Whether you’re a bank with local branches or a franchise business with multiple locations, local sponsorships offer a powerful way for your local representatives to build relationships and visibility in the communities they serve. Sponsorships are effective because supporting local sports teams, charitable causes, the arts and other cultural organizations puts your brand in front of the customers and prospects you most want to reach at the local level.
Of course, the value of community sponsorships is not news to marketers. In North America alone, sponsorship spending is expected to increase 4.1 percent in 2017, growing from $22.3 billion in 2016 to $23.2 billion this year (source: IEG). And among franchise businesses, community sponsorships are the fourth most used promotional channel behind direct mail, Facebook ads and online directory advertising (source: BIA/Kelsey).
While we can all appreciate the upside of local sponsorships—both for sponsoring businesses and their nonprofit partners—not every sponsorship dollar is well spent. For multi-location businesses like banks and franchises, local sponsorships can present a number of challenges—from lack of a clear strategy or budget oversight, to improper representation of the brand, to underestimating resources needed for execution. These sorts of missteps can undermine your organization’s ability to achieve the full potential of community sponsorships.
So how do you ensure your investment in sponsorships is well placed in terms of its ability to generate desired results? Further, how do you ensure you can support local sponsorships in a way that makes sense from both an economic and feasibility standpoint?
Here are some recommendations for overcoming common sponsorship challenges so you can support your local teams in executing effective community sponsorships.
Establish Goals & Guidelines to Ensure Success
There are a number of reasons why community sponsorships fall short of expectations. Sometimes the relationship simply doesn’t make sense strategically, like a fast food franchise sponsoring a farmer’s market. Other sponsorships are entered into by local representatives who commit to a partnership without a valid strategy or objective. They may have a personal connection to an organization, but it’s not an appropriate fit for your brand. Others may choose to fulfill sponsorship opportunities by using home grown materials that are not brand compliant.
Avoid investing in pointless opportunities by developing guidelines for your local marketing teams and urge them to define goals for each sponsorship. It’s important to communicate with your local teams about choosing sponsorship opportunities wisely, considering appropriate resources, and defining measures of success. At a minimum, have your local reps verify that your organization fulfills a clear need of the consumers they will be reaching through their sponsorship.
Eliminate Chances for Going Rogue
Once you are in sync regarding the right types of sponsorships, it’s a matter of executing wisely. Prevent “rogue” activity by creating processes and compliant templated materials that field representatives can easily customize, such as flyers, promotional items, logos and advertisements that can quickly and cost-effectively be resized for programs, newsletters and websites. Keep processes simple for easy execution by field representatives and be sure to involve them in the process. And always track what you and your local teams are doing. Data from past sponsorships can help support future decisions.
Get a Handle on Budget and Fulfillment Management
It can be overwhelming to manage sponsorship requests from multiple field locations, particularly for bank marketers who also have to be concerned with regulatory compliance issues. By automating the sponsorship request and approval process, you can manage the workflow from request through fulfillment, including compliance approval, budget approval and tracking, and calculating ROI.
Elevate Your Local Sponsorship Game
If you really want to up the ROI on community sponsorships you have to commit to being more than just the “official partner” of an event or organization. Encourage your local representatives to find ways to engage supporters to build more meaningful relationships. Consider partnering with organizations that offer opportunities for long-term involvement. And don’t miss out on ways to integrate the sponsorship with other communications channels.
Engage your local teams on more thoughtful and automated management of community sponsorships. They will be better positioned and motivated to engage with their local communities, which will lead to a greater overall success of your sponsorship programs.