As our marketing agency becomes more well known in our local area, we are increasingly getting asked to sponsor events, teams and local organisations. In recent months Stop and Stare Marketing have sponsored the Wood Street Jazz Festival for Disability Challenge; CBS Office Interiors for Byte Night raising money for Action For Children; Natalie Flindall for Reading Half Marathon raising money for Save The Children UK; Wendy Calloway for fire-walking to raise money for a local cause; hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning; and sponsored our own Karen Lally for driving around Europe in 8 days.
Our sponsorship activities have been generally motivated by a connection with each particular organisation or event; members of staff have been involved with them, or acquaintances have benefited from an organisation’s help. However, with my business head on and from a marketing perspective, there are good reasons enter sponsorship deals, whether it’s sponsoring a local football team, an event or organisation’s campaign.
If you look at the money spent by big brands on sponsorship it’s clear that there are real business benefits in doing so. In fact in some cases money invested in the right sponsorship deal can deliver a much greater ROI than if it had been spent on traditional advertising.
Sponsorship deals: how to find synergy and ROI
So what makes a great brand sponsorship deal? What key factors should you be considering when deciding on whether to sponsor the local team’s strip or that industry convention?
Sponsorship deals are about partnerships and the most successful work because both parties either share a similar vision, or a complementary one. If your vision is to become a global leader in your sector it makes sense to build a relationship with someone who shares this, or is already on their way to achieving it.
Both parties will also want to ensure that they subscribe to each other’s ethos and organisation’s culture: don’t come unstuck by sponsoring organisations that could backfire on you, or that your customers don’t support.
Your brand identity and the organisation’s should also have some synergy. Aim for a natural partnership that doesn’t make others question the relationship. For example, if you’re a young, vibrant brand however much you might admire the work of Age UK, there isn’t really a natural fit between the two. Although there could be an interesting disruptive element to it…
Remember that you’re looking to sponsor someone or something that your customers will ‘get’, and importantly an organisation that attracts a demographic that you want to engage with.
Your Business Strategy
This post is not about making charitable donations, or raising money for organisations through sponsorship. Instead it’s about finding sponsorship opportunities that will help your business grow. Therefore any sponsorship deals need to be looked at with your business strategy in mind. So, if you want to reach a global audience you should be looking for sponsorship opportunities that raise brand awareness on a global scale, or region by region.
Conversely, if you want to focus on doing business in your local area, sponsoring the local football team becomes a good option.
Your Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy should clarify what you’re trying to achieve from a sponsorship deal.
- Are you looking for new customers?
- Do you need to retain existing customers?
- Are you planning to break into new markets?
- Have you got new products or services to promote?
- Or have you had a brand refresh and need to reposition your business with this in mind?
Weigh up any opportunities against your marketing strategy to make sure that they are both aligned.
The Sponsorship Deal
There are numerous types of sponsorship and so it’s important to identify exactly what you want for your money*. What’s going to give you the best ROI?
Your logo on playing kits? Perimeter signage around an event’s arena? The rights to use the beneficiary’s logo in your advertising and communications? Unique branded products that merge the two brands? Your logo and marketing material at charging points at an industry event?
Of course what you negotiate will depend very much on your budget, and the opportunities that are available through a sponsorship deal. To get the best return you need to be very clear on what your objectives are, and for most businesses the key question will be ‘will this reach my target audience?’
I’m sure there are plenty of businesses out there that have entered into sponsorship deals and have no idea if they got ROI. Did your sponsorship of the local food festival actually result in more sales? Or was it an expensive gesture that barely registered with your target audience?
Monitoring the success of a sponsorship deal will enable you to make good decisions in future, refine your current arrangements and look for new opportunities to raise brand awareness and increase sales.
* In-Kind Sponsorship
Finally, many small local businesses do not have the cashflow that allows them to make large sponsorship payments to other organisations. However, there may still be ways your business can benefit from being associated with a particular organisation or event through in-kind sponsorship.
Typically, you might agree to provide services or goods in return for coverage for your business. Alternatively, you may be able to help an organisation reduce their costs by paying for something they need through your suppliers and business relationships. Or if you have premises you may offer location sponsorship by allowing others to use your facilities.
Whether you have big budgets or small, there are sponsorship opportunities out there that can deliver real ROI if you go about it correctly.
Has your business been involved in a sponsorship deal? Let us know in the comments about how it went; was it successful, what would you do differently?
We’d also be delighted to answer any questions you have about sponsorship, or share our thoughts on opportunities you are currently assessing. Leave your question in the comments below.