Peeling Back the Layers of Successful Sponsorships

By Kim Barclay

Why should your company consider any sponsorship?  There are more reasons than you think.  Everyone knows that sponsorships give you brand visibility.  Whether it be at an in-person event or an on-line presence, being a sponsor will get your company seen.  But it’s much deeper than that.  A sponsorship should be seen as an investment.  Yes, one expects return on that investment and to get the most bang for the buck, but most times there is not an immediate, tangible ROI.  Sponsorships need to be thought of as a foundation to build on.  Building relationships with organizations and individuals in your target market.  Being a sponsor can give you credibility, and a positive reputation and perception from your audience.

But sponsorship is a two-way street.  The benefiting organization needs to be flexible, open minded and listen to what potential sponsors want and how they want it.  The old standard of having levels with pre-selected benefits isn’t always the right fit.  Organizations need to reach out and ask potential sponsors what they are seeking and work together to make it happen.  Thinking out of the box and coming up with the most incredible and outrageous ideas, and then working down to what is reasonable and realistic is far easier and more creative than trying to work up hill.

Why should my company be a sponsor?

  1. Brand Visibility – Basic Marketing 101. Be seen in person and on social media.  The Event Marketing Institute reported that 98 percent of attendees create social content during events. When attendees share photos, quotes, videos, and blogs, you get exposure to much larger networks. User-generated content has a greater impact on customers, so make it easy for people to tag your business on social media.
  2. Creating a positive perception – Your target audience will be thankful for your “good will” for the good of the cause.
  3. Building relationships – Think long term. Foster and nurture your relationships.  You may not acquire direct business from a member or attendee, but they know who you are and will pass along your information and say how great you are.
  4. Networking and Sales Goals – Sponsorships are another tool for networking and meeting new potential clients and customers. As your prospect list grows, your ability to reach your sales goals increase.
  5. Return on Investment – The biggest mistake people and companies alike make, is expecting immediate customer and client interaction. ROI is a process and it can take months even years to see your hard work pay off.  Be patient, and continue to build on your foundation.

Sponsorships are incredibly important to both the sponsoring company and the benefiting organization.  Having realistic expectations, and verbalizing the wants and needs of the sponsorship and working together will create very successful partnerships.

Kim Barclay is a Chief Staff Executive at Partners In Association Management and is the FSAE 2019 Conference Sponsorship Chair.  Kim has over 20 years’ experience in Association Management, Event Planning and Fundraising. Reprinted with permission, FSAE Source Magazine January/February 2019 issue.

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