Championship Level Sponsorship Performance & Playing Michigan’s Card

Charles Reynolds
March 28, 2024
5 min read
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For those who know me, you know I’m a devout follower of Michigan football going back to my days in the dorms with the team, sidelines with ESPN/ABC Sports and as a Manager and practice QB for defensive backs and offensive line.

While I didn’t become a Michigan fan until college, my first game was the vaunted OSU game in 1997 leading to a split championship back when pollster votes decided outcomes, which set a tone (Woodson vs. Boston Heisman favorite matchup).

Getting to the point of dominance has been a bumpy ride filled with a lot of exposure, close losses in clutch games and big seasons with embarrassing stretches, most recently being the botched shortened 2020 Covid season (2-4). 

The Team and Coach Harbaugh had to take a long look in the mirror at that point, and commit to doing what it took to address weaknesses like: 

  1. Not delegating and relinquishing control of the offense (Coach Harbaugh)
  2. Not developing talent
  3. Underperformance at key positions most especially in clutch moments (ie. QB)
  4. Not keeping up with the trends (ie. NIL investment)
  5. Not winning key matchups / games 
  6. Getting away from competitive advantages (ie. physicality)
  7. Battling status quo (NCAA, outdated rules)

Back in college, my sponsorship career also launched as I activated sponsorships on campus and around the stadiums.  Fast forward to working with properties / rights holders and with corporate and agency clients years later as an established professional, and common pains stuck out regardless of property size or perceived resources preventing greatness.

With Trak like Michigan football, we dedicated ourselves to build championship-level sponsorship solutions and luckily have vicariously been there as team extensions for the last few Super Bowl contendenders and champs along with similar results across 25+ other leagues (shout out to the Columbus Crew for taking the 2023 MLS Cup), not to mention brands and agencies. 

We have been thrilled as our champions and power-users have gotten dream jobs, promotions and personal/departmental accolades by not being afraid to do the same exercise: by looking in the mirror and doing what it takes to address known industry weaknesses, specifically:

  1. Not delegating and relinquishing control of the offense
    1. What’s your top-down approach?  Are you a hands-on systems personality who can contribute and learn new systems and adapt to changing times and technologies or are you clinging to how you have done it and learned it? 
    2. Are you comfortable delegating with great systems that reduce your manual repetitive processes while giving clients real-time flexibility to go on the offensive vs. defensively waiting for your end-of-year Recaps?
  2. Not developing talent
    1. Do you have the right systems in place to really allow your team to shine or are they constantly chasing their tails due to living in spreadsheets and disparate systems that keep them defensive and reactive?
    2. If you are, are you training them on how to understand, speak to, present and align around objectives and unlock additional ROI for partners as solutions consultants?
  3. Underperformance at key positions most especially in clutch moments (ie. QB)
    1. Are your managers and leaders able to adapt, change and explore new solutions or are they stubborn and reliant on their own tools (ie. the spreadsheets, threaded emails, messy shared drives)?  
    2. How well do you work with other departments collaboratively and how streamlined is that process?
  4. Not keeping up with the trends
    1. Are you investing in what peers outside of your immediate opponents are doing to succeed and trying to learn and teach new things? 
    2. Are you investing in the right areas  - with a yard marker to measure?  Everyone invests in sales drivers but good partners are hard to find and portfolio sustainability and success comes from current partners. 
  5. Not winning key matchups / games
    1. Focus on excelling at the blocking, tackling, etc. to get there and prepare year-long for those big-stage decisions via repetition and challenging yourselves to get better. You can automate much of the version-wrangling, status updates and deadline chasing-related communications.
    2. Be strategic with your data in one place to make the right decisions in the right spots and not get caught in a time-intensive jam from a teammate leaving, etc.
  6. Getting away from competitive advantages
    1. Even if you don’t have all the valuation performance data, by becoming strategic with your systems, you can make sure you’re ready for the big moments - be it renewals, upsales or moving on from the wrong partners and teammates.
    2. Do you know your department’s math beyond the basics of portfolio growth, renewal %, etc. but assets per rep and progress completing these and how well you can map results back to objectives? 
    3. Do you know how and why you can automate the dirty work to outcompete / outperform while providing real-time feedback and collaboration? Trak saves the average user nearly 50% of their time meaning you can accomplish more with 5 managers using it then 9-10 not using it (Trak annual customer surveys).
  7. Battling status quo
    1. Sports and sponsorship has been slow to evolve the 1980’s mentality.  You don’t win today just by throwing bodies at the wall or piling up spreadsheets.  Turnover is expensive - you will lose key teammates and partners.  You get the proven systems and people to manage them in place otherwise you stay feeling like you’re futile in fighting to come back from a blowout.  Trak’s 2023 Scoreboard reads that 96% of Trak users indicate being able to provide more value for partners - and in a quicker fashion.

Are you competing at a championship level with your sponsorships? 

BET on the effectiveness of doing so (Bring Everyone Together) with Trak.  

To quote Jack and Jim Harbaugh, “Who has it better than us?!?” “NOBODY!!”

Want to Know More? Click below to schedule a private one-on-one Trak Demo.