Sponsorship provides a great means of broadening your competitive edge. You can improve your company’s image, prestige and credibility by supporting events that your target market finds attractive. In recent years, corporate sponsorship has become the fastest growing type of marketing in the United States.
Part of this growth can be attributed to the increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses that are getting involved. Sponsoring events, in particular, can be especially effective as a marketing tool because it can be a means of accessing a wide range of audiences such as decision makers in business, government entities and, of course, customers. In addition, it can be particularly beneficial for companies that do not take advantage of other marketing opportunities. Why? Because sponsorship offers a way to reach a wide array of industry personnel to whom you
can promote or show your products and services.
A growing number of marketers think that corporate sponsorship is better than other marketing methods because sponsorship provides opportunities for a business owner to gauge existing or potential customers’ immediate responses to products and services. At a sponsored event, business owners or executives can relate directly with their customers, and they can give their customers the opportunity to try out products firsthand. In comparison, marketing research methods such as focus groups are usually costly and may not focus on the right kind of people, and market surveys or questionnaires usually do not give prospective customers the opportunity to try out products.
Given the propensity of consumers to associate sponsors with the event they promote, it is important for companies to select events that are appropriately aligned with their product or corporate image. Therefore, before signing up to be a sponsor, be sure you know how people perceive the show or event.
In addition, the organizers should provide you with details such as the target audience that is expected and what obligations you will have as a sponsor. It is also important to find out the kind of support that the event organizers will provide, and exactly what your sponsorship money is buying.
Basically, I’m saying that you should not simply “show up” at a conference at which you are exhibiting. You’re spending big bucks to be there, so be seen and be seen in more places than only the booth space you’ve selected.
Here are some helpful rationales and tips for getting more notice than just “showing up.”
- Having a presence at a conference or business event positions you and your business as an authority in your industry. You gain respect and credibility by standing out from the pack of attendees and prominently displaying your products and marketing materials. Instead of just attending an event and looking for people with whom to share your business card, by being a sponsor of the event, you can talk directly with attendees who will be eager to find out about your business.
- Get in front of your target market. The event organizers spend time and money marketing the event to your target audience so they can bring these attendees “into the room.” Your job is to come prepared to take full advantage of this opportunity by making sure you have created eye-catching, professional signs, marketing materials and product displays that will draw attendees to you.
- Be sure to have some sort of lead-generation system in place on the day of the event. For example, people can provide their business cards or email addresses in exchange for a chance to win a great prize in a drawing, samples or even candy or other promotional giveaways.
Being featured in the event’s program book or on the event’s website is a great way to have your logo featured on print materials and perhaps even on an item provided in the event’s gift bags. The results of this brand recognition can help you leverage your sponsorship.
Not only are the attendees of the event potential new clients and customers, so are your fellow sponsors and vendors! You can form new business partnerships at events by meeting like-minded business professionals in complementary businesses with which you share the same target market, but are not in competition.
Give attendees a “taste” of your business by bringing samples to an event. Offering giveaways is a terrific way to capture attention from attendees. Be creative and think of out-of-the-box ways to stand out. By sharing a sample or trial offer of your product, you engage attendees and increase your chances of turning them into new customers.
We all know how much advertising your business can cost. For example, it can run $1,000 or more to place an ad in a well-known local publication for only one time! Spend- ing that same amount or less as a sponsor or vendor at an event is a much wiser investment that can bring a greater return on investment. Remember, you will be in the same room with hundreds of attendees who are your target market. By leveraging the event to your advantage, there will be no limit on your potential ROI.