If you’ve ever been to a sporting event, chances are high you’ve noticed an abundance of sponsorship signs. Perhaps the game clock sports a Nike symbol on the rim, the announcer’s table is faced by a Coca Cola banner, and there’s a string of ads along the walls or front of the stands recommending everything from the best bank in the region to a local automobile dealership. Company sponsorship is not just an admirable way for businesses to help fund worthwhile events — done well, company sponsorship agreements can provide a healthy return on investment to the sponsor.
The problem is that sponsorship agreements are often seen more as a type of goodwill funding than as targeted advertising. The sponsor expects to benefit from the exposure, but very little. That view of sponsorship, though, doesn’t deliver the full picture and certainly doesn’t deliver the best returns.
By following the five suggestions listed below, sponsorship can be one of the most effective and targeted advertising mediums you can find.
The Primary Problem with Sponsored Advertising
Are the sponsorship ad dollars you spend on getting the company name in front of sports fans, concert-goers, and attendees at other activities worth the investment? Have you ever purposely shopped with a business simply because you saw the business name on a banner at a basketball game? Probably not.
Company sponsorship agreements are typically related to brand awareness and brand affinity. You want your company to be top-of-mind when prospects consider purchasing a product or service you sell. Every time someone sees your company name advertised or hears it spoken of in a good way, your brand takes another step higher in the mind of the prospect, and that’s fine. The more people you help get to know and like your brand, the more business you’re likely to get from those prospects.
Some people will only buy Chevrolet trucks, and some will only buy Ford. That preference was developed over years of influence by friends, family, and advertisers. It arose from thousands of little touchpoints, not from seeing a company sponsorship ad.
Here’s the crucial thing to consider: One particular touchpoint might come at the right time or be the right frame-of-mind catalyst that cements the prospect’s desire to buy from you.
The biggest [roblem with company sponsorship agreements is not that they don’t work, but that they are easily lost in a sea of similarity/ The ads are a backdrop, not the show, and targeting the message to the right prospects is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
The following five pointers can revolutionize the way you look at sponsorship agreements and get your marketing team excited about leveraging sponsorships to boost not just brand awareness… but ROI.
To be seen, you must stand out.
5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Sponsorship Agreements
Carefully selected sponsorship relationships can deliver a significant return on investment. By paying attention to the points listed below, you can attract your best prospects, enjoy more control over ad placement, and boost results to move sponsorship agreements beyond charity and into profitability.
- Seek exclusivity with your company sponsorships. When your ad is one in a row with dozens of others, the impact on your brand is minimal. Look for sponsorship opportunities where you can stand out and get noticed. That will probably mean you’ll need to look beyond the standard sponsorship opportunities everyone knows about. It may even mean you need to get creative and develop a partnership with another company or organization that compliments your own.
- Choose company sponsorships directly related to your business. If your company provides landscaping products and services, for instance, your sponsorship of a home and garden show at the county fairgrounds will gather more qualified leads than company sponsorship of a rodeo. Your job isn’t to get “more eyeballs” on your ads. It’s to get the “right eyeballs” (those of your best prospects) on your ads. see the next tip for amplification of that principle.
- Look for sponsorship opportunities with organizations that serve your prospective customers. A primary marketing mistake companies often make with advertising is using the number of views as a primary indicator of success. It’s better to serve an advertisement to 1,000 real prospects than to 10,000 people who aren’t your prospects. Focus on conversion rate, not on click-through rate or response rate. You can easily get traffic and interaction — just give away a free new-version iPhone. The crowd you gather, though, will be composed of people who want a free phone — and those people may not be your best prospects.
- Make sure the organizations and activities you sponsor have plenty of “pull” with the audience you want to influence. The sponsee’s approval of your company (assuming they vet their advertisers before providing access to their people) will provide instant credibility for you. This is a form of social proof, and it can jumpstart your ability to connect quickly with your best prospects. Choose organizations and events that are held in high esteem by your target audience. In a way, company sponsorships are like “influencer marketing.” The more popular the organization you sponsor is with the people who benefit from the activities, the more klout your company gains by being associated with them.
- Do your research before committing. It’s critical that the organization you are sponsoring provides real value to the community it serves. Ask questions get answers. Make sure your brand and their brand are compatible. Make double sure they have direct access to people who fit your best prospect persona/ Find out how much of the spotlight your company will get and who else you’ll be sharing that spotlight with. When you sponsor an event or organization, you’re displaying your approval of and support for that event or organization.
To get to where you want to go, keep walking in that direction.
Make Every Ad Dollar Count — Sponsorship Ads Included
Charitable work is honorable work. Companies not only have a duty to do what they say they will do and provide products or services that provide the promised benefits, but their presence in the marketplace also confers a social responsibility as well. The poet John Donne rightly said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”, and that concept applies as much to businesses as it does to individuals. We all depend on one another.
For a company to prosper, though, to continue making payroll and serving its customers well, the bottom line must never be ignored. It takes money to make money, and it takes prudent guardianship of advertising dollars to make ads pay off. Choose your sponsorship partners wisely, and look at them as long-haul investments, not one=off attempts at stirring up a little publicity. They can be a valuable part of your marketing strategy. Sponsorships can be true win/win activities when you use the five pointers given here as guides to sponsorship success.
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A regional credit union, for example, sponsors the personal finance simulation for a high school in their area. Students learn tactics for managing money, while at the same time gaining exposure to a business that can help them apply the information they’re learning to the real-life world of checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans. Students get one of the best simulation/course package on personal finance anywhere, while the credit union gets to position their services as the logical next step. Everybody wins.