The Sponsorship Dilema

sponsorshipThere are three levels of sponsorship, or three tiers. Tier 1 is local like a chamber of commerce, networking, philanthropy event, but local. It’s right in your own backyard. Tier 2 is national like Be The Change Event I sponsored in Orlando. It’s a broader exposure. And finally, is Tier 3 which is International and can be much more corporate. They can also be big, really big events. Which makes sense, their International.

Let’s assume that sponsoring is new to you or that you’ve worked your way to a certain level, you’re already at Tier 1 or maybe even Tier 2.

If you’ve never sponsored before, take the five criteria George Torok shared [which I’ve included below] and research some local, in your own backyard events that may be right for your business to sponsor. You can make choices this way: pick a cause – a charity, social issue or community group if that’s a direction that makes sense for your business based on its mission and your vision for the business. We want to be congruent here. Not looking for a cause just for the sake of sponsoring a cause.

You could choose an event – a fundraiser, community event or larger gala. Then use the five criteria to see if sponsorship makes sense. Finally, you could choose a group – a business association, a team or a social group. Put the 5 criteria to work and see what makes sense.

If you’ve already been doing well with Tier 1 sponsorships, put this same strategy to use on Tier 2 opportunities. National events may still be in your own backyard, especially if you are near a major urban area like me. I’m right outside of New York City so I have access to all three Tiers in my backyard. This could prove important when it comes to budgeting costs. Sponsorships always have costs, but when you can reduce the budget for travel expenses for you and your staff, that always helps improve the ROI. Right?

Here are 5 criteria I got online from George Torok, author of Secrets of Power Marketing, that he suggests using to test a sponsorship opportunity. In fact, he suggests that a negative rating in any one of these five criteria is enough to say no to the sponsorship.

1.  Relative Cost to Exposure:

Are you getting more exposure or better-targeted exposure from the sponsorship compared to other marketing avenues available to you? And related to that, is how well can you leverage the sponsorship? Will you get a list of names? Can you market to them before or after the event?

2. Audience targeted to your best prospects

You need to be able to define your ideal clients and decide if the event will bring those prospects in. This seems obvious but it’s not always considered. The best prospects for my marketing consulting firm are baby boomer business owners of small to just mid-size companies. So, I would rather sponsor an event that reaches 100 business owners versus 1,000 hobbyists or 10,000 students. Be clear on whom your sponsorship message will reach.

3. Your relative exposure among the sponsors

How many sponsors are there? How well will you stand out and be noticed among the other sponsors? Being one sponsor among three is much better then being one among 20 sponsors. Don’t get lost in the mob.

4. Do the other sponsors lift your profile?

Will you be in the company of other sponsors who make you look good? If you are a small business you might want to be seen in the company of large well-known corporations that elevate your influence. You might choose to be associated with fellow sponsors Apple, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Pepsi over Unknown Service Providers, Everyday Franchises and Local Appliance Stores.

Even the cause you sponsor can help or hurt your image. We are judged by the company we keep. Whose company are you keeping and how does it affect the image of your business?

5. Do you support the cause?

If you don’t believe in the event program, group or their battle cry – then stay away from it. If you fake your support you will be uncovered and it will haunt you and hurt you.

Sponsorship can be an important element in your marketing activities. Sponsorship can provide you with a profitable return if you have clear expectations of the results and your motivation. Use the five criteria to help you make smarter choices in your sponsorship marketing.