How To Choose The Right Sponsorships And Get The Most Out Of Them
This is something that seems to come up with almost all my customers. “Should I sponsor X?”
And like most things in business, my answer is “Maybe”.
There are three things to think about when assessing sponsorships as part of your marketing strategy.
- What outcome are you looking for
- How does the sponsorship align with your business brand and target customers
- How much time and money can you invest into the sponsorship
So, the first place to start should be deciding what you want out of a sponsorship. Generally, either brand building, a sales opportunity, culture building or the feel-good factor.
Let’s dive in…
I find most business owners are looking to justify a sponsorship with a financial ROI, that is a tangible dollar in vrs dollar out outcome. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, they are often overlooking the value of branding and its importance in the purchasing process. Let me explain;
It’s a well-known fact that purchasers (consumer or business) generally won’t transact with an unfamiliar brand, so you need to build brand familiarity before they are ready to purchase, or it may be too late.
Picture this, you are standing in a supermarket aisle looking to buy a can of baked beans. Before you are two options and both are the same price, one is Watties and one is “a never heard of them before brand”. Which one are you likely to buy?
Or, if I asked you who AIG were, you might not know what they do but you probably know they sponsor the All Blacks right? (This is a Kiwi blog after all)
And hence brand building is an essential and valuable part of marketing and sales, and sponsorships are a great way of building your brand.
So, to assess the value of brand building for a given sponsorship, ask the sponsorship manager for a profile of their audience and see if they match your target customer profile. Find out what their expected audience size is and ask what opportunities for brand exposure your sponsorship position gives you for the money. This should give you an idea of the branding potential of the sponsorship.
Next, you might be looking for sales opportunities from the sponsorship.
Ask yourself, does it lend itself to direct sales opportunities or indirect sales opportunities?
For direct opportunities like an expo, can you host a branded stall with your sales staff? Can you provide branded signage, flags or goodie bag merch? See if they will promote a special offer or deal to the audience or attendees.
I find with events, depending on your sales process and time limitations, sometimes aiming to cover as much ground as possible by capturing details for sales follow up after the event is a good idea. Maybe aim to build a marketing database by offering a prize draw for contact details. These are also great opportunities for you to find out what questions potential customers are asking that you can use to strengthen your marketing communications.
These sponsorship opportunities often require a bit of time planning and executing, don’t underestimate this when getting into these deals or else it could be a big waste of your marketing budget.
For indirect sales opportunities (like through a website), ask the sponsorship manager to promote a promo code or special offer to their audience. These are best limited and timebound to create a sense of urgency around the sale and helps you associate sales activity with the sponsorship.
Another great opportunity with sponsorships is culture building. That is, if your business has brand values around something like health and wellbeing, an authentic sponsorship that would contribute to your culture might be a triathlon for example. To leverage this, get your team involved, offer to pay for entry, or a gym membership. This is something business owners often overlook but can have a great effect on building business culture. Not sure what to sponsor? Ask your team!
Finally, the feel-good factor. Sometimes in business, it just feels good to give something back. Something that doesn’t require a financial return, or a lot of time invested. Maybe you have some personal connection to a cause or a person or people and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Too often business owners struggle to justify a sponsorship rather than just accepting it for the feel-good factor. I say, own it!
Leverage your Sponsorships
Here are some other tips to help leverage your sponsorships.
Ask the sponsorship manager for their promotional or advertising schedule and imagery and build your own promotional program to complement each other’s efforts and further build brand association. Things like boosted social media posts or a mention on your website can all add value. My advice is, for every dollar you spend on the sponsorship itself; you should spend one on leveraging it too. Whether it be signage, advertising, or giveaway merch to help create a lasting impression.
Look for opportunities to network with the other sponsors, again the collective power of coordinated advertising etc will have a great effect on the overall sponsorship and you never know what alliances may come from it.
Be prepared to get involved, if you have time or skills that could help whatever is being sponsored offer them up. It will be a win-win for both of you.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for something from the sponsorship manager if you spot an opportunity. Remember, they want this to be as successful for you as it is for them so working together to find the perfect fit is advantageous. An example of this was for an event I was recently involved with where we were looking to build brand. We asked to supply branded lanyards to all of the attendees for a bit of extra profile. They said yes and it worked out well for both of us with little extra cost.
What other tips or tricks do you have when it comes to sponsorships?
Let me know in the comments.