Image credit: Matt Sylvestre

One fantastic trend emerging at the SMCC Sponsorship Marketing Awards last week is that a new era has come into our industry. 

No longer are we blindly chasing impressions, and money can’t buy experiences. Instead, the brands, agencies, and properties that comprise our unique industry focus on Impact, Innovation, and Inclusivity. 

Whether it be Molson providing hockey content in multiple languages, the best in show program from BMO supporting soccer families in need or my client OLG collecting for the community, many of the award winners had a powerful intersection between purpose, cause, and branding. 

The awards shared last week inspire my point today. I believe we are now in what I call the Era of Belonging. What is belonging? It is that fantastic sanctuary where someone feels connected by a common purpose, allowed to express their shared passion, be rewarded for their effort, and feel accepted for who they are. 

The feeling of Belonging is what every company’s DEI efforts should be pursuing. But it’s far more than a CSR play or a social media campaign. Belonging is good business. Your profits will soar when people feel comfortable thinking they own part of the team, the brand, and the revenue. Your employee engagement will reach new heights. Your brand will become a movement.

This November, we will dive deeply into Belonging at SponsorshipX Montreal. We will hear research on which sport your consumers and fans feel they most belong to. Up-and-coming changemakers will detail how their social justice activities utilize grassroots communities of a shared passion for creating an impact far beyond their size. There will be classrooms to study sponsorship impact, workshops on doing presentations that connect more powerfully with your internal stakeholders, and interactive chats with marketers in the business of Belonging. 

Image credit: Matt Sylvestre

At its core, the sponsorship business is about brands creating opportunities for consumers to enjoy the things they love. Would the festival, the fundraiser, or the match occur without corporate partners or supporters, you could ask? But, of course, it is no longer enough to be about the simple act of underwriting. The sponsorship industry must do more in this era and all we are going through. It must help change the world. To create a place where no matter what you look like, who you love, or how you identify, you feel you Belong.