Event sponsorship can power other critical marketing efforts and gets quick results, which makes it a secret weapon of small and startup businesses.
Sponsorship is a popular strategy for businesses that want to grow fast and reach specific audiences.
Brand strategy firm ESP Properties expects 2018 sponsorship spending in North America will have reached $24.2 billion.
Why the growth? Companies know in today’s world it takes an interactive, cross-channel approach to get attention and sway opinions more effectively. Overstimulated customers are tuning out of uninvited “push” messages whenever possible.
The Benefits of Event Sponsorship for Small Business
Sponsorship of offline events is a far less intrusive way to engage with customers. And it’s not just for large corporations. Even small and new businesses can use sponsorship to create a natural dialogue with specific audiences to strengthen customer relationships and build loyalty. Often the foundation for new relationships forged through sponsorship starts on a common ground. And that builds trust between the brand and customers more easily.
What is Event Sponsorship?
Sponsorship is a specialized public relations strategy where a company provides financial support or in-kind services to an event or organization. The objectives can vary, but much of the time it’s to grow public awareness for the company and/or shape public perception. (There are a lot of side benefits, too.) Common recipients of sponsorship contributions include sports teams, public entertainment venues, and non-profits.
Sponsorship can involve co-branded events or programs, product sales that benefit a cause, public service announcements (PSAs), and much more.
As a start-up or small business, you might consider giving sponsorship a place in your overarching PR strategy because it has rapid positioning power. And ultimately, great positioning will influence your bottom line.
4 Reasons Why Sponsorship Gets Quick Results
Here are four ways your company can reap the benefits of event sponsorship.
An offline sponsorship is guaranteed to reach the audience, whereas, in other forms of PR, the media may not pick up the story the first time around. It could take several attempts and cost more in the process. If you sponsor an event, you’ll gain access to a public following that exists and often a membership base.
Event producers usually provide you with information about the expected attendees of the event ahead of time. You can research and plan a hands-on marketing strategy that could include meetings, merchandise sales, sampling and growing your email list, for example.
You can arrange to be front and center with your target audience, accomplishing multiple interactive goals simultaneously. From the sponsorship’s onset, you can send cost-effective, targeted and personalized messages (virtually and in person), and you can be 100% sure the audience gets them.
Instant Credible and Relatable Consumer Perception
Brands use sponsorship to influence public perception more rapidly than other mediums because it leverages the power of collective credibility. According to a recent study, 74% of respondents said engaging with brands at events and live experiences makes them much more likely to buy their product.
When people see your brand paired with other recognized brands, like the other sponsors and the sponsored event or organization itself, they perceive your company to be profitable and successful. People will suppose that if you can support other groups and events then you must be achieving a good market share.
Your brand can also gain favorability and positive attention. Some of this is attributed to the halo effect, which happens when consumers transmit their warm fuzzies from their favorable experience to brands in close association with that experience.
Your company’s involvement with a charity or cause, for example, could build customer perception that your company values contribution. Start-ups and small businesses can make use of the halo effect to gain an edge over the more established competition because customers, especially millennials, tend to support companies with well-meaning causes.
Multiple Exposure Points
A lot of sponsorships come in the form of a package that might include signage, branded giveaways, experiential activities, press, and social media mentions. The package offers multiple opportunities for the brand to engage the audience across different mediums which breeds familiarity and positive feelings by repetition. Changing the medium means customers hear your message many times, yet the message never seems overplayed to them. They experience fresh avenues for delivery, and the diversity of methods insures higher connection rates. What’s more, a sponsorship with multiple points of exposure allows you to create fully integrated campaigns that tell your brand’s authentic story and makes your advertising investments more efficient.
A Mecca for Content Creation
If you’re looking for a way to supply your marketing and PR initiatives with content, sponsorship delivers in buckets. Brands often use a sponsorship platform to create and capture content that amplifies the reach of marketing and PR efforts. From a single sponsored event, you can gather footage for YouTube, audience feedback through surveys and testimonials, material for blog articles or podcasts and more.
There’s also an opportunity to leverage the audience’s content creation. A 2016 study by The Event Marketing Institute revealed that almost ALL consumers surveyed create and share some type of digital or social content while attending events. (e.g., photos, videos, tweets, blogs or social media posts)
Through sponsorship positioning, your brand can tag along with all that shared content. The audience can help spread your brand message, and may even at times tack on authentic endorsements. Sponsorship creates a perfect environment for the audience to embrace your brand and pass it into the hands of other potential customers on your behalf.
Conclusion – the Benefits of Event Sponsorship
There are a lot of moving parts to planning and executing a sponsorship successfully. But it doesn’t have to eat up your budget, and the returns can be huge. So, keep sponsorship in mind as your company explores cross-channel marketing strategies. Your Marketing and PR team can help you select, prepare for and track results after a sponsorship so that you get the very best out of your investment.
Audrey Ryan is a freelance business writer and former sponsorship strategist for Global Spectrum and Legends Sales and Marketing.
She has a BA in Public Relations from Texas Tech University. Find her at AudreyLeeRyan.com.