Sponsorship marketing may sound like a new promotional tactic to some, but in reality, it’s a common business practice that many entrepreneurs already utilize. By donating to and sponsoring local individuals and organizations, businesses are able to help themselves and their communities. As an example, the Greater Twin Cities Honda Dealers (GTCHDA) and Northwest Honda Dealers (NWHDA) have begun donating money to local schools. In the end, they’re likely to see countless benefits from doing so.
Honda Dealers Donate to Schools
Before considering the variety of benefits of sponsorship marketing, it’s important to understand how it’s done and how it helps the local community. The GTCHDA and NWHDA are great examples of this. Each month a dealer within these two groups is selecting local schools to make monetary donations to. The community benefits of doing so might not be immediately apparent, but they will eventually.
With thousands of dollars flowing from these Honda dealers into nearby schools, districts have more money to spend on students. The great part about this is the fact that research shows a correlation between funding and student success. Not only are students more likely to finish high school when these schools have more money, statistics prove that increased funding for schools results in higher lifetime earnings for students.
While it may seem like sponsorship marketing is just an effort to get goodwill from the community, these Honda dealers have proven it’s really about helping students. Some residents were surprised, for instance, when they heard Dudley Peterson of Buerkle Honda say, “We are so thrilled to be able to help with … this $5,000 donation” to Vadnais Heights Elementary. The rarity of this level of contribution is surprising, but the simple fact is that, when communities are doing better, the businesses within those communities perform better as well.
Even if sponsoring local organizations only resulted in a more profitable community, most business owners would agree that living up to their social responsibility is worth it. In reality, though, the benefits of sponsorship marketing go far beyond that. Here are just a few of the numerous advantages that go along with sponsorship marketing.
Improved Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is a huge benefit of sponsorship marketing. After all, if people aren’t even aware of a brand, how are they ever expected to patronize the business? Buerkle Honda, for instance, has at least 17 other car dealerships within a two-mile radius. Not everyone will know they even exist.
After the $5,000 donation to Vadnais Heights Elementary, though, the contribution was reported on the local NBC station. From this broadcast, almost everyone in town knew about Buerkle Honda. Similarly, when Wilsonville Honda helped contribute $5,000 to Wilsonville High School, the Portland Tribune reported the story. The Hillsboro School District even sent out an announcement when Dick’s Hillsboro Honda helped donate $1,000 to Minter Bridge Elementary.
Attracts Socially Responsible Clients
Many business owners feel they just need a good product and great service to succeed. In reality, this is no longer the case. Out of the huge Millennial cohort, for instance, 73 percent say they will spend more money for a product if the company is socially responsible. With Millennials on track to surpass Baby Boomers in population by 2019, this is a huge wake-up call.
Companies have to strive to be socially responsible, and if they succeed in spreading this message, they’ll attract more clientele. Plus, helping out the community simply feels good. Scott Fletcher, the president and co-founder of the Tier10 agency that helped create the school initiative, made this apparent when he said, “It’s critical for our associations to connect with the market and community… [but] this initiative supporting the local schools and helping kids is by far my favorite.”
Even though Millennials are leading the charge in social responsibility, entrepreneurs and consumers from every generation are getting on board.
Improves Brand Essence
Branding is an important aspect of running a successful business, but many entrepreneurs overlook brand essence. This is essentially the feeling that consumers have when they think of a brand or product. Disney, for instance, conveys a magical feeling. Hallmark, on the other hand, creates a feeling of caring.
As Alexa Stanco, marketing director for the Greater Twin Cities Honda Dealers, pointed out, “Beyond increasing brand awareness in the region, the Greater Twin Cities Honda dealers knew they wanted a strong and meaningful relationship with the community.”
By sponsoring something as important as schools, the dealerships built the positive relationship Stanco mentioned with the community. The emotion elicited from this relationship is the brand essence that will attract consumers.
There are a variety of resources available that can help organizations achieve successful sponsorship marketing. Here are just a few of them.
- Money isn’t always king: Local organizations often need more than money. Donating food, apparel, free services and even volunteer hours can go a long way.
- Networking opportunities: When a company sponsors another organization, they usually aren’t the only ones doing so. Proactive entrepreneurs will reach out to these other businesses for networking connections.
- Focus on more than return: If a business owner is disingenuous in their social responsibility, consumers will often notice. Increased revenue is great, but the main goal should be to help others.
- Don’t go it alone: Sponsorship marketing can be more difficult than traditional promotional tactics. Business owners shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to professionals for guidance.
Be the Change in the World
Sponsorship marketing is essential for continued growth, but the GTCHDA and NWHDA have shown that building these relationships is much more than simple marketing. With the right strategy, ambitious entrepreneurs can help their business while simultaneously improving the world around them.