|Sponsorship is the fastest growing form of
marketing in the U.S. It is still very much in its infancy, especially in the
trade show arena. With this in mind, you can find unlimited opportunities to
broaden your competitive advantage by increasing your credibility, image and
prestige in sponsoring events attracting your target market.
Some trade show promotional opportunities include sponsorship of the press room,
an international lounge, a speaker or VIP room, an awards reception, educational
programs, banners, badge holders, audio visual equipment, display computers,
tote bags, shuttle buses, napkins and drink cups.
So, why should your company be interested in sponsorship? When done well, it
offers significant opportunities for distinct marketing and competitive
advantages, as well as showing support of the event.
What is sponsorship?
Sponsorship is the financial or in-kind support of an activity, used primarily
to reach specified business goals. According to IEG’s Complete Guide to
Sponsorship, "Sponsorship should not be confused with advertising. Advertising
is considered a quantitative medium, whereas sponsorship is considered a
qualitative medium. It promotes a company in association with the sponsee."
A large number of events these days use sponsorship support to offer more
exciting programs and to help defray rising costs. Sponsorship allows you to
reach specifically targeted niche markets without any waste. In addition, it is
a powerful complement to other marketing programs, in addition to having a
dramatic influence on customer relations.
Sponsorship offers the possibility of achieving several goals at once. According
to Schmader and Jackson in their book, Special Events: Inside and Out, a company
can benefit from sponsorship in many ways, such as:
- Enhancing Image/Shaping Consumer
Often companies are looking to improve how they are perceived by
their target audience. Sponsoring events that appeal to their market
are likely to shape buying attitudes and help generate a positive
reaction. Coca Cola, for example is always looking to generate a
positive influence of their products in the minds of their consumers
and as such regularly support events they feel can influence
- Driving Sales
Sponsorship geared to driving sales can be an extremely potent
promotional tool. This objective allows sponsors to showcase their
product attributes. Food and beverage companies often use
sponsorship to encourage samplings and sales.
IEG’s Complete Guide
to Sponsorship cites Visa’s fund-raising effort around its
sponsorship of the Olympic Games and the U.S. Olympic Team. They
promoted their association by offering to make a donation to the
team each time consumers charge a purchase to their card. American
Express used a similar strategy by donating to needy causes with
their "Charge Against Hunger" campaign. As a result, both companies
experienced a significant rise in sales volume.
- Creating positive
Every sponsor is seeking wide exposure in both electronic and print
media. Positive publicity helps create heightened visibility of
products/services. Various media covering the event may include
sponsors names and/or photos. In addition, the kind of media
coverage a sponsor may get is often unaffordable if the company were
to think of purchasing it, and if it were available. To maximize
this objective, it is important for the sponsoring company to have a
comprehensive media campaign to augment the regular media coverage
promoted by the organizers. Sponsorship can often generate media
coverage that might otherwise not have been available.
- Differentiating from competitors
The mere act of sponsoring an event, especially an exclusive
sponsorship, is a significant way to create competitor
differentiation. Your company name has the opportunity to stand out
head and shoulders above the competition. This is particularly
helpful if your company wants to combat a competitor with a larger
ad budget. Sponsorship allows smaller companies to compete with
their industry giants. Target audiences often perceive sponsorship
in a positive way. They see you as making a greater effort to
support the event, often allowing more or better activities to take
place as a result of your sponsorship.
- Helping with good "Corporate
Another powerful sponsorship objective allows companies to be viewed
as a "good neighbor." To be seen supporting the community and
contributing to its economic development is extremely powerful and
creates enormous goodwill.
- Enhancing business, consumer and
Sponsorship that offers hospitality opportunities is always very
attractive to companies. Perks may include special exclusive
networking settings such as VIP receptions or golf tournaments –
opportunities to meet key customers and solidify business
relationships. It is important to evaluate each opportunity and look
for ways it could tie into your marketing objectives.
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