Handling Sponsorships During COVID with Mike Vogelaar

Mike Vogelaar from the Daktronics Sports Marketing teams joined Matt and Justin to discuss different ways customer can make good on their sponsorship agreement during times when they may not have events going on.

Justin Ochsner on 5/13/2020

Categories: High School Sports

Matt and I recently sat down with Mike Vogelaar from the Daktronics Sports Marketing (DSM) team for a conversation on The Daktronics Experience podcast. We discussed how our DSM team is helping High School customers find unique ways to make good on sponsorship agreements during this time. Here are some of the main points from the conversation.

Justin: Mike, can you give us a summary of what Daktronics Sports Marketing is?

Mike: Daktronics Sports Marketing, or DSM, is a division of Daktronics where we help partner with different entities whether it’s a high school, small university, parks and recreation department, etc., that’s in need of assistance in putting together a master marketing plan. We help monetize the assets that they have. We have the experience, the knowledge and the tools to be able to help build a really effective sales plan for these properties so they can generate as much revenue as possible. And hopefully, in turn, be able to purchase some of our equipment and generate funds for their different needs.

Matt: I’ve heard stories from some DSM customers that have paid off their board and then collected revenue for other things like bleachers or turf.

Mike: Yeah, we have schools that have done that. They’ve paid off the board and then started working on collecting revenue through their sponsorship and advertising with the scoreboard to be able to pay for things like bleachers or turf or whatever different big projects the school has. These schools and these communities achieve something that they normally wouldn’t have been able to do on their own.

Justin: How would you recommend that customers handle their sponsor agreements during this difficult time?

Mike: There are a lot of schools across the country that have advertising agreements in place right now. They might be invoicing their sponsors once a year, once a quarter or monthly. So, at some point or another, your either going to be issuing out one invoice or another in the late spring or early summer or asking for a renewal. Those conversations can be really challenging, especially understanding the current circumstance economically. In DSM, we truly want to be able to help these businesses. We’ve put together some different social media and online exposure concepts and ideas for schools to be able to use to showcase support for those businesses that are at the stadiums or the gyms where there aren’t those activities happening right now. But, hopefully, we can still get the exposure for those sponsors so when it does come time for renewal those businesses understand that the school is looking out for them.

Matt: Have you seen any examples of other schools also using their displays to recognize their seniors during this time?

Mike: Yes. You know, we’ve seen a few different schools trying to do almost like senior photos in front of the video boards and kind of tiering off different times for the family to be able to come out and take a photo in front of the scoreboard with the senior’s name on there. We’ve also seen the state of Nebraska had a great NSAA senior salute hashtag that kind of went across the state, where people were able to recognize some of the different student-athletes that didn’t get to have their spring senior season. So, being able to salute them, that’s one of the things that we really like, being able to see that recognition for the students. But, we feel like there could be an opportunity for schools to be able to highlight sponsors with that as well. Have a senior salute for your local high school or for your seniors, whether it’s for athletics or fine arts, technology, academics … whatever it might be. If you’ve got some school sponsors or school partnerships, try to factor in a sponsorship with the content. Or tag them in the Facebook post or Tweet. These are easy, easy things to do and to incorporate those businesses and sponsorships in the community.

Justin: It sounds like you are looking at different, unique ways a school can use their displays, social media and other things to support their sponsors and community.

Mike: We don’t recommend that you go out and sell social media opportunities to businesses right now. We just want our customers to be able to support their current sponsors. So, we’ve come up with a document of about 7 – 8 different concepts that can be used to support sponsors. We have even received different ideas like coloring sheets or word searches where you’re incorporating a sponsor or logo on that document or even creating a contest for the students. You know, maybe having an elementary bracket school contest, middle school and high school bracket. It doesn’t cost the school anything to do that but, for that business, it’s extra exposure that they weren’t expecting.

We’ve also seen districts that are sending out email blasts to their community, or parents and faculty, and including the sponsor’s logo at the bottom of those emails with either a link to their website or a special promotion.

Justin: Any final piece of advice you would give to individuals trying to handle these sponsorships?

Mike: The key is being proactive. You don’t want to hear from the sponsors first because that means something’s gone wrong. So, whoever your sponsors are, you at least want to call them to see how they are doing. Try to come up with a potential idea or recommendation for a solution ahead of the call. During the conversation, they might even share some different ways to help that you weren’t thinking about.

Learn more about Daktronics Sports Marketing on our website.