It might seem like everyone wants your sponsorship support, from an employee’s youth sports team to a charity group’s upcoming event.
When done well, sponsorships can be a low-cost, distinctive way to activate your message in the community and increase media exposure. By supporting local initiatives, sponsorships can also help improve loyalty with current and future patients and employees.
Sponsorships can be a sticky subject though, especially if your CEO is questioning the PR value, yet you feel obligated to say yes. Fortunately, sponsorship marketing can be a worthwhile investment. All it takes is a competitive approach and a well-defined process.
Here are five tips to make sponsorships work:
Start with a plan. Develop an organizational policy on sponsorships – such as requiring that sponsorships have a health message or benefit – and use a scoring tool to make the process objective. For example, you might give more points to a speaking engagement and fewer points to commemorative advertising.
Assign an owner. For logistical reasons and to secure return on investment, designate one person or department to own sponsorships. Marketing and public relations should be well equipped to do so. They can manage the message, leverage the sponsorship across other marketing initiatives and communication channels, and ensure that those dollars are equally distributed and tracked.
Stick to a budget. Work with administration and finance to carve out dollars dedicated to sponsorships. Set the budget for contractual commitments and reserve discretionary dollars for special events. Consider splitting your budget between new and repeat sponsorships to expand your local reach year-after-year.
Define the target market. A sponsorship marketing strategy will only be successful if it is targeted appropriately. To define your audience, identify your current customers and their common factors. If you serve a farming community, for instance, promote your expertise by supporting local FFA groups. If there’s a large football following in your town, sponsor the local stadium with ads featuring your orthopedic services.
Get creative. When an organization asks you to sponsor an event, ask them for unique opportunities. For example, instead of featuring your logo on a banner at a baseball field, negotiate for one of your physicians to become the team doctor. By promoting your support as the “Official Health Care Provider of Team X,” you’ll create a memorable partnership that showcases your organization’s true value.