Sponsoring a local event — like a fun run or a festival — is a great way to boost exposure for your small business and connect directly with potential customers, while also contributing to your local community.
To maximize the benefits of event sponsorship, you’ll want to do it right. Learn how hosting or sponsoring events can be an effective part of your local marketing plan and find out how to make the most of the event for your business.
As with any marketing plan, efforts should be specifically tailored to your target audience. Sponsoring an event is no exception. The most important decision will be choosing the right event. For the partnership to have the most impact, it needs to be a good fit for your brand.
Consider Lululemon. The athletic apparel giant hosts immensely popular running events in cities across Canada including Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto. More than just a running race, these are full-scale events often with entertainment, pop-up shops, food vendors and, of course, premium post-race swag and goodies. Co-sponsors include brands that appeal to Lululemon’s target demographic — mainly women between the ages of 25-40 — like Saje, a natural wellness retailer, or Flow alkaline water, which comes in fully recyclable packing.
While any brand might jump at the chance to market itself to thousands of people riding the post-run adrenaline high, Lululemon and its sponsoring partners, as well as the vendors selling product on site, are aligned value-wise with a focus on health, overall wellness, and eco-consciousness.
Not only is it in Lululemon’s best interests to ensure that sponsoring partners reflect their brand’s values, but sponsors also benefit from access to the perfect audience for their products. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works on all levels. The right partnership ensures that your brand makes the right impression with the right audience.
Be selective about the events that your business sponsors. It might be difficult to say no when someone knocks on your door, but realistically, both parties will get the most benefit by investing in partnerships that share a similar brand and audience.
Having said that, it’s important to give back — even in a small way — to the local community that supports your business. You shouldn’t expect a huge ROI especially when supporting non-profit or charity events, but giving back and fostering goodwill in the greater community is incredibly important too.
So, what is actually expected of you as an event sponsor? Generally speaking, an event sponsor is a business or company that provides support, usually funding, to help with the planning and execution of an event in exchange for marketing exposure. Other ways to get involved may include contributing product (for a raffle or silent auction) or providing venue space to host the event. There are plenty of ways to lend your support to help get an event off the ground.
And in return, there are many ways you can leverage the partnership to gain important exposure for your company. Depending on the event, maybe you can set up a booth onsite, deliver a presentation onstage, or hand out prizes. The best results will involve more than simply having your logo appear somewhere on the website.
It will also be important for both your business and the event organizer to effectively market the event on all appropriate channels — to not only promote the partnership, but to also ensure the event is well attended.
Don’t forget to post an event followup on social media. If your company installed a free furnace to a family in need, write a blog about it on your website. If you sponsored a charity gala by providing a silent auction item, post a photo with the recipient on Instagram. Consumers increasingly expect that businesses will be active in their community and give back in meaningful ways. People want to see those partnerships in action and see the real ways in which your business contributes to the betterment of the community.
Event sponsorships provide value not only to the event organizers who rely on extra funds or gifts to make their event a success, but also to the sponsors who benefit from local marketing efforts and, if nothing else, some good community mojo. Get out there and work with local partners that reflect your brand’s values and make it a regular event! It will go a long way in securing your position as a business that is committed to contributing positively to the local community.