||Capital One Bank Reaps Sponsorship Rewards
Sponsors and Properties Should Revisit Purpose and Deliverables of Partnerships
Since joining Capital One Financial Corp.'s banking unit in March 2010 as director of regional marketing for Louisiana, Suzanne Hamm has worked to take the bank's local sponsorship strategy to the next level.
Hamm, former chief marketing officer for Stanford Financial Group Co., has put Capital One Bank's prospective and existing partnerships in the Bayou State under a new lens to ensure the company is getting the biggest bang for its buck.
"Like most financial services companies, we are looking at our sponsorship spending and trying to figure out ways to maximize value," said the architect of Stanford's notable sponsorship approach that combined sports ties with cause partnerships.
Over the past 10 months, Hamm has concentrated on working with properties to develop collaborative partnerships that provide Capital One with access to one-of-a-kind benefits that add value to the consumer experience and can be leveraged among both internal and external audiences.
Among the programs that have been re-engineered under the new approach is the bank's three-year-old sponsorship of Louisiana State University athletics. During the just-concluded college football season, Capital One ran a promotion with the Tigers that achieved unprecedented results.
To offer benefits that would resonate with LSU fans across the state, the school worked with the bank to provide a package of never-before-offered experiences, such as the opportunity to participate in the on-field coin toss, personalized jerseys, and a tour of broadcast facilities at Tiger Stadium.
Capital One used the once-in-a-lifetime experiences as the grand prizes in its You Rule Death Valley sweepstakes, referring to the nickname for the stadium on the Baton Rouge campus. The primary goal: Drive traffic to the bank's 178 Louisiana branches and help retail employees engage customers.
The promotion paid off: More than 40,000 consumers visited a branch to register for the promotion, which could only be entered in person or by downloading a form from a dedicated Web site.
"We saw an 18 percent increase in sales customers per banker per day, a phenomenal lift over the previous six months that can only be attributed to You Rule Death Valley," Hamm said.
In addition to retail customers, the bank also used the promotion to engage employees, small business customers and commercial accounts, three audiences it had not tried to reach through previous LSU promotions, Hamm said. "We were able to engage every level of customer and executive within the bank from business to commercial, from retail to branch operations.
"This is the first promotion of any type that has been able to serve as a point of connectivity to everyone associated with our bank. The internal proof of our success is that Louisiana had more retail executives achieve their bonus goals than all other regions of Capital One Bank combined."
The bank also has worked collaboratively with French Quarter Festivals, Inc., which last year designated Capital One as the first-ever presenting sponsor of the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans.
Rather than offering visibility, tickets and other basic sponsorship benefits, the event producer developed a custom package tailored to Capital One's needs.
"We don't need a lot of signage -- our awareness is off the charts," Hamm said. "We wanted something to illustrate the meaning of our brand."
The festival responded with a way for the bank to add value to the attendee experience: sponsorship of the event's shuttle buses. Capital One's support allowed the festival to reintroduce shuttle service for the first time since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.
"It's a great way for Capital One to be part of the fabric of the event and add something meaningful," Hamm said.
The opportunity to enhance the attendee experience also helped allay any consumer concerns over the 28-year-old event's decision to bring on a presenting sponsor, she added.
In addition to LSU athletics and the French Quarter Festival, Capital One Bank sponsors a handful of other properties in Louisiana, including the NBA New Orleans Hornets and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell Oil.
Capital One, N.A. -- the banking subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corp. -- was created as a result of several acquisitions, including the 2006 purchase of Hibernia Corp. -- which operated roughly 340 branches in Louisiana and Texas -- and North Fork Bancorporation, Inc., which had roughly 350 retail banking outlets in the New York City tri-state area.
In 2009, Capital One purchased Bethesda, Md.-based Chevy Chase Bank, owner of roughly 250 branches in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Three other regional marketing directors spearhead sponsorships in their respective areas: Diana LaRocca, Texas; Shannon Finberg, Mid-Atlantic; and Tricia Carter, Northeast.
Regional ties outside Louisiana include Hofstra University athletics, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, and New York City's Chelsea Piers sports and entertainment complex.
Capital One Financial Corp., which was founded in 1995 as a credit card issuer, maintains its longstanding title of college football's Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. and signed a multi-year deal to become an NCAA "official corporate champion" in March 2010.
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 01/10/11)
What's In It For You:
Amidst all the "woohooing" of the success of this excellent program, the key to its sale is found all the way down in the 13th paragraph: "Rather than offering visibility, tickets and other basic sponsorship benefits, the event producer developed a custom package tailored to Capital One’s needs." When calling on a serious sponsorship prospect, even if you are selling a specific event, leave the one-sheet, package plans at the office. Your first appointment is all about asking smart excavation questions and LISTENING to your client as they explain what it is they really need. Even if the answer is "more sales," get to the specifics: sales of what, to whom, when, where? There may be elements of your packages back at the office that you can include as relevant in your custom proposal, but it's the customization that's going to net you the bigger sale.
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