How to Use Event Sponsorship to Grow Business

small business event sponsorship

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Sponsorship is a common way for organizations to fund events like competitions, fairs, conferences, etc. The organization benefits from having a small business like yours help foot the costs of the event in exchange for advertising and other perks. As you get started, keep these key factors in mind when choosing the right event sponsorship for your brand.

Keep Definite Goals

Before your business starts to dabble in event sponsorship, you must first define what you want to get from your efforts.

Keep in mind that event sponsorship doesn’t necessarily have a one-to-one conversion rate.

Like most marketing efforts, you may not see direct conversions. It’s important to be completely realistic in your goals. Outlandish goals won’t do you any good in the long run. You’ll just fail to meet them, which can be demoralizing and create further setbacks.

One smart goal for event sponsorship is brand visibility. Sponsorships can be better advertisements than a straight-up ad. If an event sponsorship is focused on local issues or giving back to the community, you can use it to position your brand as a good community partner. Individual engagement is also very likely, depending on the terms of the sponsorship. Direct engagement can be far more valuable than the shotgun blast approach of less precise forms of marketing. If you leave the event with leads, you’re heading in the right direction.

Connect with Compatible Partners

Choosing the right organization is the most important part of putting together an event sponsorship opportunity. Before you write that check for an event sponsorship, be sure to do your research on the organization. Your brand‘s target audience and theirs must align. A business whose target consumer is a senior citizen would be smart to partner with an event put on by AARP or a similar organization. Or a streetwear accessory brand might pair well with a skateboard competition.

If there is a particular cause associated with the event, it’s also important that your brand ties into that cause. For instance, if you’re a vegan food brand, you wouldn’t want to partner with a barbecue festival. (Unless you’ve found a new twist on it, that is!) On the other hand, a clothing brand made from sustainable materials would make a good sponsor for an event focused on alternative energy sources.

What type of sponsorships is the organization offering to small businesses? Sponsorship levels can vary wildly, from a simple cash sponsorship in exchange for your logo being displayed at the event to an exchange of goods or services for recognition at the event. Be sure to read all of the benefits that come with each level before choosing which sponsorship to take. Go back to those goals you defined at the beginning of the process and choose the level which closely aligns with that.

Measure Your Return on Investment

After the event, be sure to measure your return on investment (ROI) to determine what you’re getting in return for your investment. There are two types of return on investment (ROI) for event sponsorship -- measurable and immeasurable.

Immeasurable results are the intangibles. For example, you can gain brand recognition, community visibility, and other intangible positive results from sponsoring events. Unfortunately, these things don’t have hard numbers behind them. You might sponsor several events over a year that all contribute to these results. For these, it’s important to have an overarching marketing plan that connects all of your efforts into one global goal.

On the other hand, measurable ROI is not as elusive as some experts would have you think. These results are based on a simple accounting of how many leads you brought back from the event or how many sales you made there.

For leads, you’d track the ones that came from the event and assign them a cost per lead based on what it usually costs you to bring in a qualified lead. For sales, it’s the actual money brought in during the event.

Here’s a straightforward equation you can use to calculate it:

[(Total Sales Revenue – Total Cost of the Event) ÷ Total Cost of Event] X 100

As revenue, use the combined revenue from sales and the value of the leads brought in from it. Don’t forget to add in sneaky costs to the total cost of the event, such as travel, costs of goods sold, the salary you paid employees to work the event, etc. Leaving out any costs will make it that much harder to get an accurate ROI measurement. 

As a small business owner, you benefit from an event sponsorship by marketing your brand, selling your products, or growing your business overall. Just make sure you are investing in the right opportunities for your business.