Sponsorships: To Show or Not To Show – that is the question.

SponsorshipsSponsorships are a great way to grow your business but you have to be ready. And you have to analyze the opportunity in the right light to determine if any given sponsorship is worth your business marketing dollars. Every piece of marketing that you do should have a strategic purpose and plan to maximize return on that investment. Sponsorships are no exception.

Here are 7 business marketing tips to help you get the most out of your sponsorships.

  1. Local Sponsorships – According to Jeff Slutsky, author of No B.S. Grassroots Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Take No Prisoners¬† Guide To Growing Sales And Profits of Local Small Businesses [Man that title is incredibly long but a great book], “Most sponsorship money is a total waste.” Here is why Jeff makes that statement. At the local level, many sponsorships are done for some worthy local cause like Little League or a Walk-a-thon. These opportunities may more appropriately belong in your charity budget, not your marketing budget. Unless this type of opportunity directly targets your ideal market, it’s not worth it.
  2. Promotional Products – These are the “junkareel” as my father-in-law calls them, that you get bombarded with everywhere. They should always be (though sometimes aren’t which is a mistake) imprinted with the business or brand name that is giving them away. These items truly are junk unless they are tied to sponsorships in some way that makes the recipient remember your business. Don’t give me a flashlight if you sell flowers. Give me a packet of sunflower seeds, watering can (suitably imprinted with your company name)¬† and directions on how to plant and grow them this summer. Then run a contest in August on your social media where customers post photos of their sunflowers and pick a winner for some prize. Be creative – get it? Make them remember you and push them back online to interact.
  3. Business Trade Shows – These range from small events at the local mall or grocery store to county or regional events up to the larger national and annual events. Price tags rise with the size. The first thing you have to consider is the target market. Will your ideal customers be attending? At the local level, if your customers will be at the show, you may want to consider participating even if your business doesn’t fit the show. It’s okay for the flower shop to have a table at the Chocolate Expo if their ideal market will be there. It’s about exposure to the market.
  4. National Trade Shows – This can get expensive, especially if they are in big convention centers where you have the extra costs of union workers and their rules. You may need an electrician to bring power to your booth, movers to take your stuff from the loading dock to the booth location and more. Don’t forget the booth itself. The bigger the show, the more important your booth’s look and feel in order to stand out. Do a detailed budget and make sure to research all the extra costs associated with the location and don’t forget staffing costs. It might be an opportunity that could launch your business to the next level, but you must budget and plan.
  5. Speaking Engagements – Speaking at an event is a great opportunity to get in front of your target market and other thought leaders. At the small shows, you can volunteer and probably speak for free. The larger national shows may offer the opportunity to speak for a fee. This is an expense that is worth it if you have planned carefully how to leverage the interest your business will receive as a result.
  6. Breakout Sessions– If speaking isn’t your thing, you may want to consider sponsoring someone else to speak. But you must make sure that the speaker is interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention and offers relevant information that your target market will appreciate. This is an opportunity to be helpful and relevant to your clients, not to put them to sleep.
  7. Follow Up – Here is where the whole idea of sponsorships breaks down. It’s in the follow up. You have spent all the time and money making sure your promotional products are right, your ideal market will be out in force, you or your surrogate speaker are engaging and relevant, everyone remembers you and your business and life couldn’t be better. Right? Not if you aren’t ready to follow up afterwards. The entire follow up system has to be reasoned out and in place before you ever agree to a sponsorship opportunity. Follow up is where the magic truly happens and where you get your return on investment.

My local business is making the leap to national sponsorships in April 2013 and we are excited about it.

ikalynn.com will have a booth at the annual Be The Change event in Orlando which brings around 1000 of my ideal clients, entrepreneurs and business owners over the age of 40,¬† together to learn about starting or growing a business. These are my people and I’m excited by the possibilities of sponsorships in my business.