In the marketing world, sponsorships provide an opportunity for brands, both big and small, to increase their competitive advantage by supporting teams, events or charities that the brand cares about. Sponsorships are not to be confused with advertising, where a brand tries to persuade customers to buy their products or services through specific messaging. Through sponsorships, a firm align itself with a cause it cares about and is comfortable being associated with.
The popular notion regarding sponsorships is that it’s a preserve of the big companies and brands, those that generate instant recall and are possibly household names. However, smaller firms can get in on the action too, and the best part is that it doesn’t have to be at an extraordinary cost. There are plenty of opportunities for a small brand at a local level, be it sponsoring an art exhibition, a charity organisation, a recycling project or the local sports team. These are all avenues for gaining positive publicity and creating goodwill within the community, both desired outcomes for a business.
While the recipient of the sponsorship sees tangible benefits out of the relationship (goods, funding or services), the sponsor can also benefit in various ways. The returns may not always be monetary, but customer loyalty, brand awareness and lead generation are returns that can boost business in the long haul. Besides, the value of publicity gained from sponsorships can be worth a substantial sum for the price of a modest investment.
For a business, sponsorship can be anything from a long-term partnership to funding for a one-time event. Charity sponsorships are also alluring to many corporates, and with the existence of thousands of charities in the UK, businesses can be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing potential partners. Kevin Neal, a former independent financial advisor whose business sponsored senior and youth teams in the early 2000s, knows a business should consider several aspects when making a sponsorship decision.
Finding the right event or charity to sponsor must be done strategically so that the recipient party is one that shares the same values as the sponsoring entity. If it’s an event, it should be aligned with issues that the business is concerned about. The more relevant the cause, the more engaged a firm’s staff will be with supporting it.
A sponsorship arrangement allows both parties to enhance the authenticity and credibility of their messaging. By working together, a business and an organisation can achieve more tackling an issue of concern than they would if each did it on their own. A strong partnership can make a long-term impact on the community. Furthermore, taking a creative approach to sponsorship can help raise the profile of both entities. The Big Knit campaign in the UK is an example of a creative campaign that is among the most recognisable thanks to its unique approach.
A brand seeking sponsorship opportunities should start by considering its target audience, which is not necessarily the people it sells to, but those it wants to engage with more. At the back of its mind, the brand should consider what the goal is and find organisations that have access to the target audience. As highlighted, the organisation should be one that shares the same goals as the brand.
As much as possible, a brand has to measure the benefits of getting into a sponsorship agreement. Tracking leads, for example, can be a lot easier than brand recall or awareness. When done right, a strategic sponsorship opportunity can help a brand establish solid footing within a market while also ensuring a good cause gets the support it needs.