I am turning into the unofficial spokesperson for Citibike, New York City’s brand new bike sharing program sponsored by Citibank. It’s only halfway into day 3 of Member Preview Week and I’ve already taken a bike out 10 times, including back-to-back riding on Monday where I got more thumbs-up from total strangers than when I wear my infamous flag dress on the 4th of July. What is this, Amsterdam? No, it’s NYC without being restricted to the increasingly stifling subway or decreasingly available taxis, being able to get from Bowery to Avenue C in under five minutes, and, I’ll be honest, the return of wearing heels to work.
And as with most things, I can flip this into a teachable marketing moment: clearly Citibike is getting huge brand exposure through this sponsorship. But how does a brand approach sponsorship evaluation, and once it’s engaged, measure a return on its investment?
Citibike App – Impressions on my iPhone!
The answer, in a word, is IMPRESSIONS. An impression is every time a person sees your brand. I see your logo once, that’s one impression. I see it 10 times today, that’s 10 impressions. I see it and point it out to my friend, it’s 2 impressions. Eight million New Yorkers see your logo 10 times throughout the day, that’s 80 million impressions. Now we’re talking major exposure.
Of course, you probably can’t estimate impressions exactly, but making educated estimates and assigning a value to each impression is the starting point. The idea being that it takes 10 or so times of seeing a brand for it to even register on someone’s conscious radar; with saturation having obvious benefits. As of Monday, I certainly notice Citibank branches more. I changed my mind about closing my Citibank account. On the flip, if the bikes become a debacle: vandalized, increase accidents, or native New Yorkers are not happy about losing her street parking (shout out, Stacy!), the impressions can have a negative effect.
Citi Logo Impression Mania!
How does this apply to your business? If you’re trying to attract sponsorship* you’ll need to create a numbers story about how much exposure that brand stands to get through your event or campaign. It’s also how we measure success after the fact – creating reports on impressions from marketing materials to website visits to social media reach to media coverage. Pay attention to impressions and you’ll begin to understand how to create equitable partnerships that are a win-win for both sides.
*Sign up for DIYPR: Publicity Bootcamp and I’ll teach you how to leverage impression measurement to pitch sponsors and strategic partners for your events.