Are you thinking about sponsoring an event or an organization?
Partnering with the right nonprofit, corporation, or public figure is a great way to build your brand, your reputation, and your community. It can also be an excellent opportunity to gain visibility, expand your network, and possibly identify some potential customers!
But with so many sponsorship opportunities to choose from, how do you know which ones will provide the best return on your investment? Here are a few strategies to make sure that you’re choosing the right sponsorship for your brand.
How to Choose the Right Sponsorship Opportunity
1. Define the goal of your sponsorship.
What do you hope to get out of the sponsorship? Knowing your overall goal can help you determine what kind of organization you want to partner with—and how much you’re willing to spend.
For example, if your goal is to build brand reputation and community, sponsoring a nonprofit may be the way to go. But if you want an opportunity that puts you in front of potential customers, sponsoring an industry conference might be a better way to achieve those goals.
How do you know if the right people will be in the room? If there’s a target audience or demographic that’s important to you, ask to see a demographic breakdown of an organization’s members or event attendees.
If you aren’t sure that a particular sponsorship is going to meet your goals, I recommend trying to get a sense of the organization first. Sign up as a member of that business networking group, or attend an event as a participant. Pay close attention to who’s there with you AND the visibility of the current sponsors. That may help make your decision for a future partnership.
2. Choose a sponsorship that aligns with your brand.
Whether you’re sponsoring a golf tournament, a silent auction, or a sporting event, the goal is always to leave people with a stellar impression of your organization. If people walk away from the event with a positive impression of your brand and thinking “Wow, aren’t they fabulous for doing that?” then you’ve done well!
Some of the most powerful sponsorship opportunities occur when companies partner with nonprofits whose causes really matter to them. The synergy that can come from teaming up for a great cause is definitely media-worthy—not to mention it boosts morale and feels really good to contribute in that way!
The Partners With a Purpose series run by the Boston Business Journal is a great example of nonprofits and for-profit companies working together for the greater good.
There are definitely organizations that simply see sponsorships as a tax break or a way to get some cash off their books. Even if you’re looking for financial benefits from a sponsorship, I highly encourage you to be intentional. Choosing an organization that means something to your company can positively impact your entire team and your customer base.
3. Know what you’re getting out of a sponsorship opportunity.
The most successful sponsorships are beneficial to both parties. In return for the sponsor paying good money, the organization or corporation they’re partnering with should offer an enticing benefits package. Many sponsorship opportunities are centered around events, with additional benefits offered onsite or online.
Those benefits might include:
- Featuring your logo on signage or a step & repeat
- Including you as a sponsor in printed materials such as event programs
- Speaking opportunities (e.g., being briefly introduced or presenting an award)
- A dedicated table where you can host giveaways or offer free gifts
- Social media shoutouts
- Mention on the company website
- Opportunity to be on a panel, emcee a discussion, or even give a presentation (for example, at an industry conference)
- Chance to attend VIP social events, such as an exclusive cocktail hour
Closely evaluate the benefits of the sponsorship you’re considering. Is what’s being offered likely to help you meet your goals? If there’s another perk you’d like included, don’t be afraid to ask. There’s always room for negotiation with sponsorships, and you may be able to trade out benefits that feel less valuable to you—or even create a unique package with custom pricing.
4. Manage your expectations.
When it comes to sponsorships, the gold is in the follow-through. Make sure that you get clear documentation of exactly what you expect to get from your sponsorship. Then, assign someone in your organization to track those benefits and make sure that you receive them. Sponsorship fulfillment has a lot of moving parts, and nonprofits, for example, are often notoriously understaffed. It pays to be the squeaky wheel!
When it comes to expectations around sponsorships, the more you’re willing to give, the more you’ll get back. As the sponsor, you have a chance to create a strong impression of your brand. To do that, make sure that anyone who is representing you is excited, engaged, and enthusiastic (and please make sure you have at least one representative at any event you’re sponsoring!).
Of course, it’s important to be realistic. Sponsoring an event or organization won’t necessarily fill your sales pipeline or have journalists blowing up your phone the very next day. Generating goodwill toward your brand and garnering positive press takes time—and it has to be earned. The way to get there is to choose opportunities that are a great fit for your organization and keep showing up. You may not find out how powerful your participation is until much later, but rest assured that you’re making an investment in the future of your brand.
If you’re interested in pursuing a sponsorship opportunity, I’m here to help you every step of the way. Let’s chat about the right sponsorship strategy for your brand.