This is an article originally written for IGN Southeast Asia which can be found here.

 

Sponsors have a tough time of navigating an industry growing this quickly, and contacting the right (trustworthy) people to make the most of opportunities in the space can be challenging.

 

I know how tough it can be to make the right strategic call on these things because I worked in sponsorships at Razer for 4 years, deciding on whether to sponsor events or teams (or both), which teams were the most reliable and produced the most engaging content, which events were run professionally and had the better global reach, which influencers had done product marketing before, so on and so forth.

The truth is that unless you have a dedicated esports department of ten or more people, doing everything – and doing it all well – is going to be nigh impossible. Many companies looking to tap into several areas of the industry at once turn to agencies with track records working in the space to build some or several of these programs for them while still staying true to the KPIs and goals of the campaign. My advice here is to ensure that if you do pick an agency you ask for examples of their previous work, and ideally any conversions they’ve made (rather than just views, impressions etc). Which companies have they worked with before? Do their employees have tangible experience with similar companies?

 

In terms of events vs teams vs influencers, it depends on the goal of your campaign or company, but here are a few basic pointers:

 

Events are typically great opportunities if you want extensive branding and awareness across a large international audience, and you’re usually looking at huge events over a couple of days, and maybe a week’s ramp-up – so great for lighthouse marketing. If you want to sponsor a series of events over say, an entire season, it’s going to cost you, but you’ll win brand loyalty if the company does its job in promoting you on-stream.

 

Teams give you the same branding and awareness, but you’re working across multiple games, with your message being distributed by the top players (ambassadors) of those games, so engagement tends to be a lot higher. Uniform and social media branding is great, but doesn’t equal conversions, if you’re looking for signups, or sales. Still, some teams are great at planning mini-campaigns to drive traffic to product websites, or enticing sign-ups, by creating landing pages, or strategic callouts.

 

 

 

Influencers are the ideal ambassadors for companies looking to sell product, drive signups, and for branding and awareness too, though of course your audience is limited to the audience that follows and watches the influencer. Influencer marketing is the new hot thing, in part because of the sheer numbers flowing through Twitch, but also because influencers have already done the leg work of building a fanbase that trusts their decisions and their advice – you just tap into that organically and let them do the rest.

 

A few final pieces of advice in parting:

 

Do what you can to evangelize esports internally at your company. Allow other departments to buy-in to the program, and help them to understand how they can better plug in to your campaign(s). It’s important that whoever makes the calls internally to spend money in esports, that it’s being supported across the company too.

 

Make sure that you strive to set tangible targets for your campaign(s), so that it’s easy to track and measure success. Specific goals will give you clear direction, as well as the people you work with – agencies, influencers, partners in general, etc. It also gives you ammunition to use internally when you hit it out the park!

 

And finally, ensure that proper research is done in order to gauge the right prices for the campaign you’re running. It’s in the interest of the industry as a whole, and your budget moving forward, that prices aren’t irrationally inflated, and people aren’t undercharged for their services.