I suppose one of the good things about being in business is that people often just assume you are successful. That’s why business owners quite often find themselves on the receiving end of requests for sponsorships. Perhaps a local Little League team needs uniforms, or a non-profit may be looking for a cash or in-kind donations to support a fundraising event.
Sponsorships are a great way to support your community, while at the same time, promoting your business. Sponsorships convey an image that you aren’t just in it for the money, that you genuinely care about the community and customers that support your business.
But before you head out and blow your marketing budget on Silver Level event sponsorships for the non-profits of your choosing, take a step back and think about what types of opportunities offer the best visibility for your business. With ROI on your mind, it will be easier to identify the right sponsorships and say no to those that aren’t a good fit.
Customer Reach – When you are approached with a sponsorship opportunity, ask yourself how it will help you reach potential customers or current ones. Take advantage of the opportunities that provide you with a direct line to your target audience. For example, it might make a lot of sense for a pet groomer to sponsor a pet rescue organization or a charity dog swim.
Customer Involvement – If you know your customers care about the cause, give them a chance to get involved. If you own a café, perhaps supporting a local food bank could be a good sponsorship alignment. You could give customers a chance to get involved by serving as a drop off point for canned goods or giving them a chance to “round up” their bills to benefit the cause.
Leverage Your Benies – Sponsorships typically come with a list of benefits. It’s the stuff you get for being a sponsor. If it’s an event that you’re sponsoring, usually your sponsorship includes your company name or logo in a printed program, on a website and/or on event signage. In some cases, you may have the opportunity to place promotional material on event tables or in giveaway bags to those who attend.
If you have the opportunity to provide promotional material, be thoughtful about your approach. Find a way to tie into the event and connect with the event’s audience to drive customers back to you.
Here’s an example. A massage therapist I know sponsored the local MS150, a two-day, 150-mile bike ride to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. All of the riders were given “goodie bags” and sponsors were able to include giveaways in the bags. As her giveaway, the massage therapist provided a sample size packet of BioFreeze, a pain relief gel that soothes sore muscles, a business card and a coupon for a discounted 1-hour massage. She successfully connected the dots between the event attendees and her business and provided a reason for the riders to get in touch after the ride.
When considering a sponsorship, be creative and stay focused on getting a return on your investment. When you think of sponsorships not as a charitable contribution but as a marketing investment, you’ll get more value out of the experience and you will feel even better when you write that check.