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Business accelerators: Sponsoring a community event

July 25, 2017

Sponsoring events is a unique way to get exposure for your business and foster goodwill within your community. At events you can partner with other nearby businesses to reach new audiences. You could sponsor existing events, or create your own. But before you jump in, make sure sponsoring an event fits in with your goals.

Go to the Right Event

Here are a few questions to determine whether an event is worth sponsoring:

  • Will my target market be at this event? People who attend an event are, in many ways, a captive audience, and treats from sponsors can be a great way to make a positive impression. Sponsorships work best when the people in attendance are the primary audience you’re trying to attract. Are they the right demographic? Do they have the discretionary funds to purchase your product? Will sponsoring this event gain their goodwill? The answers to these questions will help you determine whether this is a good investment.
  • Will my business get noticed if I sponsor it? Carefully consider what the sponsorship entails, what you get for the money, and whether that will mean anything to your target market. If the sponsorship gets your logo on a giveaway, is it something that attendees are likely to keep, or just throw away after consuming? Will there be a lot of competition for their attention, or are you one of only a few sponsors? Sometimes it’s better to buy the biggest sponsorship at a small event than to try to compete with much larger brands at a huge event.
  • Does it fit in with my brand? NASCAR is extremely popular, but if you’re selling bicycles it’s probably not the right event for you. If your business sells sustainable, locally-farmed, organic foods, an event supporting local farms is a good fit. The same business supporting a competitive food contest such as the Nathan’s hot dog contest would be an odd choice. Similarly, does the event promote social causes and charities your business supports? Or does sponsoring it send a mixed message to customers?
  • Do I have a clear goal to define success at this event? Any marketing promotion you do should have very clear goals. Strive to achieve more than just getting mentioned in announcements or ads in written programs. Perhaps you can host trying new flavors of a tasty treat where people review the new flavors on Yelp! Or consider handing out coupons at the event that expire within 3 weeks and see how many get used. Just make sure you have a goal that can be measured.

Once you determine which event is right for you, it’s time to consider what kind of sponsorship you’re interested in.

Make the Offer Count

There are many ways to get involved at an event. Here are just a few ideas to get started.

  • Offer free product samples. Whether it’s catering a town hall meeting, or providing a post-10K race snack, food almost always works as a giveaway at events. But there are other ways to give a free product or service. If you’re a spa, you could offer a free 5 minute shoulder rub, or a quick nail polish refresh. Hair salons can offer a free blow out or updo to the first 50 customers. A martial arts dojo can offer a free 20-minute introduction to self-defense. Be creative.
  • Offer your space. Event coordinators will push for donations and monetary contributions, but that’s not the only way to support groups of people. There are many worthy causes that need meeting space. If you have the room, consider opening special hours to give them the opportunity to use the space or offer free services during normal hours to your target audience. Looking to help out veterans? Consider free haircuts to servicemen and women on Sunday mornings. Want to support cancer survivors? Host a support group in your place of business after hours to help them meet in a relaxing, non-medical environment.
  • Offer your time. There’s no better way to get involved in the community than to offer your time. Try volunteering as a group to a local food bank, shelter, or other community resource to build team spirit in your organization. Perka, the creator of Clover Rewards, has a Perka Cares initiative. Last year on September 13, the Day of Service, they partnered with Gyft and Clover to send a team of volunteers to a Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose. More than 30 team members volunteered to help out. As Alexander Wilmerding, VP of Support & Operations, at Perka said, “Perka’s continued involvement in our community strengthens our brand and what we value as a company.” Give back as a team—you’ll grow stronger.

Get the Most Out of the Experience

Now that you’ve decided where you want to participate and what you’ll offer, here are some quick tips to get the most out of your sponsorship:

  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most sponsorship packages are flexible, and event coordinators are often willing to negotiate details to give you more for your money.
  • Bring your colleagues and invite your best customers. Donating food or drinks is nice, but being there in person to engage with the people at the event has far more impact, especially if there is a group of you.
  • Give a memorable, meaningful experience. You’re there to get exposure for your business, so give some thought to what would leave a positive impression. Personalize the giveaways or coupons to tie them thematically to the event.
  • Wear branded outfits. Make sure you and your crew wear the uniform or something with your logo, so everywhere you walk within the event you are marketing your business.
  • Play it up on social media. Don’t forget to plug your appearance in your social media channels and to post images of your team at the event. If it’s a charitable event, ask if you can post photos or videos of the recipients to post online.
  • Bring coupons. If your goal is to bring in new customers, this is the perfect opportunity to entice them to come to your store. Make the offer something unique to the event, and encourage the coupon holder to bring a second person: “Bring a friend—offer is good for two.”
  • Give away swag. If you have marketing swag, or tchotchkes featuring your logo, bring it with you to give away.

When you’re at the event, don’t forget to market to other sponsors. People working the sponsor booths are potential customers as well. Plus they might be interested in partnering with you to co-market your businesses going forward.

Want more ideas to market your business? Check out the Clover App Market.

[image: Events by Darren Johnson/IDJ Photography on flickr]

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