You’ve invested in a new sponsorship arrangement and hopefully agreed a nice package of opportunities but how can you maximise these opportunities and be sure to get the most of your sponsorship without adding more money?
I’m sharing some low-cost creative ways to maximise your event sponsorship.
Firstly, in this digital age, you should take time to plan a really strong social media campaign – this needs to go out before the event, during the event and after the event.
Encourage your friends, family and followers to get onboard to support the sponsorship and share any content you post on their social media pages.
Ensure that your sponsored riders, brand ambassadors and influencers share your content too. Make it easy for them… provide them with easy-to-share content that they can add a personal comment to, and then promote to their friends and followers.
It’s worth making sure the company running the event is active on social media and will help to promote your business by creating new posts or retweeting, reposting and sharing your content.
It’s important for the event or organisation that you are sponsoring, to be actively involved in your social campaigns. They will have different followers and fans to you and often new audiences. Take advantage of this as a low-cost way of expanding your social reach.
Before the event
Run a competition on social media to boost your following and invite new people to your business page. This could be to win tickets to the event or create a package of products and a VIP day out to the event. This not only promotes your company but it promotes the event itself. It’s worth spending a small amount on social media advertising for this. It’s likely to well received and a great way to grow your following.
If you are attending the event yourself and have a trade stand presence, encourage new customers, new fans and followers to come and visit you.
You will need to give them a reason to come and see you though. It could be a prize draw, a competition on the stand, a giveaway or a rider ‘meet and greet’. Send out newsletters to your followers before the event and post regularly on all your social channels.
Why not use the event to launch a product or service?
If it’s a product new to the market, create a buzz and launch your product from your stand at the event. Plan it well in advance to make it the first time for people to see this product OR the first time for them to order this product OR the first time for customers to purchase your new product at the event.
On event, make your stand attractive, give people a reason to stop and look on your stand. Don’t make the mistake of just blending in with other trade stands. Here’s where the creativity really needs to be tapped into.
A great trade stand doesn’t have to be expensive, just well thought out and most importantly, well branded.
And, ensure that your staff are well branded and smartly dressed too, not forgetting a friendly smile! Nobody will stop on an empty stand when your staff are sitting chatting at the back. Make it look inviting!
Build your customer contacts
A really great marketing tool is your email database and in these days of GDPR it’s very difficult to increase that list without paid promotion. Use your sponsorship opportunity to gather data and email addresses of new potential customers.
So, this could be an on-event competition where they come to your stand and physically fill in an entry form and leave it with you. Ask them to enter the competition and sign up to your newsletter. Encourage them to sign up for your newsletter by sharing with them what they are signing up to, ie. be the first to see our new products, hear our latest news or promote seasonal offers before they go out to the general public.
Or, you could use your sponsorship opportunity to run an online competition where it takes people to a landing page on your website where you can safely collect their data and sign up for your newsletter. Be sure to have a double opt into your email list so that there is an audit trail of where, when and how they signed up for your newsletter, giving you permission to contact them for marketing purposes.
Additionally, when adding these new people to your database newsletter list be sure to keep them separate. Create a separate audience, a separate group to send emails to. They perhaps won’t want to get the same content that the people who have been on your newsletter list for the past 3 or 4 years get.
Use the post-event opportunity to convert contacts into customers
Create a new individual campaign going to them over a period of days and weeks, because ultimately you want to use this opportunity to convert them into customers. Start off giving them some nice free useful information, educational content, behind the scenes look at your company and your products. Things that they may not see ordinarily. Keep nurturing them and then drip feed your products and reason to purchase into that mix of content to encourage them to convert from a follower into a paying customer.
Once the event is over and your competition is closed, you’re ready to announce the winner so use this opportunity again to shout about it. Shout about it on your social media, shout about it on your website. Its great content, connected to your sponsorship and repurposing this great content is a valuable way to keep your brand message alive.
Using sponsorship to connect to a new audience
So the event you are sponsoring is likely to be a competition. Putting aside high profile competitions, you will have a number of different audiences or customer profiles surrounding that event.
You will have;
- the spectators
- the competitors
- the family, friends, and supporters of the competitors
These are different audiences but the competitors themselves are actually the really hot targets for you, especially at the unaffiliated levels. They are buying products, they are out competing, they are investing in their discipline, they are investing in equestrian sport and ultimately spending money on their horses. They are likely to be really good target customers for you so a really cost-effective way to connect with them is including marketing material in a rider pack.
Not every event gives out a rider pack so if they don’t, why not create your own goody bag? This could include a small brochure or your latest product catalogue, a personalised letter telling them a little more about your company, who you are and ways to connect.
And then include a voucher, a coupon with a code or money off, a discount to purchase your products or connect to you with a rider reward of some sort. Consider, one of these riders could be your next brand ambassador.
There are many creative ways to reach these riders and competitors, depending on the discipline and the level. No matter what the level, everybody is open to a freebie!
Depending on your product, think about creative ways to promote that product during the event. It could be a free hat check or an upgrade to a newer product. You could you offer a free trial or a loan, a demonstration or donate product samples to the riders themselves.
This should please the event organisers too as if this organised in advance and promoted well, it will add value to the event itself.
Using your sponsored riders
Another way to maximise your event sponsorship is to get one of your sponsored riders to come a give a short talk, before or during or after the event if there is time, a ‘meet and greet’. Either they can come to your stand or somewhere on event. If it’s cross country, why not meet somewhere on the course, or for show jumping maybe somewhere around the showground or near a fence. Somewhere nice and personal where people can ask questions.
If it’s a high profile rider, from experience, people suddenly become very shy and don’t want to ask questions in front of other people so have few questions pre-planned to get the ball rolling. This then becomes a great opportunity to film. Either it can go out live on Facebook or Instagram and then it can be repurposed again and again for months to come. Even the following year.
Often these informal and comfortable meetups are the best content. People are seeing the real rider and the real company up close and personal.
If that’s not possible, consider getting one of your riders to film some tips on video about the event, or planning for the event. You can post this as video but also write it up as a blog post. All great unique content to share. It could be how did they prepare for the event, how did they get there or qualify, what’s the best thing they like most about the event, do they get nervous, what are their ‘secret weapons’, what would they not leave home without.
There are lots of questions to ask so get creative! And remember these could be broken down to post individually or in small groups to social media before, during and after the event.
Get social during the event
Another great way is to use the audience on event and the spectators to help boost your following on social media. Come up with a creative way that they could post their own content and tag your company.
It could be friends and followers of competitors, something they should look out for on event. Really get them involved and connecting with you. It could be the best food shopping opportunities or the best-dressed rider, cutest dog or something around the weather, the sunniest, windiest or the wettest, muddiest picture. You can then create your own hashtag for the campaign. This works really well if it’s a 2 or 3-day show and then run as a competition to win a prize.
Prizes and branded merchandise
When agreeing your sponsorship for competitive events make sure there are opportunities for branded rosettes, rugs and opportunities to give products as prizes to the riders or a saddlecloth, a jacket or baseball cap. Something branded with your company logo that other people will see.
Think of your sponsorship arrangement as a privilege, a privilege that other companies haven’t got. Be proud and spread the word about it, using the opportunity to connect to all. There are many different audiences on event who could become your customer – the competitors, the supporters, the spectators and the event organisers themselves. And don’t forget the volunteer helpers, many of whom are horse owners themselves. These are all people who are passionate about horses and grateful for your sponsorship support.
Finally, remember to use the opportunity to connect with your outlying spectators, the ones who follow you on social media or your newsletter audience who didn’t make it to the event but want to know everything that went on. Can you follow up with the similar benefits and advantages that they missed out on? Don’t let your content stop just because the event finished, another way to squeeze the most of your sponsorship opportunity.
If you would like help implementing any or all of these ideas, please get in touch, I’m ready to help you!