D&B Supply, a store that bills itself as a supplier of the country lifestyle, created name plates for each stall at the Ford Idaho Horse Park, one of the venues at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has been providing free parking at the center for visitors who hold a state parks pass.
Their contributions are publicized under a sponsorship arrangements that markets the store and the parks department, respectively, to potential shoppers and outdoor enthusiasts.
“This is a great synergy because D&B has direct exposure to their core customer base,” says Derrek Batson, the corporate partnership manager for Ford Idaho Center.
The parking perk, he says, is aimed at visitors who make up part of the parks department’s customer base because they have access to a vehicle and are active.
A good deal
Sponsorships are a valuable tool in making a corporate event a success by helping with the funding or adding a benefit that increases attendance. On their end, businesses can get publicity and brand awareness for their payments through emails, website traffic, social media, radio and TV ads, an event’s program, signage and wraps, logos on swag and an announcement at the event.
At the Ford Idaho Center, for example, sponsorships can be for a specific event or the whole building and each is tailored to fit the corporation’s needs, Batson said.
“It’s my job to make sure people have the right element,” he said.
The three venues at Ford Idaho Center — the horse park, an arena and an amphitheater — hold numerous concerts, conventions, conferences, trade shows, sporting events, equestrian shows and other events a year. With hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the center has a big potential audience for the sponsors.
“A company with a large online presence may be better served with sponsoring some of the venue’s digital assets,” Batson says. “On the other hand, a more word-of-mouth company may be better served with static signage.”
One measure of a sponsor’s return on investment is impressions, or the number of times an ad is seen, he says. In the case of the parks department, the number of free parking passes is one indication.
Looking for the right fit
So how does a planner find and recruit sponsors for an event?
Batson says a lot of specific events, such as a concert, carry their own sponsors. For other events and the center itself, he and his team recruit sponsors through relationships they’ve developed or with cold calls.
Danielle Snelson is CEO of both the Meridian-based SONA Events and daniellesnelson.com, an online company that teaches executives of nonprofits how to sell sponsorships for their fundraisers. She offers these pointers for both corporate events and nonprofit fundraisers:
Assess what you have to offer
- What are the demographics you can reach? What are the marketing possibilities? Those could include TV and radio ads or social media mentions or a website presence, among others.
- Analyze what opportunities a sponsorship can give a company outside of the live event. For example, a sponsorship might give a company exposure to 500 people during the event itself and potentially up to 100,000 through an email marketing list before and after that date.
- Find organizations and companies that would have an interest in your demographic reach.
- Research potential sponsors to learn who they support and what types of causes interest them. Get demographics on all your marketing areas and on the attendees who are expected.
- Call potential sponsors and learn what they want out of a sponsorship — contacts, brand awareness, exposure in a new market or an opportunity to build relationships on a one-to-one basis. “As an event organizer, it’s important to understand what those ROI (return-on-investment) points are so you can execute them through your event process,” Snelson said.
- Create a sponsorship package and pitch it to your prospects.
A success story
It was a win-win-win when Icon Credit Union gave out flip flops in May to the crowd at the annual Wine, Women & Shoes fundraiser in Boise for the Idaho Youth Ranch.
The swag was part of a $5,000 sponsorship package purchased by Icon that also included a full-page ad in the event program, five VIP tickets and the inclusion of the credit union logo in e-blasts and on the event website. Everyone benefited under the arrangement — the ranch got money for its services for at-risk youth and families; the credit union promoted itself to 600 attendees and numerous people online while helping out a nonprofit; and, women with tired feet got to wear comfortable footwear on their way home.
“All organizations want to be philanthropic,” says Stacey Moody, director of corporate sponsorship and events for the Idaho Youth Ranch, which provides programs and services for at-risk children and their families. “It’s an extra advantage to help them promote their business while giving back.”
The Idaho Youth Ranch holds two Wine Women & Shoes fundraisers a year, one in Boise and the other in Coeur d’Alene. Moody creates packages to represent companies, which can pick what works best for them, such as buying a table at an event or providing swag. She does not limit her sponsors to a single industry.
Moody has been an ambassador with the Boise Chamber of Commerce for the past 10 years, and that has helped her develop contacts who help arrange meetings with potential sponsors.
“It’s all based on relationships,” Moody says. One of those relationships was with Icon. Amy Rovig, the director of marketing, says in an email that the credit union became a sponsor because the Youth Ranch’s mission to improve children’s quality of life aligns with Icon’s values — and being the flip flop sponsor was a fun way to contribute.
“Instead of simply donating $5,000 to the Idaho Youth Ranch, we were a part of their main fundraiser and made the opportunity mutually beneficial to both parties,” she says. Because the event draws several women of influence in the Treasure Valley area, it truly hits the mark in terms of branding, business connection opportunities and media exposure.”