Spring, unlike any other season, brings on a whole slew of marketing opportunities because that’s when summer leagues and fall sports programs solicit sponsors. We have a steady flow of requests from March through June: Everything from youth softball to county fair events to football programs for the local high school seasons five months away.Much of advertising and promotion requires a ‘buy-in’ from the audience. What that means is the reader has to open the letter, or turn on the TV. When you market yourself and your logo (see the archives) via a sponsorship, you are reaching an audience that’s both captive and involuntary at the same time. For example, when someone opens a direct mail piece from your business, they know they’re getting a marketing piece from you. However, when they show up for a sports event, your logo on the uniform or in the program isn’t what they set out to see. Nor can they turn off the ad because they’d have to walk away from the event or game. Every onlooker gets to see your brand.
Sponsorship isn’t an instant payoff. There’s a thesaurus full of ten-cent words to explain the subliminal effects of advertising in this fashion. To put it concisely: Your logo is a message-less message that aids unaided recall. People might not need your service that day at the football game. Because they’ve seen your brand, however, they’re likely to consider you when they do need your service or product.
Here are four more ways sponsorship pays off:
1) Your brand becomes part of the environment. On-field advertising sticks around all season.
2) Your brand lives on for years after. Photos taken at a game or event have your logo in them permanently. If you’re sponsoring a team’s jersey, those things are like luggage: People keep them forever. Bonus: Your logo could show up in the paper or newscast or social media accounts of the event.
3) Your brand is associated with good fun or winning. Even if the team you sponsor is a perennial stinker, people still have fun attending or they wouldn’t attend.
4) Your brand also becomes associated with good will in the community.
My business sponsors a local waterski team via their show program. Little spend, lots of eyes. We sponsored a pre-teen girls softball team, shown above, with our name on jerseys worn in two consecutive championships. An ad here. A logo there. Minimal investment adds up to exposure to new customers. The one thing I’ve stayed back from (so far) is race cars: Nobody wants to see their logo hit a wall at 100+ mph.Photo by Scott Stevens, used with permission.