Of all the marketing tools, sponsorship is one of the best ways to show just what your business stands for.

Done well, it can connect your business directly with people in a non-threatening, “non-salesy” way right at a point when they are experiencing something positive.

Sponsorship should form a part of your annual marketing strategy. But it should work hard for you and the organisation you partner with.

The beginning point is reaching understanding that sponsorship is a two-way relationship.

And it is NOT a donation.

If you are a sponsor

1.    Be proactive

Instead of waiting for people to knock on your door (as they inevitably will), put out the call and clearly stipulate what you are hoping to achieve.

I’m not sure why more businesses don’t issue a media release annually calling for Expressions of Interest from organisations needing support.

2.    Know your values

Your partner organisation will need to be aligned with each and every one of them.

3.    Be clear about what you want to achieve

Is it to increase sales, drive traffic to your website, boost your local profile, attract great staff, align yourself with a great cause…? This will help to shape decisions around the details of your sponsorship arrangement.

4.    Leverage the relationship

Consider how you could gain maximum benefit from the relationship for the duration of the arrangement. Is it opportunity for your staff to improve their skills by working with your sponsor partner? Could you use the arrangement to promote your business in different ways?

5.    Consider investing in fewer, longer term relationships

Only good things can come from a long-term relationship in which all parties understand one another.

If you are seeking sponsorship

1.     Understand the hallmarks of a great sponsorship arrangement. Usually these are:

  • frequent and open communication
  • high levels of commitment from all parties
  • based on trusting relationships

2.    Be flexible

Sponsors will want an arrangement that can be tailored to their needs and business goals.

3.    Offer tangible benefit

You’ll need to articulate exactly what you can offer in return for the sponsor’s investment.

4.    Understand how your values align

It’s pointless approaching prospective sponsors whose values do not align with your own.  Proactively seek relationships with organisations with whom you are most compatible. These are likely to be the most long-lasting of relationships.

5.    Invest in the relationship

Please don’t ever just take the money and run! Ensure there is a person in your organisation who has responsibility for the relationship.