What Sponsorship Should Mean for Entrepreneurs

What does the word “sponsorship” mean to you as an entrepreneur? I’ve heard the word bandied around countless times in the different places I’ve worked at, and, without naming names, some of the sales people I’ve worked with -- meaning I’m in the same office, not part of their workflow -- seem content to dub “simply slap our company logo on a banner and leave it at the event” as the entirety of sponsorship.

Surely there’s more to it, though.

“Having a company’s a company’s logo on a banner can be quite effective if the event planner has a solid PR professional on his/her team,” explains Farrah Parker of FD Parker & Associates. “Logo placement on banners, marketing materials and the ultra-important step and repeat -- the cutesy duplication of logos you see behind celebrities in photos -- are awesome ways to highlight your brand without saying a word.”

But, even Parker agrees that can quickly fall into the “that’s all you’re gonna do?” category if you don’t know how to capitalize on it. You’ll be able to capitalize on it if you’re a logical sponsor for the event and you also have a say in how your brand will be represented. That means “using all channels to activate your sponsorship, i.e. Marketing, advertising, social media, etc.,” according to Simon Landon, an account executive at KemperLesnik. “Now that there are more ways to reach your audience… it’s a smart business decision as a sponsor to use all resources and channels to get the most return on your investment.”

I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but other stuff you should avoid as a sponsor? According to Olivia Scott-Perkins of Omerge Alliances, the path of least resistance includes a paltry website mention of the event, a quote for the property’s press release (meaning your own brand doesn’t circulate a release about it) and just cutting a check.

Like most things in life and in business, though, it boils down to having a clear-cut goal. Your goals will dictate your motivations, and your motivations will dictate your actions to accomplish them.

“It’s my thinking that being a sponsor should be more than just supplying money for an event in the hopes of getting recognition,” said Colby Courter, the corporate communications coordinator of Etna Interactive. “In my experience, the company sponsorship logo placement, radio & TV spots, booth space, and whatever else sponsorship money buys an organization, doesn't really increase a company's level of awareness to the public.”

On the other hand, there are always exceptions. Isha Edwards, a business instructor and brand marketing consultant at Epic Measures, LLC, points out that if you are opting for positioning a logo on a banner, it’s “actually quite effective if the names next to Small Unknown Company, Inc. On the banner are OWN/Oprah, NBC and the Coca-Cola Company.”

Again. What are your goals? 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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