While large international or national events are often too expensive for small businesses, there are hundreds of smaller events that are equally, if not more, effective as marketing channels.
As a sponsor, you can use local events to create both breadth and depth of engagement.
Regardless of whether you trade nationally or regionally, here is why local event sponsorship should be on every small business’ marketing plan.
Amazing value for money
- You can spend a fraction of the cost of other forms of marketing.
- You can associate yourself with an event that closely targets your audience.
- Although the number of people attending the event, and the amount of media coverage, may be small, the return on investment can be very high.
- Organisers of smaller, local events tend to be much more responsive and flexible in accommodating your requests.
- Would you prefer a larger stand? A description on their website? A handout supplied to all attendees? Most local events will like the fact you want to do more, whereas national events are much stricter in what they will and won’t do.
You can still publicise your involvement nationally
- Just because it is a local event doesn’t mean you can’t promote your involvement nationally. Your blog, social media, press releases etc. should all be used to publicise your sponsorship to a national audience.
- To build interest, you can also run competitions to win tickets to the events, and pay for the winners’ travel and accommodation.
Be seen as a grassroots supporter
- If you sponsor a solid number of local events, you will position your company as a supporter of ‘real’ people and affordable events.
Meet people and network
- If your business is 100 per cent online, this is a great opportunity to get out there and meet people. You can get valuable feedback on your products and speak face-to-face with prospective customers.
- If you already have face-to-face time with your customers, here are some new prospects for you! Local events are also a great networking opportunity to meet new B2B suppliers, or to become one yourself.
As with many offline marketing channels, measuring the success of event sponsorship can be tricky, but it is not a complete black hole.
Here are some tips on how to gauge the success of your sponsorship investment:
- Take lead-generation forms if you attend the event, so you can get contact information to follow up interest.
- Add Google Analytics tracking if you have a link/logo on the event website.
- Use a unique telephone number on any marketing communications related to the event so you can track calls.
- Add a QR code for people to scan, which will take them to unique content and track the number of visits to the page.
- Monitor social media mentions of your involvement.
- Run a prize draw competition that people need to enter at the event.
- If you attend the event, you will also get a feel for how successful it has been based on your own experiences. Did a lot of people come and talk to you? Were they interested in what you had to say, and how long did they engage with you for?
Benefits of sponsorship
In short, some of the key benefits of sponsorship are:
- It differentiates a company from its competitors.
- It helps develop closer and better relationships with customers, both existing and potential.
- It is a fantastic way to showcase products and services.
- It is a powerful means of accessing a wide range of audiences, such as decision makers in business, government entities, and of course customers.
- It will provide opportunities to gauge customer response to products immediately. Events allow business owners or executives to relate directly with their customers, while they give customers the opportunity to try out the products first-hand.
- It will heighten visibility due to positive publicity through the media – especially at events that attract large numbers of people.
The most important thing to remember with any sponsorship is that your return on investment won’t always translate directly into dollars. It is a long-term relationship and, as such, many of the benefits will come in the long term.
Tiz Porreca is the founder of AJUNJO, an events marketing company.