Sponsorship provides a great means of broadening your competitive edge by improving your company’s image, prestige and credibility by supporting events that your target market finds attractive. In recent years, corporate sponsorship has become the fastest growing type of marketing in the United States.
Part of this growth can be attributed to the increasing numbers of small and medium-sized businesses involved. Previously, only large businesses could afford to sponsor cause marketing, for instance, as a way of boosting profits as well as establishing goodwill. However, now smaller companies are sponsoring everything from local volleyball and softball teams to fairs, festivals and clean-ups of parks as an effective method of boosting their visibility in their community. Most of these sponsorships help these companies to enhance their public profile relatively cheaply.
Irrespective of the size of the company, however, experts in the field tout a broad spectrum of benefits that can be gained by sponsorship aside from enhancing visibility and image, such as differentiating the company from competitors, helping to develop closer and better relationships with customers, both existing and potential ones, showcasing services and products, and even getting rid of outdated inventory. These experts go on to say that when sponsorships are strategic and well-conceived, they can boost both short-term and long-term sales.
Event Sponsorship Benefits
Sponsorship of events in particular can be especially effective as a marketing tool because it can be a means of accessing a wide range of audiences such as decision makers in business, government entities, and of course customers. It can be particularly beneficial for companies that take part in international trade, because sponsorship transcends cultural and language barriers.
A growing number of marketers think that corporate sponsorship is better than other methods as it provides opportunities to gauge customer response to products immediately. Events allow business owners or executives relate directly with their customers, while they give customers the opportunity to try out the products of a company firsthand. In comparison, marketing research methods such as focus groups are usually costly and may not focus on the right kind of people, while market surveys or questionnaires usually do not allow prospective customers the opportunity to try out products.
Heightened visibility due to positive publicity through the media is another reason corporate sponsorship of events – especially those that attract large numbers of people like popular sports events – can be the most effective marketing tool. Every corporate sponsor seeks the widest exposure possible in both print and electronic media. This publicity increases the visibility of the company’s products and services. The various kinds of media that cover the event usually include the names, and even pictures, of the sponsors. This kind of mass coverage by the media that the sponsor gets is usually unaffordable, if the company were to purchase it. Therefore, in order to maximize the impact, the company sponsoring the event should augment the media coverage the organizers arrange. In fact, sponsorship often can generate media coverage which may not have been otherwise available.
Sponsorship and Consumers
Given the propensity of consumers to associate sponsors with the event they promote, it is important for companies to select events that are appropriate with their product or corporate image. Therefore, before signing up, check out how the show is perceived. Does it have an up-scale, classy image? Does it have a clean image, or is its reputation less than what it should be? Companies should not be associated with any event or cause without first determining if the sponsorship has the potential of having any negative effects on them.
In addition, the organizers should also provide you with details like the target audience that are expected, media coverage plans, and what obligations you have as a sponsor. It is also important to find out the kind of support the organizers will provide, and exactly what your sponsorship money is buying.
Sponsorship that involves hospitality always appeals to companies. The advantages may involve exclusive networking opportunities like golf competitions or receptions of VIP’s, which can be used to meet significant customers and consolidate business associations. It is essential to appraise every opportunity and seek ways to marry them with your business and marketing goals.