Michael Reynolds in General on Monday, December 12, 2011
Sponsors are a significant portion of revenue for many organizations. Many of our non-profit and associations clients depend on attracting sponsors to help them fund programs throughout the year.
For a long time, sponsorship meant contributing funds and then getting your logo displayed on some of the marketing material tied to a particular event. Or sometimes it means paying for a web banner to run on the organization's website. In general, most sponsorship packages consist of placing the sponsor's logo or banner in sort sort of visible spot and leaving it at that.
It's important for organizations to take care of their sponsors and treat them well. While the traditional packages used by most organizations do have value, there are some other ways to get creative and offer even more value. Since the traditional banner ad model lacks personality and a human connection, it's sometimes a good idea to include other options that introduce a more personal connection to your sponsors.
Why would an organization want to add more value in sponsorship packages? Sponsors are looking for a return on their investments. If they see value in their sponsorships that lead to more business, they are more likely to purchase additional packages in the future. They might even spend more money next time, which is a revenue opportunity for your organization.
Much of today's communication is done in the digital realm. This has created all sorts of opportunities to design creative sponsorship packages using newer digital tools.
So how do you leverage today's digital landscape to add more value for your sponsors?
To start with, you need to have a strong content marketing plan in place. This will open up a lot more options while giving your sponsors a more receptive audience to talk to. While traditional marketing is more about shouting and fighting for attention, content marketing is a more thoughtful approach which can often lead to a more loyal audience.
Here are some things that your organization can tie into a strong content marketing plan to create unique sponsorship packages:
1. Video interviews. Consider offering sponsors a video interview (or even a series) as part of their packages. If your sponsors are local, have them drop into your office and record a short interview in which you ask them about their products and services in a thoughtful conversation using a flipcam or smart phone. If they are not local use Skype or GoToMeeting. Have the guys at Candidio (affiliate link) do some touch-up for you. Then, publish the video on your website and social media accounts to get it in front of your members. Perhaps even include it in your blog or email communications. You are blogging, right?
2. Guest blog. Speaking of blogging, offer your sponsors a guest blog opportunity so they can demonstrate thought leadership to your audience. Of course, this becomes more valuable as your blog gets more traffic, which means it's a good idea to maintain a great blog that is well-distributed.
3. Sponsored QR scavenger hunt. QR codes are becoming more ubiqutous and there are fun things you can do with them, such as a QR code scavenger hunt. By allowing your sponsor to put together this fun event at your convention, you create the opportunity to get your sponsor's brand and messaging in front of people via video, as well as give away a great prize. It's a complex game, but has potential to really create broad awareness of your sponsor's brand and messaging. Or, on the flip side, of you are creating your own QR scavenger hunt, offer sponsors the option of hosting a QR code at their exhibit booths in order to increase traffic.
4. Use social media. If your organization is active on social media and provides value on a regular basis, you will likely have a strong following on networks like Twitter, Facebook, and in your LinkedIn groups. Consider designing sponsorship packages that include thoughtful promotion of their companies via your social media profiles. For example, if your sponsor reserves a week on social media, you could tweet things like "This week's sponsor is Acme, Inc - we love how they take care of our members. Be sure to read this case study (link)."
5. Run your own groupon-style email campaigns. This is especially relevant for associations. Groupon is a "daily deal" service that sends deeply-discounted special offers out to a database of subscribers. Associations can run their own mini-Groupon service simply by leveraging their existing databases of members. It needn't be as elaborate as the mainstream services. All the association needs to do is start setting an expection for members that every week (for example) members will get a special offer via email from a sponsor. Any sponsor wanting to purchase a spot pays a sponsorship fee to the association. The sponsor then creates a special offer with some sort of discount and the association sends it out in the weekly email. It's a win-win-win. The association gets revenue, the sponsor gets exposure, and members get a discount on relevant products or services.
They key to these ideas is relevance and clarity. You will want to make sure that you only accept sponsors which align with your organization's values. Additionally, you will want to make sure to keep communications clean and un-cluttered. This is espcially important in email communications.
You can also consider mixing and matching ideas to come of with other variations. If you stay focused on taking care of your sponsors, providing value for your constituents, and maintaining a strong content marketing plan, you will have an excellent opportunity to create more revenu for your organization though creative sponsorship packages.