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Sponsorships: How to make the most of your investments
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As a small business, you are likely asked by a number of organizations to “sponsor” their events or organizational programs. From church groups to soccer teams to fundraising drives, the list often feels endless and overwhelming. Additionally, because you want to help and be an effective local supporter, it’s often hard to say no.That’s why it’s a good idea to include a sponsorship strategy as part of your overall marketing plan. A concrete set of guidelines and objectives is important to making the most of your sponsorship marketing dollars, as well as successfully conveying your business’ philanthropic interests.

Set goals
Begin by assessing what you hope to achieve through sponsorship. Ask the following questions:

  1. Is your business seeking to increase brand awareness through sponsorship?
  2. Do you anticipate sponsorship to provide leads or sales conversions?
  3. Is sponsorship an important consideration for your business culture and employees?
  4. Should sponsorship be just for your business’s sake or also for the greater good?

Outline parameters
Next, parameters should be established to provide a methodology (and fall back plan!) for when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.” Regardless of the goals established the following parameters need to be considered:

  • Target audiences (internal and/or external) – How many people will be positively affected by the sponsorship? Does the target audience of those affected align with your business’s audience?
  • Budget – This looks at the ratio of sponsorship dollars in comparison to overall marketing expenses. Is the investment a good “bang for your buck,” and does it deliver the best ratio of impact for your business and the community for its monetary investment? Also assess the following:
    • Lost opportunity – The money you’re investing could be allocated differently for the business and for the community.
    • Is your investment being used to directly promote the sponsorship and your business’s involvement?
  • Community impact – Is the program or event likely to succeed with its promotional efforts and leadership? Also look at the total amount of resources required to achieve results to determine the effect of your business’s contribution alone.
  • Business impact – How likely will this philanthropic investment help in achieving your business’s established goals? Consider any additional personnel or other resources that may be required to fulfill your sponsorship commitment. How will you measure its impact once the event or program is over?

Make an impact
After analyzing the opportunities and committing to a sponsorship, it’s important to make the most of it. Spread the word to help both the nonprofit and your business. Send a press release, include it in your company e-newsletters, and offer it on your website’s home page. Don’t be shy about making a visual statement. For example:

  • If sponsoring an event, provide logo’d Pique Sport Shirts or Wave Caps to those attending from your business so they are easily spotted.
  • If it’s a Chamber of Commerce or other annual dinner, and you’re the table sponsor, ask to help with the table centerpieces and include branded Hip Clip Holders in the decorations to hold the table designation signage.
  • Sponsoring a beach-themed golf outing for the Boys & Girls Club? Hand out Beach Coolers to all the participants! Fill them with Beach Towels and blow up Beach Balls for extra exposure.
  • If sponsoring the name of a local sports team, pass out soccer-inspired Sport Can Coolers to crowd-filled stands. It will build goodwill and is perfect for any game!

No matter what organization, program or event your business elects to sponsor, having a plan in place that establishes the goals and results will ensure a successful sponsorship – one that not only benefits your business, but the charity, too.

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