3 things to consider about sponsorship as a small business
Small businesses are constantly seeking ways to promote their services and their skills. From electrical contractors to gallery owners, developing a solid marketing strategy is vital if you want to grow your business.
One option that may be available to you is sponsorship. Sports teams at every level, individuals looking to break records or increase their visibility or an upcoming event all need revenue to reach their goals. This is where you come in - as a corporate sponsor you provide needed income in return for public recognition of your name and brand.
Think about local football or cricket teams. They need to buy kit, perhaps maintain training grounds or club space, pay for advertising and so on. So they attract sponsors from the world of business, who put up bill boards and signs on the pitch in return for monthly or yearly payments.The team can now pay for their new away kit and the business has a very visible ad on their pitch. Everybody wins.
Or do they?
Here are 3 things to consider before taking up sponsorship as a marketing strategy...
1) Image association
Tying your brand to a group or an individual can provide powerful associations. A winning team, or a courageous last placer, can provide positive associations for your company.
This does cut both ways, however. The arrogant midfielder who swears at every match and the dispirited coach who is a public drunk also gets associated with you, but not in a positive way.
It is best to carefully consider your chosen sponsee. Protect yourself as much as you can by doing your homework on your chosen people. Monitor their behaviour and public image for a while before taking the plunge.
2) Product and service awareness
You invest a certain amount of money and in return get a platform from which to advertise your business. It's up to you how you do this. One option is to highlight products and services - perhaps the most popular type of garden furniture you make, or maybe a slow selling menu that you want to promote. By using your visible space e.g. billboard, section on their website or brochure, you can speak directly to consumers who follow your sponsee.
Be aware of your competition however. Many people have multiple sponsors, often from the same industry. You do not want your latest range of paper office supplies advertised next to a piece of new technology promising a paperless office.
Try to build a close relationship with your sponsee and stay involved in the process of placing sponsored advertising. That way you have more chance of some control over who you share space with.
3) Local sponsorship
The goal of local sponsorship is to invest in local resources and communities, supporting local culture and funding things close to your employee's hearts. These types of sponsorship can promote excellent public relations in your area, develop a loyal customer base and improve the morale of your staff.
Looking at the flip side, local sponsorship can often be exactly that. Recognition can be thin on the ground outside of the local area, or worse, outside of the specific industry you are sponsoring. You can work hard to promote a local youth shelter or a charity cake sale, but ultimately you may feel no real effect from a wider marketing point of view.
Understand the limitations when putting together your sponsorship plan. Aim for a balance between investment and return to ensure you don't overspend on concerns that have a lower publicity potential. By all means cover your finance manager's Teddy Bears Picnic charity event, but don't rank it higher than a rider in a coast-to-coast triathlon when allocating the sponsorship budget.
Avoiding sponsorship disaster requires planning, forethought and a certain amount of luck, but when done properly it can be hugely beneficial. With a sensible and professional approach, sponsorship can be an empowering and lucrative marketing strategy, as well as a fantastic opportunity to support local and national teams, groups and events.