By: Ben Goss
Marketing is more challenging than ever, yet also more necessary than ever.
Finding effective, efficient ways to reach consumers can seem difficult, particularly for smaller businesses, but one outstanding marketing option seldom considered is sponsorship of entertainment and sport properties.
How do they work?
Brands achieve successful cooperative relationships with entertainment and sport properties because each has what the other needs but lacks.
Brands give money to properties in exchange for exposure and chances to build direct relationships with fans.
If sponsorships are well executed, the excitement fans feel for properties can be transferred to sponsoring brands, which then shortcuts and influences fans’ purchase decisions.
This concept can be further understood through interpersonal relationships analogies.
- They should be mutually beneficial and make all parties better together than separately.
- They require investments of effort and energy and must be carefully managed.
- They often take a while to work optimally.
- They should be chosen with care, since damage to the image of one can also negatively impact the other.
Why do they work?
Although sponsorship may prove to be relatively expensive compared to other forms of marketing, several strong arguments can be made to support its worth.
Sponsorship can do many things for a brand. It can be a media buy, a brand showcase, a public relations tool, a sales promotion, a staff engagement platform and a corporate social responsibility initiative (among other things).
It would be difficult to find a more versatile marketing tool.
Few human institutions generate passion like fans feel for their favorite entertainment and sport properties. Tying that passion to a sponsor’s message greatly enhances the effectiveness of the message.
People enter leisure environments with one thing in mind: having fun!
As a result, they are less guarded and more primed to receive sponsors’ messages.
One key to making any form of marketing work is a distinctive cool factor. What could be cooler than entertainment or sport?
This cool factor gives a sponsor added marketing value by providing a chance to reach consumers inside a vibrant environment without interference from competitors.
Over time, the guaranteed exposure and frequent appearances of a well-managed sponsorship provide a business with levels of prestige and luster that its competitors don’t have and can’t duplicate, turning a sponsorship into a unique competitive edge.
Some smaller businesses might think this kind of marketing is only for big brands, but all sponsorships can provide these same advantages — regardless of brand or property size.
An effective sponsorship doesn’t necessarily require a multimillion-dollar budget or a big-time team.
Plenty of great sponsorship opportunities exist at grass-roots levels: stadiums, concerts, 5K races, fishing tournaments, high school athletics, etc.
These kinds of sponsorships can give even hyper-local businesses distinct competitive edges, just like big companies enjoy.
If you’ve been looking for more meaningful ways to market to more receptive audiences, it might be time to get your business off the bench and into the sponsorship game!
Benjamin D. Goss is an assistant professor of entertainment and sport management in the Department of Management at Missouri State University. Much of his research and consulting work involves sport marketing concepts like sponsorship and brand-building.
This article appeared in the April 15, 2017 edition of The News-Leader and can be accessed online here.