June 15, 2017

How to turn company sponsorships into marketing opportunities

For many professional service organizations, especially law firms and financial institutions, community and charitable sponsorships feel like a required part of the job. No doubt a significant portion of your marketing budget is dedicated to giving to the community, and no doubt you often wonder if it’s even worth it.

Believe it or not, sponsorships can be an effective marketing tool if leveraged properly. Plus, they are a great way to show your firm’s commitment to your community and the causes your company is passionate about. To get the most out of these (sometimes expensive) opportunities, we’ve put together five steps you can take to turn your next community sponsorship into a brand-building, awareness-enhancing marketing tool.

Focus funds on events and opportunities that align with your brand values

Don’t simply sign up for a sponsorship because you were asked, but because the event aligns with your brand’s values and will enhance your reputation. An event that represents a cause you support or is popular among your targeted demographic can elevate your brand’s presence, making your services top-of-mind for potential clients when they find they are in need of your service. Consider your ideal clients and where they might go, because events they may attend is where you should be investing your money.

As an aside, we know that saying no to sponsorship requests is often difficult when there is an important professional relationship involved. Each decision will be a personal one, but remember, it’s okay to be judicious with your budget and say no if a request comes in that doesn’t align with your brand. Explore other ways of supporting the event, other than cash.

Company representation through attendance

Try to have at least one representative attend the event. If possible, get a team involved! This can encourage converstaions and on-the-spot inquiries as to your services, resulting in a potential lead gaining more info than if you only had a banner or display at the event. Representation and participation in these events shows that your dedication goes deep, and if multiple people are in attendance, shows true interest and care. If you are sponsoring a race, form a team of runners with company t-shirts. If you are sponsoring a rink for a local hockey team with a banner display, attend games or volunteer time to help.  In-person interactions are a great way to create new connections, improving the chances that your involvement will be meaningful to your business.

Increase visibility

Each event and sponsorship varies in terms of options for visibility and engagement. Some sponsorships include banner displays, others offer tabling opportunities, while some may include your logo in event posters or advertisements. Whatever a sponsorship offers, find ways to make your involvement stand out with strategic and impactful design.

When speaking with the sales representative for the event, don’t be afraid to discuss specialized opportunities that you may be able to include. For example, if you’re a sponsor for a soccer team, maybe you can provide free water bottles to the team with your company’s logo, or a pizza party if they win the championship. Or perhaps you can see if there’s a way to hold a half-time sponsorship event, or create a special award in your company’s name for a banquet event.

If you are setting up a table, be sure to give people a reason to stop by beyond just saying hello. Some ideas for this would be to conduct a raffle, giveaway, or a special offer on a service you provide. If you are handing out cards or brochures, include a special call to action that gives visitors a reason to go to your website when they are back at home or work, perhaps to redeem an offer or to watch an informative video.

Publicize your participation

Promote your company’s efforts and involvement! Whether it’s posting photos to Facebook, sharing the event page with your audience or publicizing the event in your building, let your customers and employees know that you will be there. During the event, use social media to let people know where you are located or share photos while the event is taking place. You can also publicize photographs and announcements on social media, in a newsletter, or in your office after the event has taken place. If you have a team that participated, post a photograph and encourage your team to share the photo on their own social accounts, which can be a great boost for visibility.

Again, this can take extra time and effort, and it can be hard to even remember to take these steps, but you’ll be rewarded by increased engagement!

Give people something to take away with them

On the day of the event, have a stash of freebies for participants to take home with them. Something as small as a pen with your company’s information could help increase impressions and visibility. Take-aways can also encourage consumers to learn more about your company. If your freebies are clever or memorable, they may cause consumers to share the items on social media or with friends, making the investment well worth it.

Making the most of your sponsorship is one step towards increasing your brand awareness among your community and clients. Going above and beyond will set you apart from your competition and make a lasting impression on potential clients.

If you’re looking to learn more about helping your brand stand out, download your free copy of our latest e-book, “Building a Professional Service Brand that Stands Out”, with helpful tips and strategies for standing out among competitors with similar offerings.