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10 Best Event Sponsoring Practices for Small Businesses

Although most experts agree that sponsoring events can be highly beneficial, benefits are derived only if common mistakes are avoided. Sponsoring an event that has little to do with the product or service of the sponsor, or for which no clear connection to the brand is bad practice. Follow these best practices to insure you make the most out of your investment:

  1. Make certain that the target audience for the event is in line with the market you’re after. Valvoline Oil, for example, sponsoring a Nascar Car Racing show is a win-win situation; by the same token, a chain of retirement communities sponsoring the same event will seem out of place. “In our industry, word-of-mouth and brand-reputation are huge when it comes to maintaining long-term, repeat customers and acquiring new business,” says Kenny Vayda, President and CEO of Eliminate’Em Pest Control Services. 
  2. Know very well who’s running the event and whether they know what they’re doing. If the event is poorly executed or too many things go wrong (especially because of mismanagement or lack of experience running such events), attendees will associate the bad feelings they will take away with the sponsor(s) brand.
  3. Spell out clearly (preferably in writing) what you will get from your investment. For example, will you get exclusive rights (in terms of competitors within your industry). Will you have any say if you see something that is out-of-whack or which can easily be improved (even on the day of the event)?
  4. Is there a meaningful brand/event connection? The connection doesn’t necessarily have to be glaringly obvious but, if it takes more than a couple of sentences and 2 or 3 minutes to explain the connection, then the audience will probably miss it.
  5. Work to establish and ostensibly illustrate some kind of positive community effect/impact. Will local restaurants, gas stations, hotels, etc., see significant increases in business because of the event? This is an unbeatable selling point when starting the event and a pat-on-the-back opportunity if seeking continued to support from the community.
  6. Capitalize on the free publicity from the local and national press. Press releases, social media announcements, etc.—a full-press court is called for since events make great news.
  7. Plan to participate, not just “sponsor.” Set up booths; have staff pass out literature/souvenirs; give away prizes; let yourself (and staff), not just your products/brand be seen. This is more personalized than simply stamping a logo on cars, walls or banners. “Participating in the event will also give you an opportunity to provide great customer service and turn any less-than-perfect opinions into potential customers,” says Oklahoma City plastic surgeon Dr. Tim Love
  8. Hire professionals to maximize your event marketing and sponsorship goals/objectives. Experts can see to it that:
  • All legal requirements are properly addressed/covered.
  • Everything is clearly and comprehensibly documented.
  • The right type of event is matched to your specific products/services.
  • The repercussions from any mishaps/mistakes are minimized or at least properly managed.
  • An event sponsorship/marketing opportunity is found/created that falls within your budget.
  • Your products/services are differentiate/distinguished from the competition.
  • You develop a closer connection with customers/clients (e.g., supporting a cause/problem they spouse).
  • You can introduce new products/services.
  • Facts-and-figures to support this type of investment are provided.
  • You see an increase in sales or improvement in product/services visibility.
  • Your organization’s prestige, image and credibility are enhanced.
  1. Partner with bigger organizations (perhaps with bigger budgets) in order to maximize market outreach potential or to be able to sponsor a bigger event.
  1. Educate yourself on the ins and outs of event marketing and sponsorship; the more you know, the more you can help develop a suitable market-expanding/ROI-improvement campaign.

Event sponsorships are a great way to improve your company’s presence/visibility within a community or industry. If done correctly, they can help increase sales, enhance a brand, and provide better bridges with customers.

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