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Local Sports Sponsorship: Make it Grow your Business

Think of local sponsorship as an investment, just like any marketing strategy. One of the greatest advantages to sponsoring a local team is the positive word-of-mouth that it generates for the company. When people in the community see the sponsor supporting their favourite team, they see the sponsor as a friend.

If the sponsor is with the team for a long period of time it almost becomes part of the team. How many Geelong Cats supporters drive a Ford? How many St George Dragons supporters have accounts with St George bank? The same will happen locally. If you are part of the team, then you are a friend of the team. And friends always receive trust.

Trust is likely to result in an increase in business. When selecting a team to sponsor it’s important to keep in mind that each sport has levels ranging from casual recreational leagues to more competitive and high profile leagues. Uniform requirements vary from sport to sport. Rugby Union, League and Soccer all have jerseys so they usually have sponsors on their front, back and shoulders. Putting your logo on the jumper’s sleeve will be cheaper than the torso but may still give your company a fair amount of coverage. Many teams also have sponsors on their shorts. Find a team that works for your budget, your interests and your need for community profile.

Matt Baxter, director of sponsorship industry news service, Sponsorship News reckons that a real estate business should look at it as a social gift that fits into their marketing strategy. The benefits to the agency are twofold, Mr Baxter says. One, through event signage or branding on club jerseys, they receive awareness and a platform to deliver their brand’s message.

They may also have access to club member directories for direct marketing and receive invitations and introductions to club representatives. Secondly, is the value they can get if they promote the relationship. A few examples would be using the sponsored club’s photos in marketing material, or a bold display of club colours in the office.

Although the results can be intangible, you would be surprised of the impact genuine interest in a community activity can have on customers. As a sponsor of a club, the agency is also likely to receive exclusivity, which will provide a point of difference with their competitors. The problem with sponsorship as an advertising medium is that it is hard to determine how effective it is. Mr Baxter believes the return on investment will depend on the sponsorship outlay.

Find a team or an event that is of interest to your target. Keep in mind the deal is likely to be with junior sport so the target is going to be the parents. Matt Baxter, Director, Sponsorship News

If it’s a small investment, just go with gut feeling or any anecdotal means to determine if the sponsorship has developed any business, Mr Baxter says. If the spend is more significant, you obviously will want something more substantial to justify your spend. You can appoint a marketing consultant to do arms length analysis on the sponsorship.

This will involve surveys and a comparison with other marketing efforts. You will want to ask new customers if they know your agency sponsors the club and you should ask the club if they can assist to determine whether the sponsorship developed any business. A survey of club members to see if they are aware that your agency is a club sponsor is ideal, even asking them if they would consider your services because you are a club sponsor.

Mr Baxter believes the key is that the real estate business must know its target market. At a basic level it is a matter of finding a team or an event that is of interest to your target. Keep in mind the deal is likely to be with junior sport so the target is going to be the parents. It’s a minor concern what sport or what team at grassroots level to sponsor, just as long as the target market is the correct fit. An interest and understanding of the sport by the sponsor is a plus, but enthusiasm is far more important. Taking it a step further, a club or team that generates any media coverage because of their success is obviously a benefit to sponsors, however, this really should be of secondary concern with a grassroots sponsorship as it should be about development and support of sport and not just about achievement.

Maximise marketing opportunities
There are plenty of ways to maximise marketing opportunities through local sports sponsorship. Here are five tips to increase your return on investment: Club newsletter

Most clubs post or e-mail newsletters to their members and supporters. Ask whether your logo can be featured in the newsletter, or if a link to your website can be included. You may even be able to include your printed flyers as inserts in newsletters that are posted.
Lend a hand

On competition days there are always jobs to do. Whether you are cooking the sausage sizzle, selling raffle tickets, setting up banners or just providing some vocal sideline support, meeting community members face”to”face and showing genuine support for their team generates invaluable goodwill.
Logo opportunities

You have already established the club members and supporters are your target audience, so how can you ensure they are noticing your logo? Ask about other opportunities, like providing drink coasters or serviettes printed with your marketing message. Maybe you can provide a branded marquee to provide shade or branded umbrellas to shield the rain in wet weather.

Social events and presentation nights
There will be opportunities outside of competition days to support the club in person. Maybe you can present awards at the annual presentation night or provide some additional financial or in”kind support at fund”raising events like golf days or trivia nights. These represent great opportunities to network with potential customers.
Member database

Subject to privacy rules, you may be entitled to contact members and supporters. Maybe you can incentivise club members for referrals, invite them to special events or send them material that will be of interest to them. The last thing the club will want is junk mail or spam e-mails reaching their members but there may be opportunities for contact that provides benefits to the club, the members and the sponsor. Think creatively and ask your club’s sponsor liaison person about what your ideas.
Industry perspectives

Sold spoke to different agents and asked whether their sponsorship of local sports was part of a strategic marketing plan or an altruistic contribution to the community.
Ted Judd, director oF LJ Hooker, Wangaratta, Victoria

Sponsoring a local sporting team exposes my office and me to a wide range of people whom I may not have met during the course of a typical day. In my business this is a very important benefit. Also it is a great opportunity to build LJ Hooker’s profile ” as a result of our sponsorship, LJ Hooker is listed every week with the Club in the Ovens & Murray Football League supporter ‘The Critic’ and in the Ovens & King Football League ‘The Supporter’ magazines.

The sponsorship with Imperials gives LJ Hooker Wangaratta 7 days a week advertising. LJ Hooker and three other businesses in Wangaratta got together and bought shirts and jackets so that team members would have a uniform. Part of the embroidery on the back of these shirts and jackets are our respective company logos and names. We feel a lot of pride every time we see the players wear them.

I am a firm believer that people should give back to the local community and also support what they enjoy. Sponsoring a local team is probably not the most cost effective advertising, especially in a small town. However, my decisions to sponsor clubs are based on many factors including my love of sport and wanting to support the wonderful community I am a part of.
Bill KyriaKopoulos, director, lJ hooKer thornBury, Victoria

LJ Hooker Thornbury has been sponsoring the City of Darebin’s ‘Mayor’s Cup’ Golf Tournament for approximately 14 years. This sporting event is a major one on our calendar and certainly benefits us in many ways. It increases the profile of LJ Hooker Thornbury in the local community and provides an excellent networking platform-giving my team the opportunity to mix with other business people in a unique informal setting. Over the years this has certainly led to us meeting some great business potentials.

We have not had any direct feedback from customers about our involvement but the organisers of the event see LJ Hooker Thornbury as an active part of the local business community and this is certainly a positive for my team.

I would recommend an agency sponsor a local sporting team but it is very important that an agency finds the right event or the hard work and investment often involved would not be justifiable. A great relationship built on mutual respect would result in the sporting club becoming a wonderful advocate for your business.

Sponsoring a local team is cost effective advertising provided your relationship with that club or team is a long term proposition-then the benefits would far outweigh the costs involved.
Bill Nairn, director, lJ hooKer Torquay, Victoria

LJ Hooker Torquay has over the years supported many sporting teams and clubs. To me the support we give symbolises my team’s commitment to our local community.

Customers like to deal with people who have similar values to them and LJ Hooker Torquay’s consistent engagement with the local community has always received positive feedback. I would recommend agencies sponsor local sporting teams. It broadens your contacts and shows that you are prepared to give back to your community in a real way.

I am a life member of the Torquay Football and Torquay Cricket club, as are my father, mother and brother so yes I do have a keen personal interest in local sporting events.

Sponsoring a local team is not just about throwing in ‘x’ amount of dollars. You need to be there every week doing so much more than just the sponsorship. It is only those who make the commitment that will see any cost effectiveness in this type of investment.

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