5 Keys To Sponsorship Marketing

I was in D.C. with my family and we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  There's a lot of cool stuff there, but the marketer in me noticed the names and logos on the airplanes from the first flights across the Atlantic and around the world.  It got me thinking about sponsorship marketing again - something I had done a lot of at previous points in my career but haven't talked about in a while.

One of the key channels in marketing since its inception has been sponsorships.  Getting your name out and associating your brand with well know entities and events has been critical for companies for ages and even up to today.  Billions of dollars are spent by the largest companies on the planet getting their products and services you through sponsorship of sporting events and teams, festivals and concerts and even personalities and celebrities.  The equity that sponsorships draw to your brand can be a key attribute in building it.

That being said, not all of us are able to sponsor big concert tours or golf events.  So how can sponsorships play a role for your business?  Here's 5 keys to think about:

  1. Find events that fits with your target audience - knowing what and where your customers are and what kinds of things they are drawn to should act as a key filter to whether you sponsor a wine tasting, a 5K or hot dog eating contest.  Don't fall into the trap of sponsoring things you like (other than for altruistic reasons) without knowing if you customers will be there or not.  Take the external perspective and make it a business decision.
  2. Make sure there is a match of brands - you want to be sure that your brand will be put in the best possible light as it relates to your product and service.  Never sponsor an event that is below your brand standard and if you have the chance to "trade up" by aligning yourself with a high equity property all the better.
  3. Understand what you're getting into money wise - oftentimes sponsorships fail because you've spent all your money on the sponsorship and haven't set aside any to activate it.  You have to invest additional money to make sure you are leveraging the sponsorship for your marketing needs because the property you are sponsoring will want to make you happy but they will be focused on making their things successful first.
  4. Know what you can get out of if you need to - you never know what may have to a event or a person you are sponsoring.  I think we've all seen big time personalities fall from grace and are thankful (if we could) that our brand wasn't with them.  You want to make sure that you have the chance to get out of sponsoring things when bad stuff happens or changes occur that are not in the best interest of your company.
  5. Do it for the right reasons - sponsorships should be something your organization can rally around as much as the inherit benefit for getting your name out into the market.  Make sure your teams and you are excited about the sponsorship - it will add fuel to fire you should get from the sponsorship.  And even if it doesn't provide a solid return on marketing investment the "feel good" component can help with things beyond marketing like employee morale and corporate and social responsibility.

Sponsorships will continue to be an integral part of brand building.  Just make sure that you set the proper goals and expectations about what and why you are doing it and what you expect to get out of it.