A lot of small to medium sized enterprises think it’s out of their league in terms of spending. And sure, if you’re thinking of being the naming sponsor of a stadium, for example, you probably need to be a big company, like Suncorp.
But if you don’t have your sights set on a stadium, there’s no shortage of sponsorship opportunities out there – and for SMEs, sponsorship is usually more cost effective and successful than traditional forms of advertising.
It’s just about finding the right one and then maximising your return on investment.
By Kirsty Jagger, Principal Consultant, Jagged Edge Communications
Finding the right event
I’m an advocate for supporting charity events.
Maybe I’m biased but, having worked in the not for profit sector, I know there’s a wholesome feel-good vibe that is associated with charity events, which creates positive brand association.
And, having worked as a journalist, I know charity events are more likely to get media coverage.
Ultimately, it’s a really positive and inexpensive way to market your business while doing a good deed.
Getting more bang for your buck
I mentioned above, sponsorship is usually more cost effective and successful for SMEs than traditional forms of advertising. And there’s a reason the big companies are all over it.
- Your money and message goes further
Take print advertising, for example – it’s hugely expensive. And placing a one-off advert is a complete waste of money. Brand awareness is born of repetition. So unless you can commit to a long term strategy, you’re throwing away valuable sponsorship dollars.
To give you an idea – the cost of one quarter page advertisement in the local newspaper could equate to the entire cost of a charitable sponsorship opportunity. And with the sponsorship opportunity you’d get more brand exposure, over a longer period of time.
- Positive brand association and networking
Not only will your message go further, it will be more penetrative. Think about how you engage with adverts in a newspaper – you probably flip right past them. We skip commercials, even ignore Google AdWords, and I’m not the only one who hates the ads at the start of YouTube clips, surely!
You’re not hard selling, which we all know people hate. You’re just there, helping out a good cause … “And by the way, this is what we do. Please let us know if we can ever help you.” All the pre-event marketing has subtly built brand awareness and credibility – now you can network face-to-face, supported by that, building further trust and rapport with customers.
Really though, the trick to getting more bang for your buck is being engaged. So here are my top five tips for maximising your return in investment.
Five steps to success as a sponsor
- Engage your networks.
Understand that the more successful the event is for organisers, the more successful it is for sponsors, and vice versa.
Pick an event you can really get behind, support a charity you truly believe in – it’s best to be genuine about these things; you’ll be more convincing when it comes to engaging your networks and you’ll also have a greater desire to succeed.
Then reach out to your friends, family, colleagues and customers. Let them know what you’re doing, how they can help and encourage them to invite their networks, personal or professional, to get involved too.
- Get involved.
Say it’s a fun run – don’t just have a marque. Get in amongst it!
Register a team, contribute to the fundraising/awareness raising efforts and, on the day, make sure your team are branded.
Traditional methods of advertising are usually a one way conversation. Sponsorship gives you some face time with your audience; the ability to have a two-way conversation.
This is an opportunity to humanise your brand and build comradeship, trust and rapport, as you network with customers and prospects.
- Make a contribution.
Not necessarily a financial one, since you’ve already been so generous. But as I was saying earlier, people are becoming savvier about being sold to; engagement with traditional forms of advertising is trending down, while engagement with shareable content is trending up.
Remember, don’t hard sell. Try to create sharable, credible, personable content – something helpful, interesting or relatable that is relevant to the cause. In this case, it may be how your team is preparing for the fun run. Include a business bio and web link at the end.
Ask the event organiser to publish this content on their website, share in their newsletter and on social media. This will send their followers your way.
- Like, share, comment.
Then return the favour and send your followers their way.
Be engaged on social media. Like, share and comment on posts that are related to you, or can be related back to you.
The whole idea behind advertising, behind sponsorship, is being seen – over and over and over again. Being active on social media maximises brand awareness and increases engagement with the audience you’ve spent good money to reach.
And don’t forget to share the journey you’re on with your existing followers.
If you haven’t converted them into customers before, or they have been one-off clients, this could be the perfect opportunity to re-engage them. It’s also a great way to strengthen relationships with clients that you want to retain.
- Make it something more.
There’s a great opportunity to turn this into more than a marketing venture.
Thinking longer term, you could use an event such as a fun run as a team building exercise – not just the day, but training in the lead up to it. You could also build the sponsorship of it into your corporate social responsibility strategy.
Show that this isn’t a one-off PR stunt; that you do care genuinely about the cause you have chosen to support and want to see it succeed long term.
Undertaking socially responsible initiatives is truly a win-win situation. Not only will your company appeal to socially conscious consumers and employees, but you’ll also make a real difference to the community.
Now, looky here…
Kirsty Jagger is the founder of Jagged Edge Communications, a proud media partner of the inaugural Gold Coast Ramble, being held on 26 March 2017.
The first event of its kind on the East Coast of Australia, this Amazing Race-esque styled treasure hunt is suitable for all levels of fitness, accessible by pram and wheelchair, and will raise funds and awareness for the following charities:
- The Salvation Army/Red Shield Appeal Gold Coast
- PCYC Gold Coast
- Australian Anti Ice Campaign
- Gold Coast Community Fund
- Gold Coast Project for Youth Homelessness
We’re helping them out by donating our time to create their marketing plans, website copy, media releases and manage their social media. You can show your support by registering a team at https://gcramble.eventbrite.com.au/. Join the conversation using #GCramble on Facebook and Twitter.