Make Your Sponsorship Pay for Itself

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on August 1, 2011
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Local events are always in need of sponsors, and they can be a great way to increase brand awareness and exposure for your small business.  But, like all marketing tactics, potential sponsorship agreements require strategic evaluation to determine whether you’ll see a benefit from your investment. Here are four ways to get the most out of any local sponsorship.

Know who’s coming. It can be tempting to jump into sponsoring popular events in your city, but heavy attendance is meaningless if the audience isn’t made up of your target market. Mike Sprouse, chief marketing officer for Epic Media Group, entrepreneur and author of The Greatness Gap, says that unless an event is being held for the first time, potential sponsors should have access to lists of past attendees and their demographic profiles, and be aware of past or anticipated event sponsors. Before you shell out any cash, analyze this information and evaluate whether the event reaches the prospects you value.

Word is being spread. Regardless of the cause, an event that lacks strong internal marketing support will provide limited benefits to you as a sponsor.  Confirm whether the event itself is being promoted by organizers, where it’s being marketed, and how much effort is being put into the publicity push. (Obviously, any event that has secured local media coverage and support will provide greater exposure and potential payoff for sponsors.)

It supports you. Ask event organizers for old marketing materials from the previous event to see whether the signage, advertising, online, and news coverage included promotion and mention of sponsors. Be aware that when it comes to larger events, minor sponsors will receive far less (if any) publicity in event collateral compared to key sponsors.

You can negotiate. Should you decide to move forward with a sponsorship, remember that barter and trade agreements are alive and well. Sprouse suggests providing “discounts to event organizers or attendees for product or services, rather than writing a big check, or volunteering in exchange for sponsorship, which costs nothing but sweat and time.” Another option might include negotiating exchanges that will boost your presence at the event, either through better, larger placement, or by adding marketing elements to your sponsorship agreement.

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