Yes, I must confess, I am a sponsorship junkie! Why? Well, maybe it’s just because it makes me feel good and gives me a sense of being a decent human being, one that cares about the community – maybe even the world! Choosing between advertising and sponsoring – a complete no-brainer. Sponsorship is more effective, more fun, far nobler, and, yes, I would sponsor another 27 events in a heartbeat!
Why Sponsorship Is a Cut Above Advertising
The first time we sponsored an event, I was somewhat skeptical, in fact, I had little or no expectations of making any kind of gain and had simply agreed to support a friend. Little did I know the experience would completely change my perspective on advertising and marketing.
Having spent years applying conventional marketing and advertising strategies, sponsorship was new territory for me. I didn’t know that, as an event sponsor, you ingratiate yourself with thousands of people, piggyback on an event’s popularity and respect, and come out looking gallant, just because you have supported a popular gathering.
Therein lies the difference: advertisers promote their own goals, while sponsors support beloved teams, trendy events, or important causes. The altruistic image possessed by sponsors may seem a little phony; however, the truth remains that many events would never materialize without the support of sponsors.
Without boring you with too much detailed analysis, sponsorship comes with the following four major perks:
Image Boost: Sponsorship will have your image skyrocket, provided you choose the right event. Make sure to pick an event that is popular within your usual target group, and, when you do, the people in it will have more respect and, perhaps, even admiration for your business.
Emotional Connection: If you sponsor a celebrated event, fans of this event will love you for it. There is nothing quite as binding as a shared love, and this newly created connection most certainly leads to sales.
Up-Close and Personal with Your Target Group: Sponsorship brings you face-to-face with your target group at the event through merchandise, booths, banners, and flyers.
What You Need to Get Right
It should come as no surprise that, among my 27 sponsorship deals, some of them were more effective than others. We didn’t always get it right. What went wrong? Well, we just picked the wrong events, ones our regular target group did not attend.
Don’t sponsor for the sake of it. Be smart and use your head or, perhaps, in fact, your heart. Choose an event that your target group adores, an event you love just as much. By doing so, you facilitate a “meeting of hearts.” Your company will connect more deeply with potential customers who will reward you with trust, respect, and gratitude.
Needless to say, it’s pointless to sponsor an event that fails to bring you closer to your target group – and sponsoring an event that doesn’t capture your heart is equally fruitless.
Check Out Other Sponsors
Other sponsors can raise your profile or drag it down! Before you sign up for a sponsorship deal, make sure you are among greats.
Choosing the Right Sponsorship Package
Your choice of sponsorship packages is likely to depend on your budget. We have tried them all, from featuring as the main sponsor to being a side-act and merely getting a mention in event guides. Ultimately, you get what you pay for; just make sure to get value for your money.
What to Expect from Event Organizers
As a sponsor, you are in the driving seat. The event organizer is here to please and facilitate you, within the limits of your chosen package, of course. My advice is to make sure you avail yourself of all that is on offer.
The very best event organizers will offer you the following:
Co-Planning: On one or two occasions, we took an active role in the planning of the event, though, one must remember, this will take up a considerable chunk of your time.
Naming Rights: Events are often called after their sponsor or, at least, a section of the event is named thereafter. You may, for instance, get naming rights for one race out of a weeklong racing festival. The level of naming rights will depend on your investment.
Visibility: Event organizers must optimize your visibility by making prime advertising space available at the event venue, in event literature, and online.
Merchandising Opportunities: The event organizer should allow you to distribute product samples, do product demonstrations, and come face-to-face with potential customers.
Headlining the Promotion: Event organizers must mention your company in all press releases, event promotions, and advertisements.
VIP Tickets: You and your staff will receive VIP tickets and get the opportunity to meet the event’s main celebrities.
Hospitality and Corporate Boxes: Sponsors are often entertained in corporate boxes with food and drink provided free of charge.
Maximizing Your Visibility at the Event
Don’t sponsor an event unless you are determined to stand out. Usually, we bring an entire team, install several booths, have event organizers erect signage in every corner of the venue, organize product demonstrations and giveaways, and seek meetings with potential clients. Both the event organizer and your team must focus on getting your product or service out to every single event attendee.
Benefiting Beyond the Event
There are two ways in which to extend your sponsorship beyond the event:
Media Reports: Most events enjoy media and press reviews that further mention your company’s generous involvement. Organizers also engage in post-event promotions and will, again, highlight your sponsorship.
Lead Generation: We have taken countless hot leads away from events, and closed deals in the subsequent days or weeks. Speedy customer-driven follow-up is key.
After sponsoring 27 events, I am a self-confessed sponsorship junkie and would never limit my marketing and promotional activities to advertising alone. Our company image has grown in strength and depth, and I cannot imagine a better way of gaining the trust and respect of existing as well as new customers. To me, advertising is one-dimensional while sponsorship is multi-faceted.
The next time you attend an event, look out for the sponsors and examine your emotions. You will, just like all other attendees, find a fondness in your heart that is bound to influence your next purchase. Remember, your company could be there, too!