What is Sponsorship Marketing?

Sponsorship marketing is typically done for promotional purposes, to generate publicity, or to obtain access to a wider audience than your budget can afford.  Although you may think of corporate sponsorship’s as in-kind donations, that’s not longer the case.  It‘s a booming $11 billion dollar industry according to IEG’s 2004 industry report.

Sponsorship marketing is done financially or through the provision of products or services to support an event, activity, person, or organization where two or more parties benefit from the arrangement.  The key to building successful sponsorship programs is to match the correct products or services with the people who want to purchase them.

Benefits of Building a Sponsorship Marketing Program

  • Low cost way to create visibility and traffic for an organization.
  • Increased marketing dollars to stretch limited budgets.
  • Inexpensive way to increase sales.
  • Increased loyalty through consistent brand building.
  • Increased pr/media exposure.
  • Exciting employees and incenting sales representatives.

How it Works

What attracts a sponsor is “eye balls”.  The more people or targeted impressions you can deliver to a sponsor, the more money or services you will be able to attract.  It’s that simple.

Any organization can start a marketing sponsorship program.  Of course the success of it depends on: what your organization does, who your customers are, and how you structure the exposure for the sponsor.

Organizations Most Attractive to Sponsors

Still not sure if it’s worth devoting time or money to building a sponsorship program?  Then, check out the top five industries, according to IEG, that companies with sponsorship dollars are looking to spend them with:

  • Sporting events or venues
  • Travel or Entertainment Organizations
  • Educational or Non-Profit organizations
  • Art Related Organizations
  • Web based businesses or organizations with highly visited websites

Getting Started-Seven Steps to Building a Sponsor Program

1. Define your product / service

Be as specific as possible about what your organization has to offer. While your organization’s activities are the main product, other products or services can also be considered as offerings to sponsors including: sales materials, uniforms, preferential booking of facilities or discount rates.

2. Define the Target Market

A sponsorship marketing strategy will only by successful if it is aimed at the appropriate group of people. You can quickly identify your target market by looking at your current customers and considering common factors that they share.

– Demographics age, sex, marital status, occupation, ethnic groups, religion, education, etc

– Psychographics behavioral groups such as skiers, skateboarders, families

– Geographic location (local, regional, national)

3. Set Your Objectives

A clear, documented idea of what it is your organization is trying to achieve is needed.

Do you want to have your brochure costs covered by a sponsor, increase your advertising buys, or maybe have the cost of your next special event covered?

4. Develop a Marketing Strategy

When your objectives are clear, the next step is to develop a marketing strategy to help achieve those objectives.

If you want to have your next brochure costs covered you strategy may revolve around selling advertising in it.  If, on the other hand, you want to cover the cost of your next special event, you need to use different strategies such as emphasizing how the sponsor will be represented at your organization, in promotional materials, and advertising.  Remember, the more people you can deliver to a sponsor, the more valuable they will find your program.  Use whatever means it takes to do that: newsletters, signs, radio or TV spots, press releases, website, etc.

5. Develop an Action Plan

Once you know what you want to do, it’s time to actually do it!  The key to a good action plan is to outline the activities to be achieved—assign people to get the tasks done and make sure to set a realistic deadline.  Don’t forget to set up a reporting process so you know what’s done and what might need extra attention.

6. Build your Sponsor Packet

The Sponsor Packet is what you will use to communicate your sponsor program to prospects.  In its most basic format, a Sponsor Packet would include:

a)     Description of who you are and what you do

b)    Description of the target market you can deliver to sponsors

  1. I.    E.g. 25 – 35 year old family heads of households

c)     Summary of your marketing objectives

  1. I.    E.g. To expand marketing exposure

d)    Marketing strategies

  1. I.    E.g. Online and offline Sweepstakes

e)     e). Action plan

  1. I.    E.g. Develop online and offline entry forms and promotional flyers to be distributed by sponsor.  Promote will begin 4 weeks ahead of the giveaway through radio ads, press releases, and local search engine marketing.

7. Package it.

You’ll be asking a lot from your sponsors so make sure your presentation represents you well.  Be accurate and concise with your content.  If possible try to have it professionally printed and include photographs to enhance presentation. The use of special paper and covers can also enhance the presentation.

Put It To Work

After you’ve completed your sponsor packet, it’s time to put it to work.

1. Company’s.  Determine the company’s best suited as a sponsor to your organization.  Create a contact list that includes as much information as possible.

2. People. Find out who you should address the sponsorship proposal to (usually the Marketing Manager and include their proper title and position. Ensure you have the correct spelling.

3. Contact.  Speak briefly with them on the phone to let them know you will be sending a proposal.

4. Timing.  Present your sponsor packet proposal well in advance. Businesses budget for sponsorship annually. They can also take a while to approve sponsorship proposals, particularly if they have to be cleared by the General Manager or Board of Directors.

5. Follow up. Allow a week after you have sent a proposal before making a follow up call. The

sponsor may not be able to answer at that stage. However, it provides an opportunity for them to ask any questions. Offer to come into their office to speak to them if they so desire. Ask them when you could expect to receive an answer.

6. Reporting. Once a sponsorship has been negotiated and secured, ensure you keep in regular contact with your sponsor. A letter or phone call once a month letting them know about your organization and how the sponsorship is going is good practice. Send any material that may be of interest to them – newsletters, any promotional material or photographs involving promotion of the sponsor.

To see some sponsorship templates, visit myMarketingGuide.com

One-Minute Marketing Makeover

There can be big gains from small tweaks to your marketing plan.  There are two types of marketing plan audits.  The first is the comprehensive which should occur at least one a year and then there are the “mini” audits which should happen at minimum every quarter.


The “mini” marketing audit is stripped down to the bare essentials and the goal is to create a task list which can be done quickly and easily and yield results right away.

Mini Marketing Audit Questions

1. What initiatives and key messages generated the greatest number of leads, media placements, or sales in the last 2 years?

2. Which marketing channel (website, email, text message, pay-per-click, radio, TV) netted the most revenue for the lowest investment?

3. Who is your target audience (describe them) and has that changed due to economic conditions, pricing considerations, or new product and/or service offerings?

4. Who are your most valuable customers?  How and where do they purchase your product or service offering?

5. What are your competitor’s offerings and are you tasked with increasing market share, stakeholder satisfaction, $ revenue, or all of the above?

6. What are your organization’s short-term and long-term strategic goals?

7. What in-house vs. outsourced resources do you have available?

8. Are you on-target with your marketing budget, over budget, or under budget?  Why?  Do adjustments need to be made?

9. Are there any upcoming deadlines, events, or projects that might require you to alter your marketing plans in the next 3-4 months?

10. Have you taken advantage of trying out new marketing methods (internet advertising, media relations, email newsletters, mobile marketing, website marketing) to gauge their effectiveness?  What percentage of your marketing budget could you set aside to explore new options (usually about 5-10% of a budget)?

Sample Task List

Mini Marketing Audit Answers and Task List

Best Campaigns to do again: Summer 2008, Winter 2009

Best marketing message: Go BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) for the highest redemption rate and increased sales.

Best ROI marketing channels: website, email newsletters, text message campaigns, media relations/press releases & media kit, co-op advertising program, custom loyalty program.

Least ROI channels/not able to track effectiveness: radio, TV, outdoor billboards

Target audience: 25-45 households with kids (families) within a 2 hour radius of our location.  Current economic conditions indicate that this audience may be watching their dollars closer and spending less.  To keep sales up, we should look to expanding our demographic to include the baby boomer age group and expand to web sales

Most valuable customers: local customers looking to support us.  Need to keep them happy and coming back more.

Competitors: offer similar offerings.  We try to differentiate by talking about our expanded service and support, monthly payment plans, and testimonials.

Marketing goals: increase revenue by 5% in the next quarter.

Organization short term goal: reduce overhead by 5%

Organization long term goal: increase profitability by 5%.

In-house vs. outsourced: loss of one staff member means we will need to outsource more marketing functions in the next 1-2 months while we look for another staff member.  Will need to find one or multiple companies to assist us in everyday marketing tasks including: graphic design, ad placement, email newsletter copywriting, design, and sending, press release copyrighting, etc.

Marketing budget: we are under budget because we were not able to complete one of the campaigns from last quarter due to technology set-up issues.  Will try to complete that project this quarter or reallocate the funds to a different campaign.

Upcoming events: within 2 months we will launch a new product that should appeal to a younger more web savvy consumer.  We may need to shuffle some of the budget and timelines to get this launched.

New marketing channel test: would like to start an internet advertising campaign on Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  Need to find a company to help us implement this.  Tie this to the new product launch.  Will try 2-3 months with a budget of $5,000.