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How to Effectively Sponsor Events in Your Local Community

In your local community, you’ve been approached by every little league team, charity fundraiser organizer, 5K race coordinator, youth soccer group, and we could go on and on.  You may have wondered How do I choose what groups and events to sponsor? Is there a more efficient way to be a sponsor of these events?

Jeff Haden explains in his article, Sponsoring an Event? Tips to Maximize Your Return, When you sponsor an event your focus should always be on the quality rather than the quantity of brand impressions.”

Event factors to consider are:

  1. Will your target demographic be in attendance?
  2. Does the event represent your brand culture?
  3. How will your brand add value to the event?
  4. What will you receive for your investment?

Will Your Target Demographic Be in Attendance?

Many community events draw numerous demographics. Little league events always have grandparents and parents in attendance, 5K races attract all age ranges and groups of people. More niche events in the community, such as concerts or charity fundraisers, can attract a more specific crowd. You may want an overview of the type of audience expected to attend an event before you agree to be a sponsor. If no one who will benefit from your products or services will be there, you’re just throwing money down the drain. 

Does the Event Represent Your Brand Culture?

Every event provides an experience. The key is to partner with events that provide an experience people will associate positively with your brand and further characterizes and adds depth to your brand.  A motocross event with bikini-clad flag girls that’s also sponsored by a beer company and an energy drink may not fit the family-friendly, community-focused image you strive to create for your practice.

Think about how the event will fit with your established brand culture and how your brand culture fits with the event. If the pieces don’t align, you may want to hold off for the next sponsorship opportunity.

Related: What is Your Marketing Message?

How Will Your Brand Add Value to the Event?

Maybe it’s a product, or experience, or resource. Maybe you can add free hearing screening coupons to the “swag bags” that event participants receive. This not only gives the participants something of value, it gives you a way to track the business that comes back to you from your sponsorship.

What Will You Receive for Your Investment?

While supporting your community groups, sponsorship is also a marketing investment for your practice. Make sure you know what you’re getting in return. There are usually different event sponsorship levels. Some opportunities to ask about are:

Business Category Exclusivity

You don’t just want to offer information, discounts, or services at an event—you want to be the only one offering it. If you can be the official, exclusive vendor in your field for a local event, that will lend your brand an air of authority. Negotiate for exclusivity if at all possible.

Access to Customer Mailing Lists

As Cox Blue explains, “Sponsoring an event means getting acquainted with the attendees. It might even mean tapping into mailing lists that are loaded with names, email addresses, and phone numbers for potential customers. Any time you have the chance to track down new leads, go for it.”

A Chance to Display Your Content

Chances are, you’ve got plenty of informative content to offer, whether it’s hard copies of pamphlets, blog posts on your website, or a mix of the two. Sponsoring a local event gives you an opportunity to share your marketing materials and get extra exposure, which can greatly increase your small business’s visibility.

The proliferation of websites has created the ability of community event organizers to host their own individual websites.  When you’re approached by one of these groups you need to ask the following:

  1. Do you have a website?
  2. Can I purchase ad space on your website?
  3. Can the ad be designed to link to my company website?

Take advantage of inbound links to your content online. This not only strengthens your online authority, it can be a source of inbound marketing from your target demographic 

Lastly, don’t just cut a check; make sure you can (and plan to) engage.  Use your sponsorship and exposure at the event to engage with your target demographic, during and after. This will expand your investment and cultivate exposure, leads, and hopefully customers within the community. 

Related: What is Engagement & Why Does it Matter?