Strive Sponsorship are the new kids on the block. Having launched at the beginning of 2015 we’re up to four clients strong. We’re happy with this because for us it’s not about immediate aggressive growth, but about testing and proving a new model to best service our clients needs.

So what is our model? Well let me explain it like this.  When a business enlists outside help to meet a specific set of objectives or challenges, they want the best set of skills and/or knowledge available to do that. They hire experts, not agencies.

In most cases, the optimum solution requires a combination of specialist skills and/or knowledge. In our experience, traditional agencies/consultants have specialist skills/knowledge in certain areas, but parts of a brief (and/or the solution) often lay outside of these. It is rare third party experts are brought in to meet this requirement because of the additional cost. When media was simpler, fewer skills were needed and you could get away with this. Not now.

We don’t believe any one agency/individual has a monopoly on providing the best advice across all sponsorship platforms, disciplines and/or industries. However aggregate all the available knowledge/skills and you can provide the optimum solution. That is what Strive Sponsorship is trying to do (you can read more about Strive Sponsorship here).

We have a core internal sponsorship and marketing expertise built up over 16 years from working brand, agency and rights holder side in the sport and entertainment industry. Our skill set is in diagnosing what a business needs to meet its objectives, as well as being able to deliver elements of the solution directly. Our expertise is supplemented by a growing network of specialist strategic partners whom are called upon as the brief dictates, ensuring the best available solution is delivered.

Gareth Evans describes why there is a need for entities like Strive Sponsorship perfectly in his piece “Integrated agency – myth or legend” . I have first hand experience of working in a place that offered consultancy, event and PR solutions – only then to add digital into the offering once it became apparent how important the channel would be.  There was no additional expertise added to the business, or even training given.  We were reacting to market forces and trying to work it out when required to by a client. After all, the client didn’t know what they didn’t know, which offered us latitude and an additional revenue stream.

I subsequently got experience of being part of a family of complimentary skilled agencies (e.g. a sponsorship agency, events agency, digital agency, brand agency, direct marketing agency etc) that supported ‘integrated solutions’. The strategy and intention was right here, we were all to lend one another our specialist knowledge as and when required. However practically it didn’t work.  There were obvious overlaps in skillets and offerings between agencies (e.g. the sponsorship agency also managed events) compounded by the fact that each agencies MD had individual revenue targets. What this meant was that work wasn’t shared as it was intended to be and it was hard to get sister agency expertise in at the pitch phase as there was never any guarantee that it would be rewarded with resultant paid work.

I have no doubt that this differs from agency to agency and that things have progressed a long way in the places I used to work, but my experience resonates with others in the industry too. I should point out that I don’t have any issues at all with agencies, they house some amazing expertise and we partner with them if the brief requires it (leveraging their core capabilities).  In addition we also partner with the growing flexible workforce (i.e. independent consultants). More experienced specialists are going it alone as a lifestyle choice and in recognition that they can offer a client the same service for less, yet earn more themselves.  My point is more about striving for the optimum solution when challenges require a range of skills/knowledge. And this, in our experience, often requires various parties rather than a one stop shop. Time will tell if the market is ready for this.