You’re ready to sponsor a music tour. But, you have some reservations about how your brand can pull it off, and concerns about affording it all.
We get it. Executing a sponsorship on a massive, multi-city music tour like Vans Warped Tour can seem intimidating, like something you’d need limitless funds and resources to do correctly.
But, here’s the reality (and where we can help!): whatever your perceived limitations – staffing, logistical bandwidth or media – you absolutely CAN create an amazing program that delights fans and delivers value – before, during, and after the tour. Best of all, it can be efficient, effective, and economical. All it takes is the right amount of planning, savvy, and a little bit of help.
Top tours and festivals are eager to work closely with sponsors to create integrations and partnerships that fans can’t get anywhere else. For 22 years, 4Fini has done just that, assisting brand partners in creating the very best experiences for our audiences. One of the hallmarks of our partnership is that we work with brands to tailor their sponsorships to their needs, goals, and budgets, and integrate them into the fabric of the tour.
What follows are a few tricks of the sponsorship trade. Consider it your VIP backstage pass to getting most value from your sponsorship activation.
Successful staffing doesn’t have to break the bank
How do I staff the tour and keep my business running at home at the same time?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions (and deterrents) for sponsoring a music tour. For many brands, staffing is a major hurdle that can stop the sponsorship conversation before it even begins.
So, what’s a brand to do? While relying on existing staff may initially sound like a viable, cost-effective option, the reality is, most brands simply can’t afford to lose full-time internal staff to months of traveling with the tour.
But staffing doesn’t have to be as complicated – or expensive – as it seems. Brands have options, like hiring contract or part-time brand ambassadors for the tour’s entire duration, or sponsoring just a few tour stops so that existing local staff can pitch in to work the event.
Hiring brand ambassadors may sound pricey at first, but if you weigh the cost of losing your staff in the office against hiring tour staff, who can also leverage available local support – it works out to be a highly efficient staffing option.
Consider the benefits: Hired staff are total pros, which means they have the right knowledge and expertise in event activation. They say that knowing is half the battle, and brand ambassadors know the audience, and how to talk to them. Your staff may be experts in your products or your customers; but when it comes to drawing crowds into the event space and engaging with festival goers once they’re there, this expertise doesn’t match that of seasoned event staff. It’s all about delivering fans amazing experiences that integrate seamlessly with the tour.
Some tours, like Vans Warped Tour, also offer logistical support for staff transportation, meals, and accommodations as part of your sponsorship package, which includes a bus spot for transportation between shows, a catering package for three meals a day, and hotels on days off. 4Fini also manages gear transportation – tour staff load sponsorship activation materials onto semi trucks each night, and by 8 a.m. the next morning it’s unloaded in the next city and ready for your staff to set up. If your company is not set up to hire seasonal staff, 4Fini also offers payroll services if needed.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, and keep it movin’
When sponsoring a tour, planning ahead is your BFF. For instance, sponsorship essentials like giveaway items, staff uniforms, and signage can take months to produce and ship from various locations. Ordering these items early ensures timely delivery for the tour. (If they don’t arrive in time, or if something goes wrong, it’s a good idea to have other vendors on speed dial that can help you fast.) Most events, including Warped, can refer you to vetted vendors, many of whom give a discount to sponsors of their events – be sure to ask your event rep for contacts. There is a reason that many of those relationships have lasted as long as they have. The cheapest option is not always the best idea when you’re looking at a multi city event that will require continued management.
Ordering is one thing, but moving tour materials around from stop to stop is quite another. It takes creativity…and careful planning. Ask the tour agency if you can leverage their tour logistics and truck routing. It can be a big money-saver.
Also, consider truck wrap signage: it’s an effective and economical way to create a “moving billboard” for your brand between tour stops. Once you arrive at the tour stop, look for opportunities to park your branded truck in a prominent location on-site at each tour stop. This is added value brand exposure, and it requires nearly zero extra effort. Bus wraps are always a popular idea – but make sure to consider the type of event you’re working with. Buses make sense for club tours, where the venue is likely in a downtown area, and a bus can be visible throughout the day and the event – a billboard saying “Look! We’re here! Come to this show tonight!” However, on a festival like Warped, buses are often parked in remote areas that the public will never see – so be sure to spend your money where it will be most effective!
At 4Fini, we know how to build and move a small city all summer long. We have the experience to get your staff, vehicles, gear and assets from city to city safely and on time – it’s quite simply what we do best. Let us help you, so that you can concentrate on your programming and getting the best value out of your partnership.
Creative and media don’t have to be expensive
Your sponsorship’s overall look and feel should work hard, but not too hard, to represent both the brand and the event. It’s all about striking the right balance. You don’t want to force it – that’s a turn-off, and fans see through it immediately.
Some of the most compelling (and cost-efficient) sponsorship creative and content is co-branded, so leverage whatever the tour has to offer. Most events will provide a style guide and set of assets for approved promotional use. Integrate the tour’s graphics with your brand’s look and feel. Spread the multi-channel message by working with the tour’s media buy, as well as your brand’s. Lean on your own creative agencies. Doing any or all of these things can help you get the most bang for sponsorship buck.
If you don’t have a lot of resources to activate expensive media properties (like TV, for example), then securing more accessible and economical media for your sponsorship – including social, digital, and email – is a great alternative. Or, consider purchasing a piece of the tour’s existing media, or even offer to share media costs. Look to be included in promotions via social media, newsletters, custom co-branded promotions, contests, or sweepstakes – these are all effective ways to get the word out that the party is happening, it’s going to be epic, and that your brand is a big part of it.
Yet another small way to save big: turn your traveling staff into on-site video reporters or bloggers. Because they’re with the tour 24/7, and are likely more social savvy than the average bear, they are very the best people to capture all the festival exclusives – day-in-the-life video diaries; behind-the-scenes activities with artists and daily life on the road. A connection with the event, the artists and the brand is what helps a fan feel connected and positive towards the brand in the end – that’s the connection you’re trying to establish, so use all of your available assets!!
Activating a music tour sponsorship doesn’t have to be a hassle. And while you should be prepared to invest, it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive to make an impact. No matter how much you spend, make your sponsorship dollars work hard for you by investing in careful planning, coordination, and creativity.