Local Sports Sponsorship 101

Local Sports Sponsorship 101

If you’re a small business, chances are your marketing dollars are minimal so how do you make the best out of a small budget?
Much depends on your type of business; whether you are B2B or B2C, and whether your market is local, provincial, national, or global. In this article we discuss a marketing strategy for those of you who rely on local customers, predominately consumers rather than businesses.

It is one of the primary ways communities come together

Every town and city in Canada has multiple local sports teams; soccer, football, rugby, softball, fastball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse – the list goes on. Almost every child, and a large percentage of teenagers in your town are likely to be involved in some sport or other. Adults too play in leisure leagues. Drive through any town in Canada during a weekend and you’ll see parents cheering on their children at league games and tournaments. It is one of the primary ways communities come together – sports teams are at the very heart of your town.
You don’t have to be IBM or Pepsi to be a sports’ sponsor. Your local teams are always in need of funding to purchase equipment, to travel to tournaments, pay for ice time, or to cover a host of other expenses. Most will welcome financial support from local businesses and provide exposure in return. Fund a team’s uniform and perhaps you can have your business name on the back, or have an advertisement in the program.
Think about local sports sponsorship as an investment in your business and in your community. When parents, family and friends gather to watch children compete in any sports event you will see a ‘community’ all there to support the same thing – there is a sense of belonging. The one thing they all have in common is passion – they are invested in the sport and the well-being of their children, family and friends.

 Your brand will start to belong

If you are seen to be supporting this community within a community, your brand will start to ‘belong’ and you will build trust and goodwill. Even though you receive a promotional benefit, your company will be seen as giving back. And, don’t dismiss the feel-good factor; for a relatively small amount of money, you can make a significant impact on a sports team that may be struggling to buy the equipment they need, or travel to faraway tournaments. Remember, a thriving community is good for your business and every aspect of your life in that community.

Before you jump right into sponsoring a local team, event, or tournament consider the relevance of what you sell to the people who will see your company name. Obviously if you own a liquor store, sponsoring a children’s sports team might not be acceptable. But, there could be a senior, or old boys, hockey league or rugby team that might be appropriate.

A few things to consider when supporting a local team, event, or tournament:

* Engage with your audience in someway – find a way to interact with the people in attendance.

*Attend games.

* Become involved as a volunteer and network with parents and sports fans.* Use your sponsorship to educate your market.

* Be creative in how you receive exposure (e.g. ads or coupons in programs; prizes; names on jerseys; sponsorship announcements before the game; product samples at a booth; banner ads, etc.)
* Send out press releases to the local press and media. Tell your corporate story.
* Support your team in other advertising, or at your business location, and on your website.
* Check whether the team you choose is registered as a not-for-profit. Depending on the circumstances you may actually be able to use your sponsorship as a tax write-off.
Before sponsoring anything, define your expectations. How much impact do you expect it to make on your business in terms of customer traffic, unit sales, and increase in revenue? Once you know this, you can monitor the return on your marketing investment.
Sponsoring a local sports team, or event, can be a tremendously cost-effective way of promoting your company to the local community and to visiting fans. It also demonstrates your company’s commitment to the community and encourages people to shop local. It’s truly a win-win for all concerned.

This article is provided by Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen. Questions about your business? Contact their office at 250-493-2566.

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