Corporate sponsorship is big business, but you don't have to be a multinational company with millions of pounds to spend in order to benefit. Even small sponsorship deals – for example, a niche event, local individual or small charity – can be an effective way of promoting your company, providing you reach your target market.

Identify objectives

Before choosing a sponsorship target, define your objectives. What do you want to get out of this deal in the short and long term? If you are considering sponsoring an event, your short-term objectives might simply be to reinforce your company image among customers and attract interest from potential customers.

Long-term, you may seek a continuous sponsorship deal whereby customers learn to associate your company with the event (or person, or charity). This can be an effective branding tool, instilling in customers a sense of longevity, reliability and familiarity with your company.

Select your target

You may have a particular sponsorship target in mind, or you may wait to be approached by various charities or event organisers. Before choosing what or who to sponsor, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it reach your target market?
  • Approximately how many customers or potential customers will it reach?
  • Will you have exclusive sponsorship, or be one of a number of sponsors?
  • Are there different levels of sponsorship, with different fee structures?
  • Does it have a good reputation within your industry or locality?

Budget effectively

Work out your budget for the sponsorship before entering negotiations. Eliminate unreasonable expectations on either side by brokering a properly planned and realistic financial agreement between your company and those you are sponsoring.

You will also need to have an internal budget to capitalise on the sponsorship. Costs such as entertaining, promotional products and publicity will all have to be allowed for to make the most of the opportunity.

Marketing

Develop a marketing plan in conjunction with those you are sponsoring. Ensure that you provide them with your company logo and literature to include on any publicity they send out. Also develop your own marketing tools, such as:

  • Send out a press release – focus on those you are sponsoring but make sure you mention your company's involvement
  • Organise promotional merchandise – decide if t-shirts, mugs, pens, etc would be appropriate
  • Advertise – take out an ad in your local/trade newspaper or magazine, pointing out your involvement
  • Competition – set up some sort of competition to strike up interest in your company
  • Invite your existing customers and/or suppliers to attend if you are sponsoring an event
  • Follow-up – use the sponsorship as a way in to contact customers or potential customers, taking advantage of the 'feel good' factor