Getting the most out of sponsorship
As a marketing strategy, sponsorship can seem like a good idea. The sponsor (you) is associated with a particular organisation, event or individual (the beneficiary), providing them with something they need – either a physical object or an amount of money. In return, the sponsor is given access to the rights and associations of the beneficiary for use and commercial advantage.
What should you consider?
Your ultimate goal is obviously to grow your business but if that is your sole aim, it probably isn’t the right marketing strategy for you. It requires a long-term commitment, which the benefits coming from continued exposure and association with a worthwhile and/or beloved cause.
For the sponsor, it can increase:
Goodwill – a critical difference between adverting and sponsorship. An easy way to look at this is to think about your name on a football team’s kit. You have associated yourself with that team and, by extension, their fans. If that association remains over several seasons, the fans will develop goodwill towards your brand that may result in a purchase.
However, if you just put an advertisement in their team programme, the impact is fleeting and will only last as long as the fan is reading it.
Public reputation – sponsorship shows you care. Community relations are now an important part of corporate responsibility and so sponsoring a team or event or doing something like buying computers for a school or helmets for a motorbike display team means you are enhancing your community. This will ultimately translate into customer satisfaction and retention.
Connections – if you engage in sponsorship with an organisation that has other sponsors, then you can also benefit from better ties with those companies.
Brand awareness – the big one. Having you name on a team shirt, or the panelling on a motorbike can mean a lot of exposure, although this may be hard to monitor. For example, it is safe to assume that if you sponsor a youth team your name will appear in a lot of photographs. If those images are shared, your name could reach a very large number of people.
If you are a local business, and your name is on the kits, programme or marketing materials, it is guaranteed a percentage of the community will see you name. Then, when they need a service, even if they don’t know what your business does, you will have brand recognition when they do a Google search.
This is where goodwill plays an importance part in turning recognition into a sale.
Choosing the right organisation
We work with a number of businesses that actively engage in sponsorship. Our first job is to work out what the objective is for the company – in other words, what does it want and what is it looking to promote. This then needs to be matched to an organisation or event that provides the right level of exposure. If the company wants instant gratification, then we will steer them away from sponsorship and into more high impact/low longevity forms of promotion.
For many of our businesses, the key focus is ‘local’. They want to get their name out into the local community, building brand awareness among the people who might use their service. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, for example, a Christmas tree farmer donating a percentage from each tree sold to local scouting groups or a pest control company giving two summer houses to a local nursery.
Cleankill Pest Control, a company we have worked with for several years, is particularly active in sponsorship and charity. They understand the advantages of being committed to the communities in which they operate. Over the years, they have involved themselves in everything from funding and repainting a Children’s Trust facility to supporting a food bank in Bristol and sponsoring a variety of sports teams, including a local female football team and motorbike side-car team. They also sponsor a number of business-related events, such as awards and business expos.
Though they are not instantaneous, the benefits from sponsorship can be great and they are long term.
However, sponsorship only works if both parties fulfil their part of the arrangement. Here is where working with a public relations professional can really pay dividends because, without careful management, a sponsorship agreement can easily end when the beneficiary receives the cheque. That doesn’t mean there is malicious intent, simply that these organisations rely on fundraising to operate and so they are always thinking about the next source of income. This can be especially true if there is a delay, for example, if the team has to wait for the new kit to arrive.
If they have been involved since the start, a public relations professional can work between the sponsor and the beneficiary to ensure all the agreed objectives are met. The aim is continuity for both parties and therefore negotiations need to remain calm and measured. For example, if part of the agreement is for team to be photographed in their new logo-carrying kit, the beneficiary must remember to set this up. At the same time, the sponsor must also be ready to visit the handing over ceremony for the photographs.
A key area is social media. For both parties, the aim is to show association. Images must be shared on all social media platforms to get maximum exposure. The public relations professional can coordinate the release of these images and any associated press materials.
Sponsorship can be a powerful tool. Since you never know where your next sale will come from, having your name in the minds of your target audience, even if it is through an association with a completely different organisation, could make the difference between a potential and an actual sale.
If you need help, contact Suzi on 07590 591140 or e-mail: email@example.com