Starting at grass roots
If you want to get involved with sport sponsorship, the first option to consider is sponsoring a junior team or club. Junior sport is ideal because it’s not about winning, it’s about participation and healthy activity. Being involved with a junior team presents your brand as a local business supporting the community rather than a corporate sponsor trying to sell something. Parents, coaches and club officials will definitely take notice.
To become the major sponsor for a junior football team you are probably looking at less than $1000. In return you will have 10 to 15 kids running around in the mud every weekend wearing your logo on their back. But that’s just the start.
You will likely get exposure in the club newsletter, website, banner ads, social media, and at club presentation evenings and fundraising events. Most importantly though, you’ll have the chance to network with a lot of new people.
I was often told by the franchise owner of my Northern Beaches networking group that the only networking organisation better than his, was his son’s U/8 soccer team.
Jumping to the other end of the spectrum, you might be surprised at the number of affordable opportunities that exist with elite and even Olympic athletes.
Many sports struggle for coverage in the mainstream media, especially during non-Olympic years. But other types of media, such as local and social media (driven by the athletes) are constant, and there are some good opportunities to promote yourself if you are willing to search them out.
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What to look for
The first thing to look for is a well-organised athlete or team who runs their career like a business. They should:
- Be interested in building a relationship with you.
- Have a good website and social media accounts, with hundreds, if not thousands of likes and followers.
- Be updating their social media accounts on a regular basis.
- Be continually building awareness around their brand.
Do they offer good networking opportunities? A good sponsorship prospect is well connected in the local business community, and their own promotional events should offer you the chance to mingle with other business owners and VIP’s.
Find an athlete with potential to improve. If you are smart about it and get a bit lucky, you never know, in a few years you might find yourself as a long-term, loyal sponsor of a gold medal athlete.
As a sponsor, whether it’s junior, elite or something in between, you are making yourself and your business more interesting. Your existing customers will take notice and your prospects will be impressed. It also creates opportunities for press releases and local news stories.
Sports sponsorship is a proactive investment. If you are willing to invest a bit of time, money and effort, you could buy promotion that lasts an entire season or longer, for the same price as one ad in your local newspaper.
What are your thoughts on soloist sport sponsorship? Got anything else to add?