This post is by Chris Pinner, sponsorship analyst at Synergy Sponsorship.

It' now only a matter of months before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks-off and sponsors start to see a significant return on investment … at least that' what they hope.

If you already know whether their event sponsorship endeavors will be likened to a World Cup win or group-stage knockout then you can stop reading now. Otherwise, this 5-step guide to sponsorship event measurement should help you understand how to deliver, measure and evaluate a high-ROI event sponsorship of any scale.

So, using Rugby World Cup 2015 as a case study, let' outline an approach which could help…

By the way, this guide brings to bear much of the thinking already shared in the Synergy Decisions white paper.

Step 1: Understand the Pathways to Value

In the context of event sponsorship and Rugby World Cup 2015, this means understanding that the event could deliver value through different Pathways. Brands like Canterbury and Heineken will have similar rights, but will be using them to deliver different objectives. The rights will drive different levels of value accordingly.

That said, let' consider some of the Pathways through which Heineken could drive value:

  1. B2C Brand Awareness – pitch-side branding to reach a global audience via extensive TV coverage
  2. B2B Hospitality – hosting and building relationships with trade contacts to increase listings in the on and off trade
  3. Data Capture – recording fan contact details through at-event activations
  4. Experiential – campaigns to connect with fans at the stadium
  5. Pouring rights – increased sales at all 48 matches at the expense of competitors such as Guinness

Step 2: Identify the Value Drivers for Each Pathway

This is crucial. Rugby World Cup 2015 sponsors must know which metrics influence how much value is being created within each specific pathway. Sponsors should ask whether their value drivers are, for example:

Talking to business customers – If so, how many do we need in our hospitality suite at each match? Of the business clients who join, what share do we want to be "high" value? Of those who are "high" value, how many do we need to convert into sales?

  1. Data capture – If so, how many details do we need to collect at each match? How many are attending each match? What is the likelihood that a new contact converts to a sale? What is the value of that sale? How quickly do we need to follow up?
  2. Maximizing at-event sales – If so, how many sales do we need to make? Where can we sell at the ground and how many sales staff can we deploy? At what cost?
  3. Etc … In the interest of time I'll refrain from listing the 30+ different Value Drivers we've worked on at Synergy over the last year, but you get the idea!

The earlier brands map out these questions, the easier it'll be to:

  • find where and how value could be created pre-campaign
  • change course and track progress during-campaign
  • evaluate performance post-campaign

Step 3: Build a Model

Having successfully navigated Step 2, it' time to enter Excel and use the value drivers to create a model which helps us understand the value created within each Pathway. Let' say that Heineken, for example, is trying to understand the Data Capture Pathway. The global beer brand' model could be structured to make calculations using inputs like:

  • # matches at which we have experiential rights
  • # attendees (by match)
  • % attendees engaged in experiential
  • % attendees engaged who share data/contact details
  • % post-match contacts converted to sale
  • £ lifetime value of average contact converted to sale

Step 4: Find the Best Possible Inputs and Assumptions

With a strong Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 in support, finding and measuring the metrics that matter should feel less like a scrum and more like a kick from under the posts. Whether it be through consumer surveys, brand trackers, data records on the ground, web analytics, or a combination of all of the above, the key to sponsorship measurement is inputs and assumptions you can adjust but believe in.

With our Heineken / Data Capture example in mind, imagine that they have one pop-up activation per match. Heineken could then track performance through, for example, conducting consumer surveys at each of the 48 Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.

Step 5: Interrogate the Model

Once the detail is done and dusted, better decisions can be made more easily with the help of a user-friendly dashboard, which could look something like:

As any Rugby World Cup-winning team will tell you, most of the hard work is done before the main event. Tough questions are asked, different tactics tested and weights lifted before the Final event itself.

Likewise, sponsorship event measurement must be grounded in strategic analysis ahead of time, and a commitment made to analyse and gather the necessary data to find scenarios, sensitivities and breakeven points. With a clear sense of how to drive maximum value, CMOs and Sponsorship Managers alike can send staff out onto the marketing field-of-play confident their team will perform.