Through our experience talking to local businesses around Kent, we have identified four main misconceptions about sponsorship when it comes to arts events.
#1 It’s a philanthropic donation.
This is the most common misconception we’ve heard.
Some businesses may be sponsoring arts events because they think that the arts are important and need to be supported, but most businesses are doing it because it is a powerful tool to meet their goals.
Sponsorship is a business transaction where businesses receive a service. They invest their money in sponsorship marketing, which is a financial or in-kind collaboration designed to reach targeted audiences and achieve business objectives.
Creating experiences together for their audiences, both parties add value to an event.
Sponsorship is not a gift. It should be part of a marketing strategy, as a complement to other marketing activities. You define the objectives of your event sponsorship just like you do with the rest of your marketing.
In a good sponsorship relationship, you would discuss your objectives with the event organisers, describe how you’d like to get involved, which products you want to promote… and work towards that, in partnership with the event.
#2 It’s limited to logo display and signage.
In fact, sponsorship is powerful precisely because it is not about the logo, but because it is an active and interactive marketing tool. It’s about meaningful engagement with audiences.
Sponsorship is determined by action. Instead of visual exposure only, it offers sponsors many – pretty much unlimited – opportunities to get actively involved.
As an event sponsor, you can get in front of audiences, create and develop relationships at events, speak at events, participate in conversations in social media, showcase products, demonstrate your skills and expertise, re-engage with staff and clients, etc… Depending on the nature of an event, you can add a strong social aspect too.
You wouldn’t think, “That’s a great event, we’ll sponsor it” and move away… You would get involved, meet your audience live and act directly with them to promote your company.
Sponsorship helps you create awareness and visibility but ,unlike advertising, it is a two-way dialogue. This way, sponsorship offers you a platform where communication is more meaningful so people are more receptive to your message.
Also, a fundamental aspect of sponsorship is that it allows customization. Sponsorship can be highly customized so you can tailor the features that will help you best get the benefits you need.
Sponsorship offers many opportunities to stand out above the competition. Being a sponsor – a lead sponsor especially – is a significant way to create differentiation. Way more than what a logo does. There is an opportunity to do business differently.
#3 There is no return on investment
Once you get exposure to audiences in a meaningful way (and act on it), something is likely to happen. It’s not guaranteed, but it is a lot more likely to happen than if you sit back and just look. At the very least, your company’s image will make its way through the audiences’ mind. Done well, sponsorship offers significant marketing opportunities and competitive benefits.
Being where your audience is key …. Where a local popular event takes places, a business can borrow on that popularity by becoming a sponsor.
In the past, we partnered with a sponsor who didn’t engage with audiences (online or offline) and didn’t turn up at the event they were sponsoring. There wasn’t much of a return afterwards…
What you get out of sponsoring an event depends on what you signed up for and how it’s done. If your logo displayed on a flyer is what you want, you will get some exposure but the ROI is not going to be as significant as if there is engagement with audiences. Then, the impact is bigger.
#4 Only big companies can afford it
With sponsorship, even large events are available to small businesses. With smaller budgets, they can sponsor sub-events for instance, smaller activities or leveraging their sponsorship through participation at events.
Opportunities are so wide with sponsorship that there is something for everyone and for every budget.
Also, businesses can be involved by participating in-kind rather than with cash, showing off their skills, expertise or products directly to an audience. That is very powerful.
An economic downturn may not seem the best for spending money on marketing, but at the same time businesses want their names out more than ever. Being where others are not makes a business more visible. In fact, as the economic situation gets challenging, businesses look for alternative ways to promote themselves.
Sponsorship marketing is one answer.
The key to sponsorship is the opportunity to directly access an event’s audience in meaningful ways. Through events that they like and enjoy, audiences have a positive perception of the businesses that help to make them happen, increasing loyalty to a company’s brand, leading to more sales.
Like most things in life and in business, it’s all about people and relationships…
Why not looking into what we offer here at Kent Creative?