga Clubs and Premier League Clubs. A few years later they signed a contract and became an official Partner of the Europa League. This season they signed a contract with the football giant Real Madrid to strengthen their ties in football. It was exciting to start discussions with them at such early stage and see them grow as one of the biggest football sponsors in Europe. Europe is now the most profitable market for Hankook and accounts for 30% of the company’s total revenues. Recently, when I was a sponsorship manager at the European Handball Federation, I initiated the 2nd biggest deal ever signed in handball history.


Our Takeaways:

#1 Companies of any size can benefit from sports sponsorship as long as they make sure that their brand values match with the target audience.  

#2 Sports sponsorship now is no longer just a deal for big enterprises, it can also benefit SME.

#3 Softwares like Optimy help companies ensure an efficient management of sponsorship activities by measuring their success, collecting data, interpreting findings and giving directions.

#4 An effective and thought through sponsorship campaign can gain competitive advantage and lead to an increase in market share.

About Cyril Dujacquier:


Cyril Dujacquier, Managing Director of Sponsorship Link Ltd, has over 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He has an agency background starting his career at Sportfive in Germany and then moving to Octagon in the UK aligning brands to major sports events (UEFA CUP, Premier League, Bundesliga, 6 Nations Rugby, ATP/WTA Tournaments). He then handled various sponsorship roles for international sports federations – AIBA, European Handball Federation – before launching Sponsorship Link at the start of 2015 with the clear aim to link brands to sports events. Cyril has built over the years a solid network of contacts with brands, rights holders, media and agencies. He has worked across various sports and territories with a passion for creating long lasting relationships and connecting people together.

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