This week we’re taking a look at the role of sponsorships in providing outreach for your goods and services. At first glance, many business owners flinch at the idea of spending money in this arena. That’s because in the beginning, they can only see the check going out the door, not the return on investment it may bring. If a sponsorship role is thoroughly investigated for maximum benefit and executed properly, it can provide a foundation for recurring revenue and new customers.
First understand that the amount of money exchanged for these opportunities comes in all shapes and sizes. Sponsorship is, above all else, a scalable exercise. Did you know that most annual NASCAR sponsorships run above $20 million per year? For your business, we’re not talking those numbers. We’re going to focus on nominal efforts which fit your budget.
If your franchise or small business serves a particular community (maybe even one you’ve grown up in), you should be aware of many potential opportunities in the sponsorship game. Perhaps you’ve even been previously approached. Sponsoring little league baseball teams, parades, county fairs and music festivals afford business owners the ability to get involved—and get the word out. Below are a few tips to help you get started down the path to sponsorship…and recouping your investment:
Choose Your Target (Market)
Don’t just sign up to sponsor an event or activity because you liked the sales pitch. You have to first find out whether or not your customers will be exposed to your involvement in the sponsorship. For instance, if your franchise operates in the health and wellness category, you best be looking for a 5k fun run to sponsor, not a monster truck rally. Just the same, if you own a QSR franchise, maybe that chili-cook off sponsorship makes sense. While it should be obvious, you have to picture in your mind whether or not your target market is going to participate in the event or activity.
When you show an interest in sponsoring something, the host organization is likely going to go out of their way to cater to you. Use this to your advantage. Most sponsorships spell out in great detail what your franchise or small business will receive in exchange for your money. If they’re vague or overpromise, be wary. Also, be willing to negotiate for something even more favorable for your business. If it’s an event you intend to sponsor, try to wrangle a couple of extra tickets for your vendors. They may remember this perk and return the favor through reducing your costs on the next order. Ah, now are you seeing the true value of sponsorships?
Attend…and Network Like Crazy
Once you’ve decided on a team, event or cause to sponsor, make sure you’re in attendance to facilitate your invested involvement. Contact the organizers and find out how you can increase your involvement (and investment). Show up early. Attend the requisite dinners and planning committees. Shake hands. Bring business cards. Smile often. It’s quite likely you’ll be in a pool of additional event sponsors who also own businesses or run charities. Make sure everyone knows you—and your business—before the conclusion of the sponsorship opportunity. You don’t have to be obnoxious about it, just think of it as another great networking opportunity and you’ll do fine.
Sponsorships play an extremely vital role in cause marketing. And if you’re not in on it, even at a nominal level, you should be. There is no shortage of sponsorship opportunities out there, just businesses who haven’t yet unlocked the potential of their participation in one. Now, get off your checkbook and get in the game!