I was with a client last week brainstorming low-cost marketing ideas when I stumbled across the fact that they had a long-standing sponsorship arrangement with a local golf club. I use the term ‘sponsorship’ loosely; it actually consisted of a rather faded board with a logo on it somewhere around the course. Clearly there was potential to make much more of the arrangement and, by the end of the discussion, we had come up with an exciting plan to really leverage the deal.
Like any other tactical marketing activity, the use of sponsorship must fit into, and work with, your overall strategy. It must, of course, be relevant; there is probably no point sponsoring a basketball team if your target market is mum’s with pre-school aged children for example.
Another key element to a good sponsorship arrangement is the opportunity for ‘activation’. Simply put, activation refers to how you use the elements of your sponsorship deal beyond simply slapping a logo on a sports kit or putting up a billboard at a venue. It is imperative that you put time and money into developing an activation plan to get the best out of your sponsorship opportunity.
There are no end of creative ways to activate your sponsorship deal; here are just a few to think about:
- PR – make sure that you take advantage of every opportunity to create a positive association between your brand and the team/individual or event that you are sponsoring. Include online media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs as well as the more traditional methods.
- Sales promotions – can you offer free samples or special offers to supporters and participants via a database, e-newsletter or fanzine?
- Hospitality – reward loyal customers, staff or potential new customers with VIP tickets to events.
- Signage/logo placement – create positive awareness and reinforcement of your brand among your target market.
- Marketing campaigns – develop marketing campaigns around your sponsorship to gain maximum value.
When most people think about sponsorship they imagine big brands and even bigger bucks. I believe that, with a great deal of focus and a good measure of creativity and commitment, small businesses can implement sponsorship arrangements that can be highly effective in building awareness.