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Event Sponsorship Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy


I know that you want to grow your business this year.

So tell me this – what events are you sponsoring?

What if I told you that event sponsorship is one of the best ways to get out there, gain eyeballs and eventually build revenue? Sponsorship is a big part of your marketing plan if you want to be seen as a leader in your field or even if you just want to be seen.

Now you’re thinking that sponsoring is too expensive or that all of the opportunities have already been snapped up.

I once thought it was unattainable too until I did this.

Back in 2009 I started sponsoring an event called MAGNET – a national annual event for publishers across Canada.

It was the event that publishers seemed to be at and I wanted access to them.

So I called up the organizers, pitched us as the official communications partner for all of the marketing materials, strategy, and creative that they would need to put on this event. Everything I provided was pro bono for them and voila, we had a deal!

8 years later we are still the communications partner to this wonderful group and we’ve done over $250,000 worth of associated business in the last year alone because of it.

Add to that the business connections to new industries, a sense of giving back, and the friendships we’ve made, and it’s easily one of the smartest things I ever did.

Even though we were small, boutique, and a relative nobody, our offer to get involved was valued. And our sponsorship is an in-kind deal so we don’t spend any cash to be there.

The biggest bonus is that we are the only agency that ever shows up. WIN WIN!

There are a wide range of benefits when you sponsor the right event. The biggest benefit I think, is brand awareness. You gain tons of eyeballs on your company, product or service in a concentrated period of time. There are many other benefits as well.

The top 5 are listed here from the <rel=”nofollow”> BBB:

  1. Raise brand awareness
  2. Create emotional connection
  3. Media exposure
  4. Swag
  5. Marketing and list procurement

Here’s a great example of a brand that’s killing it by sponsoring the perfect fit event for them.

Grace Food Festival

The Grace Foods Jerk Festival in Toronto. I attended for the first time this summer. But it won’t be my last.

Grace is the lead sponsor of this annual festival that celebrates Caribbean culture and food – the audience they serve so this sponsorship makes perfect sense for them. The result is great alignment, good feelings surrounding their brand, and exposure to the market that they serve.

This maybe a bigger sponsorship buy-in then you’re prepared for right now. That’s ok, don’t get discouraged. There is always something you can be involved in. No matter your budget.

Here’s how to start:

Define your audience. Defining your audience is one of the most important things you can do. PERIOD. Not only will it help you to choose sponsorships opportunities, it ties to every marketing and sales activity you do. You have to know precisely who you are talking to. I like to create PERSONAS and give them names. For example, John Entrepreneur, is a 50 year old business owner, married, 2 kids, lives in Oakville and plays golf every Tuesday morning.

The more you can figure out about your different personas, the better you will be able to speak to them. Start by picking some actual customers and start building their profiles!

Find out where they hang out. Once you know who they are then you need to find out where they hang out, what they do, where they go, and what groups and associations they belong to. Ask them what they read, what conferences and events they attend. Just keep asking questions. As it turns out, John, belongs to Entrepreneurial Organization (EO), takes a ton of days off and believes in the value of team exercise challenges to keep his staff healthy and connected.

Find out the sponsorship opportunities. Once you know what events they are going to, then you can research the sponsorship options for each association, group, conference, or event. If there aren’t any, create your own event (we did that too – more on that next time). Remember, they need to sell sponsorships so most of the organizers will be happy to sit down with you and brainstorm how you can get involved.

Ok, you’re all set. You should have yourself a sweet little list of possible events. If you can’t sponsor an entire event, sponsor a session, or speak at it, or sponsor a lunch or a coffee break, or the water – whatever. Just do something. Your audience is going to notice. I promise.

I dare you to do one thing tomorrow to get an event sponsorship in your future. Just one thing….and go!

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