How Sponsorship Can Boost an Indie Brand

Sponsorship is the act of providing in-kind or financial support to an individual, organization, non-profit or event. For decades sponsorship has been utilized by some of the world’s leading brands, but more and more small businesses and independent brands are beginning to recognize what a powerful tool it can be. When it’s done right, sponsorship can provide a brand with an increased competitive advantage and creates unique opportunities for marketing and promotion.

A business can carry out sponsorship through a variety of activities, but to be effective, the sponsorship should be granted to an event, organization or individual that is able to bring the brand in direct contact with its target audience.

You may be considering sponsoring a trade show for example, and while there are certainly plenty of ways to get involved, such as supporting lounge/press rooms, programs and brochures, receptions, consumer items and even transportation, it will only be effective if the people who see your company logo are the ones who will want to buy your products or services.

If you have a niche brand, then the first thing you need to be clear about is who your target customer is; then you can look for events through which you can reach them. One of the most successful brands to sponsor events is PokerStars, the global online poker platform. The company sponsors professional poker festivals and live tournaments around the world, as well as professional poker players and elite athletes, maximizing their opportunity to reach target audiences.

Sponsoring an individual like a local artist, athlete or celebrity is a great way to go about beginning sponsorship activities. And there are plenty of ways in which an independent retailer, for example, can support an individual who is trying to reach their goals. Sometimes it can take the form of providing them with special equipment, production space, travel funding or even contributions for professional fees or training. Digicel is a Jamaican mobile phone company that has sponsored an athlete considered to be the greatest sprinter on the planet, Usain Bolt, since his early days in the sport. When you consider that in 2009 his marketing value was calculated to be more than over $356 million, the importance of this sponsorship arrangement with the telecom company can’t be underestimated.

So, what are the ways in which a sponsorship arrangement can boost your brand?

Well, firstly, it can be an incredibly powerful promotional tool to drive sales, particularly if your chosen sponsee is able to showcase your products or services. Specifically, it can generate publicity, increase brand visibility and maximize the efficacy of your current social media presence or marketing campaign. Sponsorship also helps you to differentiate from your competitors. And by lending your brand name to an event or an individual, you have already positioned yourself above your competitors, even if they have a larger promotional budget than you. This is particularly advantageous as consumers view sponsorship as something positive, especially when it’s in line with corporate social responsibility, and will often use that to differentiate between a business than sponsors and one that doesn’t.

Since sponsorship agreements can be set for a certain period, for a maximum value or even for a single event, they can be relatively low cost and low risk. And as we’ve already discussed, in-kind support is just as commonplace as financial support when it comes to creating sponsorship agreements. Ultimately, this promotional tool can be utilized by businesses and brands of all sizes, and may well be the most effective business decision you make this year.

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