Too often, an organization signs on for a sponsorship without a clear sponsorship strategy. Sponsorship marketing can produce attention and strong ROI impacts for companies of all sizes, but it takes clear strategy. While it’s easy to pay money to get your company name attached to a sponsorship, that doesn’t mean you have a solid sponsorship strategy to enhance attention and produce a positive ROI for your organization. With the “Building the Gigabit City” project to brainstorm ideas for Google Fiber in Kansas City, The Brainzooming Group employed a non-traditional sponsorship strategy, creating a sponsorship where one didn’t already exist by:

Since our sponsorship strategy was one any company could pursue under the right circumstances, here are five key sponsorship principles to consider in pursuing a similar path:

1. Stand near somebody else's spotlight

Standing near another party's spotlight is part of why NASCAR sponsorships work. Since a whole army of media cover the NASCAR racing world, a sponsor doesn’t have to try to get media to show up for the event. There has been considerable coverage for the Google Fiber move into Kansas City. Creating Gigabit City allowed us to stand near the Google Fiber spotlight for a credible reason, even though the event wasn't an official Google Fiber program. The Google name drew strong media attention for Gigabit City, nevertheless.

2. Create your own sponsorship property

The traditional sponsorship strategy is to pay money to a sponsorable property’s owner (i.e., a sports team, an entertainment venue, a nonprofit event, etc.). With Building the Gigabit City, there was no property to sponsor. Working with Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC), we created the sponsorship property. It takes more work, but it offers the opportunity to shape and mold what you’re investing in to best suit your business objectives.

3. Pursue a sponsorship built around what you do

The storyline for a sponsorship can be difficult to twist back to what your company does when you’re only investing dollars. Instead, look for a way to put what you do in your business at the heart of your sponsorship contribution. By donating our strategic brainstorming services to the Google Fiber in Kansas City event, The Brainzooming Group and our strategy and innovation services were at the heart of the story, providing the opportunity to integrate it more seamlessly into news stories.

4. Don't ask for permission and don't even worry about having to ask for forgiveness

Most of the Google Fiber attention in Kansas City appears to be forming with little attention boosting effort from Google. While a traditional move might have been to try doing something directly with Google, we instead created an event related to Google where the natural partner was almost incidental. Providing our brainstorming services pro bono allowed us to start, move quickly, and issue a comprehensive report free to anyone who wants it. Since Building the Gigabit City wasn’t authorized by Google though, we were careful to structure an event that would be neutral at worst to Google and ideally somewhat intriguing.

5. You have to activate a sponsorship to make it worthwhile

Even though our initial “investment” in Building the Gigabit City was in-kind (i.e., providing our services on a pro bono basis to design and implement the brainstorming session), to realize the full benefit we had to get behind the public relations effort. Another partner of The Brainzooming Group, Alex Greenwood, was fundamental in representing our awareness-building and messaging interests among the potential media opportunities to ensure we received attention. That translated into considerable television and radio time, shareable third-party stories, and greater recognition for The Brainzooming Group in Kansas City and within the category.

Learn More Today

We're extending our Gigabit City sponsorship strategy through other media appearances. I'm on Kelly Scanlon's radio show on 1510 KCTE AM at 9 am CST, Friday, January 13 to discuss Google Fiber and what it can mean for small businesses in Kansas City and elsewhere. You can listen live on

I also wrote a feature story in the January 2012 edition of The Social Media Monthly magazine on "The Social Side of Speed" about how Google Fiber might impact societal and cultural elements of Kansas City. You can get a printed copy at any Barnes & Noble store, plus check out one of the "Hottest Magazine Launches of 2011" with an online subscription at The Social Media Monthly magazine's website.

What could you do with your sponsorship strategy?

Does our approach instigate any creative ideas for how you could develop more effective sponsorships? If not, give us a call. We can put our years of sponsorship strategy and implementation experience to work for you to realize your business objectives.  - Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.