With the memories of summer fading fast some sponsorship marketing continues to be burned into the brains of many Australians…XXXX Gold Beach Cricket, the Australian Open’s IBM Scoreboard, DHL’s sponsorship of Surf Life Saving Australia. But though many big businesses use sponsorship as a marketing tool, SME’s need to wise up to the pitfalls and possibilities.
Sponsorship is about paying a cash amount or providing services free of charge to align yourself with either individuals, teams, groups, organisations, functions or events.
Good sponsorships can:
- Make people feel differently about your company/product
- Drive sales
- Increase your visibility with a target audience
- Differentiate you from your competitors
- Give you brownie points within the community
- Improve staff and key customer relations
But bad sponsorships can waste time and money, and even land you in hot water if the person or event you are sponsoring gets caught up in scandal.
Just because big business is into sponsorships in a big way, doesn’t mean it will be right for yours. It comes down to what your business is trying to achieve and who your target market is.
Let’s say you own a café, open on Saturdays, and not too far from the local sport ground. It would probably make sense for you to sponsor a local soccer team (a well behaved one of course!) so that on chilly game days, your shop is the first place parents turn to for a decent caffeine fix.
Often where sponsorship deals go wrong is that the sponsor hands over the money for the sponsorship (in this case, shirts for the team), and that’s where the association ends. But the key to a good sponsorship deal is looking at it as the entrée to the customer…but not the whole meal!
Using the café scenario, you’d probably also ask for permission to:
- Present Soccer Supporter cards to team parents so that during the week they can enjoy special deals at the café
- Find out if there’s any chance of you having a portable barista cart at the fields
- Offer to host an end of year party at the cafe
- Give out bonus deal cards to visiting team supporters
- Have a small ad in the club’s newsletter, and a link from their website
- Chase up the local paper to get publicity for the team (who should be wearing your logo proudly on their shirts while chomping on your ‘secret weapon’ soccer muffins)
- Bring down some bite size samples of cookies or other items you sell so people can get a taste for what it is you offer
- Set up a system so parents can phone in their orders from the sideline and you deliver down to them….with lots of signage on yourself so people from other teams start calling in orders too
- Put up a photo of the team at your café so other patrons know you’re doing your bit for the local community
- And there’s lots of other ways you could value add the sponsorship here because it’s a good fit.
And good fit is crucial! Sportswear companies align themselves with athletes (think Nike), companies targeting higher income earners sponsor the arts (example Myer and the Sydney Theatre Company), corporations with their eyes on youth sponsor music events, and businesses with slipping reputations often line up to sponsor charities so some saintly glow rubs off.
Have a think about a group in your local area or an event that might be a good sponsorship fit with your company. And then think again!
Do you have the time, the focus, the money and the material to really get the most out of a sponsorship? Is it going to give you the best bang for your buck?
First up you really need to assess the full sponsorship cost. $500 might seem like a bargain to sponsor a local surfing competition but if it also means you need to pay 10 promotion staff to work all weekend, fork out for cool gear for them to wear and pay for hundreds of samples to be handed out…then the cost of the whole sponsorship blows out.
Think about what you can get besides your company name on a banner and flyer. Let the group know what your business challenges are and have them tailor a sponsorship package to your needs. Perhaps you’re having trouble getting in front of the leading business people in your town, so sponsoring a VIP area within a larger event might be more preferable than sponsoring the pie-throwing competition for the public.
Probably the best option is to start off small. Put your energy into finding a good match for your business and then work as a team to identify how both parties can benefit. Don’t just sign a cheque and leave it at that, you’ll end up disappointed. Set goals, set strategy and set your sights on sponsorship success.
Author: Veronica Costas
Coming from a multicultural background, Veronica has lived in Brazil, Spain, and Singapore, and has now been in Australia for five years. Regardless of language and geographic location, her passion for reading and writing has remained constant, and she manages to write expertly about a wide range of subjects.