Why We Love Sponsorship (And You Should, Too!)
After last week’s post about failing in sponsorship and why failure isn’t the end of the world, I wanted to talk about something a little more positive today: sponsorship benefits. Most of the time, when discussing benefits in sponsorship, it’s more of what the sponsor gets than it is the perks for you.
I’m not saying that a sponsor’s benefits aren’t important, as you absolutely need to provide value to the sponsor to convince them to accept a working partnership with you. Yet what kind of benefits can your company or organization enjoy besides more money?
In other words, why should you love sponsorship?
Here are the reasons I love sponsorship:
- Businesses get great promotion
- Sponsorship can lead to perks like more web traffic and leads
- You could be the first to market
- You get to flex your creative muscles
- You can be recommended other valuable partners through your sponsor
- You learn more about your business and your audience
I know it makes sense for me to love sponsorship, considering it’s my job and all. Yet I want you to love sponsorship too. Ahead, I’ll talk more about the kinds of benefits your business or organization might experience that will have made the entire sponsorship process well worth it.
6 Great Reasons I Love Sponsorship (And I Hope You Will Too)
Sponsorship Is a Huge Promotional Opportunity for Small Businesses and Organizations
When you pick up the newspaper (yes, some people still read newspapers) or click onto your local news website, don’t you wish you were part of the headlining story? Yet if you ever receive any coverage at all, you’re relegated to a short blurb that you know doesn’t get many views.
It’s not just that you want promotion for the glory of it, although that’s nice too. You want people to know your name so you can further your business. If you’re a not-for-profit, then promotions help you increase donations. For businesses, leads can become buying customers who increase your bottom line.
You may have run marketing campaign after marketing campaign to attract attention, but all this does is suck money out of your company’s wallet and marginally increase your engagement.
By attaching yourself to the name of a bigger company through sponsorship, the publicity you’ve long sought can follow. Now, rather than just being the blurb, you are the main headline.
A Successful Event Has Major Positive Aftereffects, Including the Chance to Grow Your Audience
You put together a pretty bang-up sponsorship proposal, waited to send it, and fostered a great relationship with a sponsor. You and your sponsor ironed out details and finances for your event, which was your most successful in your company’s history. You know this because you kept careful attendance data.
Everything you’ve done to this point was planting the seeds and tending to the growing crop. Now has come the time to harvest your crop, which should be bountiful.
You may have a robust list of email newsletter subscribers. Your website is getting hit after hit and you have more social media followers than ever. Life is pretty sweet for you right now, and it’s all because you had an awesome sponsor for your event.
You can keep the momentum going with another event on the calendar, but if what you just hosted was an annual gala or gathering of some kind, then right now is the time to capitalize. Ideally, you should have prepared for the increased attention your company would get.
Not to get too marketing-specific, but pop-ups or forms that encourage leads to sign up are helpful to add to your site. Insert more lead magnets in your blog content to increase your audience. Have an email automation workflow in place so your new subscribers get follow-up emails sent to them automatically. After all, you probably need a breather after your event!
Yet don’t take too long of a break. Time is truly of the essence here. You’re the big thing now, but in a few days, the next big thing will take over and the leftover media interest from your event will dissipate.
If you capitalized on the attention, then once your star fades, this isn’t such a big deal. Yet if you assume that because you had a sponsored event once that the leads and website traffic will keep on coming weeks or months from now, you’re going to end up sorely disappointed.
You Could Be the First to Market
Being the first to market is something I talked about in my post on intangible versus tangible sponsorship benefits, which I recommend you give a read if you haven’t already.
What does it mean to be the first to market? Allow me to explain.
Have you ever heard of a new product or service that’s so obvious yet so good at the same time? It’s one of those things that makes you say: “why didn’t I think of that?” I’m not telling you that you have to invent the next hottest thing, but what if you find an unexplored niche and then double-down on it with your event?
For instance, in Finland, there’s the Wife Carrying World Championship. I swear, it is a thing. Oh, and over in Spain, they have the Baby Jumping Festival, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Are those strange examples? You betcha, but they’re known events. Even Burning Man–one of the biggest events in North America–became the household name it is because of someone’s off-the-wall idea.
If you’re the first to market and your event catches on, it could someday reach the same level of popularity as Burning Man or maybe even the Baby Jumping Festival. People will look forward to your event every year. They’ll know it happens on X week of Y month and plan their schedules around it.
At that point, you’d probably have sponsors courting you rather than the other way around! Wouldn’t that be nice?
I can’t stress enough that being the first to market is a combination of timing, creativity, and luck. It may not happen, but then again, it might!
You Get to Be Creative in the Sponsorship Process
Speaking of creative events, creativity is a huge part of the sponsorship process. Okay, not necessarily in all areas, but in enough of them that this is worth talking about.
As you create your list of assets, you need to come up with awesome tangible and intangible assets, some of which I covered in that link in the section above. Thinking creatively will help you make a long list of assets, but you need to know when to switch to logic mode.
What do I mean by that? You’ll price or valuate your assets next, and this part of the process is often is a cold, hard dose of reality. You might learn that your creative assets aren’t as valuable as you thought, so you’ll have to discard them. Not doing so could jeopardize your progress. It’s a shame when creativity and value don’t intersect, but it happens.
Where sponsors do appreciate creativity is in your activation ideas. When the time comes to add activation ideas to your sponsorship package, you don’t only want to do it for the target sponsor, but for your own business or organization’s sake too.
After all, the more creative and unique your activation ideas are, the bigger buzz they’ll generate at your event. Heck, I even worked with a company that had fire dancers and fire breathers at their event. The dancers spelled out the sponsor’s names in fire.
If it fits your company’s M.O., then there’s nothing stopping you from being just as brazen with your activation ideas. Well, two things. One, you have to make sure you have the budget, and two, your activation idea must be feasible.
If fire-breathers sound crazy, that’s because the whole idea was, but you know what? That activation idea stuck with me as well as the company that hosted the event. Years went by and the fire spectacle still comes up. And why wouldn’t it? It’s hard to forget something like that.
If I haven’t forgotten it and the event-holders haven’t forgotten it, you can bet the attendees haven’t either.
So go ahead, be creative. Come up with activation ideas on par with fire dancers spelling out a sponsor’s name in flames. Dreaming up activation ideas is one of the best parts of the sponsorship process, so have some fun with it!
You Could Gain Other Valuable Partners Through Your Sponsor
I’ve talked on this blog several times about contra sponsorships and other non-cash offerings. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, I may sound like a bit of a broken record when I say that these assets are often even more valuable than cold, hard cash.
If you really get in good with a sponsor and you two develop a long-term professional relationship, they may recommend you valuable partners or opportunities even outside of an ongoing sponsorship.
Maybe they just worked with another company and had great luck with a vendor, so they wanted to pass on the name to you. You decide to try the vendor and, sure enough, they are indeed as wonderful as your sponsor said they’d be.
Perhaps your sponsor company calls with a business opportunity that has nothing to do with sponsorship. Had you not fostered such a good relationship, some other lucky company would have gotten that phone call, but it went to you.
It’s hard to put a value on these kinds of opportunities, numerical value or otherwise. Even if the sponsor company tells you about a webinar or training course that can help you run your company better, that’s still hugely valuable.
All along, make sure you’re keeping an eye out for the sponsor company as well. Just like a sponsorship arrangement shouldn’t be one-sided, nor should a business relationship. If all you do is take, take, take, you begin to erode the goodwill between you and the sponsor company.
You Get to Know Your Business–and More Importantly–Your Audience
Tell me if this seems familiar. Your business has really started growing within the last year. You’ve wanted to stop and assess your growth, but there just never seems to be time. How far have you come? Who is now your audience as you’ve tasted more and more success?
These are questions that you can wave away until a quarterly or annual review, if the matter even comes up then. Yet when pursuing sponsorship, you’re forced to answer these questions. If you don’t know what you stand for, you won’t get far very in the sponsorship process. The same is true if you don’t know your audience.
Even if you fail to get a sponsor right this moment, you can take away this knowledge. Having a firm grasp on who your company is and the people who support it is significant in its own way. You understand which audience segments to pursue so you can more effectively engage with your customers. You can introduce products and services that are tailored to the needs of your audience. In short, you will grow.
Each time you take on a new sponsor, you get to shine a light on the inner workings of your company and take a deeper look at what’s there. Those kinds of opportunities don’t come about nearly as often as they should, especially considering the dividends this research can pay back!
Look, I’ll make no secret of it. I love sponsorship. I know some people who have tried and failed at sponsorship can groan even looking at the word. I understand how frustrating it’s been. I too have been in a position where target sponsors don’t call back or long-term sponsors bail.
Sometimes it helps to see what’s on the other side of the rainbow, so to speak. In sponsorship, there could be a huge pot of gold awaiting you. You can build valuable relationships, strengthen your audience, use your creativity, and grow further through sponsorship. It’s about more than money and more than about getting your event on the map. Sponsorship is about benefitting your business just as it is the target sponsor’s. Best of luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.