Leveraging Sponorships to Build Brand Loyalty
It is not unusual for a business of any size to be approached numerous times per year about sponsoring a special event, or cause. In fact, we here at 44º North are on occasion tasked with assisting a client (not for profit) secure sponsors for a special event.
The issue for businesses gets cloudy when they confuse sponsoring an event with advertising. Many businesses use the words or concepts interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Both are forms of marketing and both get the companies name in the public eye, but that’s where the similarities end.
In advertising, any business can pay to place an ad in media such as print, TV, radio, on the web etc. to get their message out in the market about special offers, sales, brand, or in-house event. And in advertising part of the success formula is frequency, meaning the message must be repeated enough to penetrate the market.
Unlike advertising however, sponsorship can offer exclusivity, allowing the business to essentially “own” that space, time, or potential audience for whatever time the sponsorship term is. A sponsorship leverages the personality of the group, organization, or event, to affect the target audience. It can aid in building goodwill and loyalty by helping to build a relationship. For example, if your target market is a mother with young children, by sponsoring a child centric event, you can build good will with that target audience.
Unlike advertising, a sponsorship can offer creative approaches in building that relationship. Along with the sponsorship is often the opportunity to interact one on one with the target audience. You can see this at golf outings, when a golf hole sponsor has company representatives at the hole, interacting with golfers. These can be golden opportunities, because unlike advertising, you have a captive audience at that moment in time.
In addition, sponsoring major events may include opportunities to entertain or invite existing customers to the event allowing a business to further cement the relationship and build loyalty. Sporting events are common places where this might take place.
With an increase in discussion (thanks to social media and the internet) among consumers about products, and brands, many companies are looking to sponsorships as a way to get into the discussion, and a better way to build brand loyalty long term.
If you have a solid advertising plan, consider layering in sponsorships that fit your target market to build brand recognition and loyalty.