Sponsorship is commonplace in professional sports. Everything from the pitch border to a player’s socks is selling something. On an even bigger scale are the competitions and stadiums themselves, that go by Heineken Cup, Sports Direct Arena, Aviva Stadium. Marketing is a success when we repeat a brand’s name aloud, as we do again and again with these advertorial nomenclatures.
Grassroots sports are largely untouched by brands, despite their desperate need for funding. Sponsors could help finance equipment, attire, or travel, whilst they themselves benefit from the exposure. Powerleague is an excellent example of grassroots venue sponsorship. With bright red pitches sporting Budweiser logos, their facilities and equipment are kept in top condition. Perhaps we are more precious about the authenticity of our local sports. Or maybe we just don’t know where to begin.
- Assess your assets
Where can a banner be hung? If your entrance is by a main road, an advertisement there could attract the attention of passing traffic. Tennis nets, football pitches, printed materials, social media posts, and your website are all places that can be branded. Venue sponsorship is all about visible advertising. Small posters can be hung on the back of bathroom doors. Walk through your venue with fresh eyes and identify every nook and cranny that has advertorial potential. Do you get a lot of website and social media traction? Host your sponsor’s name and logo on your website and big them up in your tweets and Instagram posts. You need to be able to offer something back to anyone that gets involved, so think about how you can sell these spaces.
- Identify your needs
Are you looking for new equipment? Uniforms? Is there a giant gaping hole in your net? The more specific you are about your requirements, the more compelling your case. Perhaps the sponsors will want their advertising to be directly related to the funding, eg. they buy a goal post that is branded with their logo, or supply jerseys can sport both your team name and “Janette’s Launderette”.
- Think local
The Cafe around the corner from your training ground will directly benefit from sponsoring your your venue. Maybe they could supply drinks and snacks for the venue. The local launderette could sponsor your towels or your staff uniforms (so long as you keep them clean). You could also ask members of your club about their businesses. They are already interested in your venue, so are more likely to listen to your ideas.
- Create a sponsorship proposal
How many members do you have? Roughly, how many people pass by your badminton courts each day? Do you have a large social media following? Figures are crucial, but don’t exaggerate them. You need to look serious about the relationship and proud of your business. “People don’t invest in what you do, they invest in why you do it”- Ever seen Dragon’s Den? It is the story you tell and the passion you show.
Introduction: Who you are, what you do, why you do it.
Your plans and potential: What you’re hoping for and why you expect success!
Your interest in them: Draw parallels between their brand and yours. Do you both champion a strong community ethos? Are both businesses focused on health? Flatter them, but don’t pander them.
Direct sell: Make your transaction clear. What do you want in figures and what do they get back in figures?
Contact detail: Ask them to get in touch with you.
- Make contact
Call the business and ask to speak to someone in charge of venue sponsorship. Bigger companies may have a marketing manager, but for smaller businesses it will most likely be the owner or general manager who decides. Phoning before sending is a good way to introduce yourself. It helps them discern if you are a worthy business partner. You may even discover that they don’t do venue sponsorship, so you save yourself the time of tailoring your proposal to them.
- Send and follow up
Send it off! If you have not heard back within a week, follow up by phone, email, or visit them in person. Do not be hostile; remain positive and curious.
- Do the deal
If you’ve made it this far, you know that they like your brand and your message. Keep focused on what you can offer and why your venue is a worthy investment.
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