Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast named as one of UK’s Hottest Entrepreneurs Aged 35 or Under

Growing Business today names its 12th annual list of the entrepreneurs aged 35 or under behind 30 of the UK’s brightest companies.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, has been named one of the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs aged 35 or under, revealed today in Growing Business’ Young Guns ‘Class of 2014′.

Recognised at an awards luncheon held at the prestigious Kensington Roof Gardens, this year’s crop is made up of 54 entrepreneurs behind 30 of the country’s fastest-growing firms.  The Class of 2014 join an alumni already containing the founders of 330 businesses named since the Young Guns awards began in 2003.  Sponsored by law firm Keystone Law and chartered accountants haysmacintyre, Young Guns celebrates the most outstanding crop of young entrepreneurs the country has to offer with only 30 companies selected each year, and no repeat appearances.

Commenting on the win, Jackie Fast said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised amongst this incredibly influential and successful group of people shaping the future of business in the UK.  As our agency is driven to enable and secure the future of other businesses commercially through securing partners, this award is particularly relevant to us.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Slingshot Sponsorship as well as the other Young Guns!”

Now in its 12th year, the awards has a track record of talent spotting, previously recognising the fledgling businesses started by the likes of Michael Action Smith OBE of Mind Candy, Holly Tucker MBE of Notonthehighstreet.com, Neil Hutchinson of Forward Internet Group, Matthew Riley of Daisy Group Plc, and the co-founders of Innocent Drinks, Huddle, YPlan, Nails Inc., Chilango, and Made.com.

 

View the full list of 2014 Young Guns and their profiles here: www.growingbusiness.co.uk/young-guns

In numbers: Who are the Young Guns Class of 2014?

  • There are 54 qualifying co-founders
  • The 30 businesses are 4 years old on average
  • The mean age between the qualifying founders is 29, with the youngest just 18
  • On average their companies employ 36 people, with the highest employing 200
  • Between the 20 companies that are equity backed, the total they’ve raised stands at over £114m
  • That means those 20 companies have raised £5.7m on average – the highest being House Trip, which has raised $60m and Nutmeg with $50m.
  • It also means 10 companies in this Class have grown organically
  • Their average turnover (for the 26 who told us) is £4.1m and they’re forecasting to grow that to £7.2m this year
  • Of the 26 who told us, they still own 61% of their equity

 

The Knowledge Arena – Challenging The Traditional Festival Model

The end of summer always signifies the end of another chapter for the Outlook and Dimensions Festivals team at Slingshot. But summer blues aside, this year’s editions of Outlook and Dimensions Festivals brought with it the launch of the Knowledge Arena.

Curated alongside CDR Projects, an evolving multi-platform music project – Outlook & Dimensions developed an immersive new learning experience space that focused upon music creation, performance and collaboration. For the 14 days spanning first Dimensions and then Outlook Festival, festival-goers and artists were granted the chance to be inspired by their surroundings and have the opportunity to creatively channel their experiences in the sun at the Knowledge Arena.

The Inspiration

Technological advancement in the music industry has meant that the process of music creation and performance have continued to blur. Spawned from the minds of festival Director Johnny Scratchley and CDR’s Tony Nwachukwu, the Knowledge Arena was created to take a deeper look into these processes and to understand what factors influence the work that is produced and then performed and enjoyed at Outlook Festival and Dimensions Festival.

The Enablers

Alongside Ableton, Akai and M-Audio, the Knowledge Arena created a fully immersive experience for individuals. The tailored programme featured a mix of music creation workshops, artist masterclasses and conversations and ‘Open Play’ slots which allowed individuals the chance to develop their own ideas supported by a team of specialist producers and DJs.

Such an exploration was delivered alongside Ableton, M-Audio and Akai. A studio was built on the festival site and was fitted with a wealth of equipment for everyone to get their hands on from – Ableton Live, Akai APC40, Ableton Push and M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro.

The Results

Not only was the Knowledge Area a space for festival-goers to engage with workshops from our Knowledge Arena professionals, it also hosted a programme of talks and demonstrations from some of the top artists on the bill for both Outlook & Dimensions. The Knowledge Arena saw the likes of Omar, Seven Davis Jr, Alexander Nut, Roman Flugel and more discuss their creative processes.

The Knowledge Arena brought another element to the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions Festivals this year. Not only did it allow festival-goers the opportunity to try their hand at the latest kit out there, it gave them the chance to delve further into the creative processes of the artists they admire. Each of the artists engaged with their workshops and talks with a level of honesty that you would not be able to find elsewhere.

Coming from a single conversation between Johnny and Tony, the Knowledge Arena is just the first step towards the evolution of the festival experience at Outlook and Dimensions. Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive footage that will be released over the coming weeks.

Sales – It’s What Business Is All About

Having previously worked in the recruitment industry, sales featured heavily in both developing new business opportunities and progressing existing client relations. Whilst the recruitment industry may come with its criticism (quick sales and shotgun approaches), there are many agencies out there that focus their efforts upon value-add and developing long term relationships with clients and candidates alike.

Having worked in both sponsorship sales and recruitment it is apparent that there are a number of similarities between these industries:

Show me the money!

Clients are the life blood of a business and as such it is important to nurture and develop these relationships. The longer a client is retained, the greater you should understand the business; its history, the needs and challenges it faces – which in turn will enable you to offer a more consultative service.

The key thing for agencies is the need to understand client’s objectives and work alongside one another to deliver these objectives, not just attempt to cash in on ‘cheap wins.’ As Jerry said “Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention.

A whole new dial tone

The reception of a call highlights the difference between sponsorship sales and recruitment sales instantly. Rarely does a gatekeeper prevent speaking to the desired recipient, and moreover they are generally interested to speak with you about the opportunity associated.

Whilst not every call is offering the opportunity of a World Cup or Olympics, the interest is there as it’s about finding the right platform for the brand as much as the size of the event. And even though marketing managers and directors are bombarded with proposals there is still an interest in what’s available, after all companies don’t generally associate their brand with the mundane! Sponsorship is exciting and more importantly visible, everyone has seen great sponsorship examples. It transcends industries and offers brands the chance to be involved in something great outside their normal remit. Who wouldn’t want to hear about that!

Return on what?

ROI, an acronym that I had little exposure to prior to sponsorship but at Slingshot this is a key KPI within all clients accounts.

Within recruitment the best look to deliver value throughout the relationship with a client, not merely showing interest when a role is available but managing the process leading to the vacancy becoming ‘live’, throughout the hiring and long after the placement.

This theme runs throughout Slingshot’s approach, working in partnership to exploit the opportunities that traditional sponsorship does not. Stepping away from the traditional approach to move beyond badging where account management is key.  This allows increased retained clients and  to develop sustainable sponsorship, creating the maximum return on investment for the each and every client.

It’s partnership not salesmanship

Whilst it is true that business is centered on sales the way in which this operates differs massively from one industry to another. Transactional sales do not look to maximise the relationship for either party. Sales need to be undertaken with a view to the long term and developing the relationship allowing the maximum return for all involved.

Relationships, it’s what business is all about.

National Business Awards Q&A with Jackie Fast, Slingshot Sponsorship

If you haven’t heard yet, we’ve been nominated for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award at the prestigious National Business Awards (full press release).  As part of our nomination, we’ve also been featured in Outsource Magazine with a bit of a Q&A.  The Q&A outlines exactly how Slingshot Sponsorship is truly helping organisations increase their profitability, why innovation is key for us and our industry, whether we think the definition of partnership in a business sense is evolving, and what we think is the perfect client.

You can read some of our answers below, but the full article can be found here.

 

Excerpt from Outsource Magazine:

O: When a buy-side organisation engages with a supplier, how far do you think it transfers responsibility for innovation?

JF: This is a topic much debated at the moment as historically the brand was always responsible for the activation. However, it is in both parties’ interests to actively engage and ensure that the programme, event, or campaign is successful for the audience. Therefore, I would strongly argue that the onus is placed on the rights holder side to ensure that activation falls in line with the overall business strategy to help align objectives.

O: Do you think the very definition of partnership, in a business sense, is evolving and if so how?

JF: The output of partnership is still the same; however, the input of partnerships is radically changing, which is why there are discrepancies around definitions of what sponsorship or partnership is. Sponsorship makes marketing work harder and always has; however, who is involved in that partnership is different now through the advance of digital technology. This will inevitably change our industry.

O: What’s your definition of the perfect client?

JF: A client who understands their business and their reason for bringing on partnerships beyond the financial. A client who isn’t about just selling the logo.

Partnerships can deliver far beyond the investment of rights. When clients understand this implication and its potential, we then have the ability to create sponsorships that deliver value well beyond expectations.

Thatcham to Sponsor new ‘Safety’ Category at 2015 What Car? Awards

Thatcham Research, the UK insurers’ automotive research centre, has announced its involvement in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2015, as a sponsor of the newly introduced ‘Safety’ category.

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards are the most coveted accolades in the automotive industry. The Awards recognise cars that meet the highest standards in their sector after being put through the toughest tests by the most experienced team in the business.

As the UK’s only Euro NCAP accredited crash test centre and pioneers of the Euro NCAP and insurance industry’s testing criteria for Autonomous Emergency Braking technology, Thatcham has established an unrivalled reputation in the field of vehicle safety. The centre is therefore a natural choice to put its first-hand experience and research knowledge into recognising and rewarding the efforts made by vehicle manufacturers in this important area.

“With the introduction of numerous driver assistance and semi-autonomous vehicle safety technologies, manufacturers have really pushed the boundaries of possibility in recent years and there’s certainly more to come.” said Thatcham’s Chief Executive Peter Shaw. “It’s hugely exciting to be involved in this new award category and one which we truly believe can have a major influence on consumers’ future purchasing decisions.”

What Car? publishing director Chris Lowe said: “We are delighted to have Thatcham involved with the Safety Category at this year’s What Car? Awards.  This is a brand new category for What Car? and has been made possible through the support of Thatcham and their expertise in safety, security and crash repair.  We look forward to working with them and delivering the best What Car? Awards yet.”

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards event is attended by more than 1,400 leading industry figureheads alongside the most influential motoring correspondents from the wider media.

The event is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on January 7, 2015. 

This deal was brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship

London Twenty What? Brands opt for sponsorship flings as opposed to the ball and chain

Whatever happened to legacy? During the 2012 London Olympics we could scarcely move for the word, and in regards to sponsorship there is very little evidence of it. Since 2012 there have been four major global sporting events and yet still very few campaigns follow on after the life of an event. And why not?

As Lucien Boyer explains, the buzz of an event doesn’t last forever and as such brands should look to the long term if they want their partnership to provide an effective return, rather than being accused of ‘cashing in’. Sponsorship should be seen as a marriage combining the event and brand strategy in a long-term partnership, this sets a clear direction for a company’s future marketing, allowing the brand to develop a strong message and engage with the target audience consistently over time.

The London Olympics and subsequent 5 years offered a plethora of global athletic events all located within the UK; first London 2012, now the Glasgow 2014 Games, and soon to follow the London 2017 World Athletic Championships (not to mention Team GB competing at Rio 2016). If a brand had wanted to align themselves with the values of athletics and use global sport as a means to engage the audience (UK or abroad) there might rarely have been a better opportunity.

Sainsbury’s serves as a prime example in delivering sponsorship this way. Having sponsored the 2012 Paralympic games to great effect (as the only ‘big four’ supermarket to make gains in market share during this period posting a 5.6% increase YOY), Sainsbury’s didn’t stop there. They finalised an agreement to partner with the British Paralympic Association for the next four years and also to sponsor the British Athletics Major Event series, including the Anniversary Games and British Grand Prix in August. In addition to this they launched a one million pound scheme to provide coaching and facilities to help disabled children lead more active lives providing an ROI that “will not just be measured in pure marketing terms.

So having returned this week from a jaunt north of the boarder to indulge in the Commonwealth Games, I couldn’t help but hear that word again on everyone’s lips. One of Glasgow’s major sponsors SSE is looking to change this. As an Official Partner to the games, SSE used the GoGlasgow leaderboard to engage on Twitter and experientially at the Green Zone. Furthermore, they had a number of brand ambassadors from the home counties, provided long term naming rights for the SSE Hydro (hosting the netball and gymnastics), and are looking to continue the long term effects by increasing the funding for the SSE Next Generation programme giving support to aspiring athletes in the UK.

Only time will tell with how much vigour brands will continue to engage now the curtain has closed on Glasgow. Who knows, come Rio 2016 perhaps the word ‘legado’ will never even be uttered.

 

 

How To Get Sponsors Working For Your Business

The sponsorship industry is changing.  The opportunities are endless and ways of engaging are ever increasing.  And yet, the sponsorship industry still remains fairly static.  Since inception, the typical transaction includes rights holders trading ‘space’ to sponsors for money.  Everyone seems pretty happy.  But is everyone getting the most out of the relationship?  With ROI crucial to good business, I’d question whether everyone is getting as much return for the investment that is being put into the sponsorships created.

But money talks and quite rightly, rights holders utilise sponsorship to drive revenue.  However, sponsorship can do so much more.  When done cleverly, sponsorship can open business avenues and new profit centres rights holders wouldn’t have been able to create by themselves.

But it needs a rights holder who is willing to look at the bigger picture with an ambition to think outside of the box commercially.

Rather than just chasing money for logo placement, rights holders need to identify what their ideal ambition is for incorporating sponsorship revenue within their commercial objectives.  For many B2B events, it’s about attracting leading consumer brand names to their event.  For music festivals, it’s about differentiation and adding value to the festival experience.  For sport, it’s getting fans to engage with the team beyond the pitch.  Sponsorship does all these things, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Many rights holders fail to realise that they have to consider their sponsorship ambitions in a series of steps.  Just like growing any business, in order to reach the end goal there are milestones of achievement – each one built upon success of the other.  A good sponsorship strategy should be developed in the same way – with the long view in mind including phases that drive to deliver objectives beyond the financial.

And even if money really is the only objective (although if you dig deep enough, this is rarely the case), you need to create phases which will allow you to continue building value in order to increase revenue year on year.

So how do you go about building a sponsorship strategy that does all this and more?

  1. Figure out if you have ambitions beyond money.  And if you do, find out if sponsorship can help you reach them.
  2. If you cannot offer a strong proposition to the sponsors you really want, carve out areas of rights that you can provide on a reduced rights fee or for free while still maintaining your core sponsors.  This allows you to negotiate with the right sponsors that can deliver on some of your long-term ambitions while still ensuring your financial targets can be met by the usual suspects.
  3. Talk with your current sponsors about your ambitions and find out how they can play a role in achieving them.
  4. Partner with sponsors whose long-term goals and objectives are aligned with your own.
  5. Stop thinking transactional.  Get creative.

 

Sir Bradley Reminds Us It’s About More Than A Logo

Sir Bradley Wiggins’ comments on the eve of the Commonwealth Games that the Emirates branding on the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow might have left Sir Chris feeling a little “done over”.

For those of us in the sponsorship industry though, Wiggins’ comments provided another reminder of just how important it is for sponsors to clearly demonstrate the value they’re adding to an event.

For Emirates, who have activated their sponsorship pre-event by spreading the excitement of the Games across the Commonwealth through the Queen’s Baton Relay and unveiled a new Emirates Lounge at Glasgow Airport just in time for the Games, it will be interesting to see how the airline actively engages audiences now the Games are underway.
The recent World Cup in Brazil pushed digital and brand engagement to the fore and further supported the premise that effective sponsorship is more than just a collection of logos and branding at an event. Sponsorship should help to actively engage with consumers allowing the audience to interact and create an emotional tie with a brand.

We’ve seen major brands and sponsors bend-over-backwards at recent global sports events to use meaningful and relevant activation to bring their brands as close to the action as possible. Here’s our selection of podium placers from recent global events where engagement was king.

P&G – ‘Thank You Mom’ (London 2012 & Sochi 2014)

To much critical acclaim P&G executed a clearly defined and emotionally charged message through an integrated “Thank You Mom” campaign, encompassing a host of digital channels, athlete ambassadors including the likes of Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Ennis-Hill and the release of an app allowing over 50,000 of us to say thank you to mum too!

Beats – London 2012

Beats was just one of a number of  brands who managed, temporarily at least, to evade the brand police and creatively engage with audiences at London 2012 without sponsoring the event. Not only supplying (what seemed like) every athlete with a custom pair of Beats, they also created a pop-up space in Shoreditch House allowing 4,000 people including Olympic athletes from all over the globe to interact with the brand, watch the Games and make use of a photo booth which was used to generate content for poster shots later in the campaign.

Budweiser – ‘Rise as One’ (FIFA World Cup 2014)

Budweiser made sure to engage with its audience whether they were in Brazil or not.  Fans from all over the globe were encouraged to get involved via Twitter with users urged to tap #ManoftheMatch tweets from @FIFAcom which generated Budweiser branded player photos and a  tweet and vote mechanic. Many fans lucky enough to make the trip to Brazil were greeted with rewards in the form of the Budweiser Hotel which hosted parties and events throughout the tournament and acted as a hub for over 3000 satellite Budweiser parties all around the world.

With 1.5 billion people tuning in to the Commonwealth Games let’s hope brands involved make it equally engaging!

Why Lifestyle Brands Are Getting It Right

Our unique take on sponsorship has enabled us to work with some fantastic lifestyle brands such as Red Stripe, Majestic Athletic, Supreme Being, Monster Energy, Spotify, and New Era who are truly maximising the consumer shift towards culture brands.  In terms of sponsorship, these brands are getting it right.  They truly understand their consumer, their market, and most importantly understand how utilising effective sponsorship platforms make their marketing budgets work harder – often because their budgets are a fraction of their rivalling high street retail competitors who are vying for the same audience.

But what makes them different and why should you care?

It all boils down to engagement.  Lifestyle brands tend to have more success in engaging their market better than many other retailers.  They also know where to engage them and how to engage them.  If engagement is what brands are after because engagement sells, then this surely is something to take notice of rather than being complacent on your own brand image – even if you do only sell shoe inserts.

So here is my take on why lifestyle brands are getting it right:

  1. Challenged to be creative – smaller budgets mean you have to really think about what you are doing with them.  When lifestyle brands sponsor something, they maximise every single opportunity and asset they purchase ensuring nothing is missed.
  2. Commercially creative teams – lifestyle brands tend to have teams where everyone does a bit of everything, rather than job roles split up.  This forces individuals to be both creative and commercial – enabling people to fully understand how marketing activity drives sales, which is crucial.
  3. They are their target market – not only do they know their audience, they themselves tend to be active and avid advocates of the brand.  This saves focus groups, countless surveys, and allows them to tap into consumer insight easily.

If you want to see what we’ve done with Majestic Athletic, click here for the case study.

Slingshot Sponsorship Announced as National Business Awards Finalist for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award

Britain’s leading businesses, business leaders and social enterprises have today been revealed as finalists for the 2014 National Business Awards and Slingshot Sponsorship is amongst them.

Slingshot Sponsorship has been shortlisted for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award – recognising organisations that help businesses to increase profitability by improving efficiency, developing talent and implementing innovation.  This award recognises the impact of ‘enablers’ that offer value beyond services.

Commenting on the Slingshot Sponsorship award entry, Judge Simon Feary, CEO, Chartered Quality Institute said:

“Slingshot has positioned itself to address a niche market overlooked by the main providers. To do that profitably and sustainably, especially within the small business-low margin segment you really have to know your market. Small beginnings but the growth is there suggesting they have their model right.”

This year’s shortlisted businesses cover activities as diverse as retail, technology, men’s grooming products, telecoms, construction, advertising, entertainment, and publishing. Of the businesses shortlisted, 24% turnover under £5m, 26% turnover between £5m and £25m, 15% over a billion and 10% not for profit organisations. The smallest business recognised has a turnover of just £23k with the largest reaching £20 billion. Finalists collectively employ over 850,000 people, the smallest has just one member of staff while the largest employs around 165,000 people globally.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship commented:

“Having our business model recognised as a business enabler at the National Business Awards opens up a world of opportunity for our agency proposition beyond our typical market of sponsorship and marketing professionals.  As we champion the value of commercialisation in marketing, it is an honour to be recognised against some fierce competition in this category – especially from those organisations in the financial industry.”

Visit The National Business Awards for a full list of all finalists and to attend the event.

 

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