In the mid 90’s, I attended many IEG Sponsorship Marketing Conferences in Chicago. Back then, speaker after speaker talked about the need to leverage sponsorship and community support initiatives to make them effective.
Now, twenty years later, I watch countless companies in this city give money to worthy causes and local events and then sit back and get lost in the logo soup of “advertising” that well-intentioned event people provide as part of the sponsor package.
Recently, a major local initiative was launched and many supportive companies became part of the program – only to be listed in a large full page ad that promoted the cause but not the companies.
So why do so many companies still resist “doing well while doing good”? There can only be a few reasons for this and none of them make any business sense:
- The support is necessary, but leveraging that support requires resources and creativity, both of which are not available within the company
- There is a skill related to leveraging sponsorship in a way that meets the company’s marketing objectives and there are very few people with this skill
- Its easier to simply give the charity money and then get out of the way
- The event or charity doesn’t know how to create true sponsorship platforms and is really asking for donations veiled as sponsorships.
- The company doesn’t want to be seen as self-serving or boorish – by doing business adjacent to their support.
The final reason is the one most quoted by company exectuives, yet it is the least valid. It is 2018 and consumers understand that sponsorship is a form of advertising and expect a connection between the sponsor and the event!
While there is no doubt that leveraging your support requires a sensitivity to the event/cause, there are a multitude of ways to attach corporate marketing activities to the sponsorship role without being offensive. Good event managers will work with their sponsors to create leveraging packages that meet each corporation’s specific marketing objectives (and if these event managers don’t provide this service, you should find another activity to sponsor).
To be clear, sponsorship that is not leveraged is a DONATION and should be part of your philanthropic budget.
A true sponsorship agreement becomes part of your advertising and marketing mix and should be treated with the same strategies and expectations as any other element in that plan.
If there is no one in your company that can turn that donation into business, seek a sponsor marketer to help you build a sponsor plan that integrates successfully into your marketing activities. There aren’t many in the city – but there are a few with this experience. At Deschenes Regnier, we have staff with twenty years experience in the sponsorship industry ready to help you do well while doing good.