Sponsor Partnerships - It's a lot like dating
This research is an investigation into the scope and evaluation of corporate sponsorship relationships with performing arts organisations (PAOs). Based primarily on Relationship Theory, the aim of this research is to develop a framework for investigating strategic business-to-business marketing and development opportunities. The idea is to find a simple lens to explore ways to enrich the current sponsorship relationship beyond the dollars for tickets experience. This investigation is based on behavioural observations that are the result of a complex mix of variables from business and artistic environments. The phenomenological approach focuses on interpreting behaviours from each participants’ point of view and the interaction of those behaviours (Bryman & Bell, 2011, pp16-19). The method adopted was one of comparative case studies built on the experiences of multiple expert informants. Data was primarily collected through a series of semi-structured interviews covering both sides of the sponsorship relationship. In searching for existing best practice materials in current literature, it became evident that many of the approaches suggested by the studies strongly resembled dating. From this the Dating Analogy Model was developed (Appendix A). The findings of the interviews strongly correlate with the framework of the dating analogy following many of the same behaviours one would expect to find in any successful partnership. The key repeated themes were: • Research • Values congruence • Communication • Partnership • Investment of time • Regular evaluation This report finds that the Dating Analogy Model provides an opportunity to examine the interaction of each perspective. While transactional sponsorship arrangements appear to dominate, they also have elements that create deeper, enduring, high value engagements that strongly align with partnering relationship theory. How those relationships look varies according to the nature of the business of the sponsor, the nature of the interaction (in kind, cash or a combination), and the reasons for sponsoring that particular PAO. This report also shows that the high time component of relationship management needs to be balanced against the expected value of the gains. This report also acknowledges that the analysis conducted has limitations. Cost and time comparisons with other trust funding sources were not included in this study. It is also acknowledged that the validity of the Dating Analogy Model would benefit from practical application or a workshop exercise.