When it comes to running a youth sports program what can make or break you is having a successful sponsorship program. Every program needs an additional stream of revenue beyond the contributions and payments made by parents. How does one start and maintain a successful sponsorship program? There are a few key factors to developing and maintaining a successful sponsorship program.
Who to target?
When I discuss these types of programs with my customers I like to get them to think about their target audience; the spectators and parents, and how they can gain the most impressions at my program. Once they’re in their shoes it’s easier for them to determine which businesses to target.
- Local Restaurants- After a long day at work followed by a long wait in the car at the game or practice the last thing parents feel like is going home and making dinner. I typically tell the league/association to target the local pizza, taco, burger and other kid friendly restaurants.
- Services Industry – local accountants, lawyers and service businesses.
- Car dealerships – community sponsorship is appealing to potential customers.
- Parents –that own their own business or are C-level executives at their companies take a lot of pride in seeing their brand on their kids and are more than willing to buy the most sponsorships.
What to use?
Whenever I visit a complex I typically see one of two things, no sponsorship signs, or sponsorship signs in a place that they are not able to be seen all the time and especially during the game. Clubs with a sponsorship program are displaying their sponsors on a fence where the banners are put up once a season and when the parents are at the fields they either are standing in front of the signs so no one can see them or the signs are on the outside of the perimeter fence so they’re not gaining any impressions. They are typically the old style eyeletted vinyl banners that cost $50-$100 each and after about a month they look like they have melted and they are sagging on the fence. I ask the customer if they think this is how their sponsor wants their brand to be portrayed and also if it’s how they want their brand to be portrayed. You can pay roughly the same amount, maybe a little more and get something that looks much better.
Where do I use them?
We like to recommend our customers get the best signs that give the most impressions for their sponsors. We typically recommend the Horizontal A-Frame to start out. It is double sided, very visible, and it can be moved around to different places so that there are lots of impressions. The best place to put them is in high traffic areas where people are going to walk by each side or at least one side. They are also extremely durable and safe to use on sidelines. For some customers, this product gives their facility more of the professional look they are going for.
What can I put on the sign for the sponsor?
The two most important things to the sponsor is return on investment and maximizing impressions. There are a few ways you want to be able to demonstrate that to your sponsors:
- We can print any extra text, images, and logos on our signs. That includes social media Icons. B2C businesses are looking to increase their social media presence through increased likes and consumer interaction. Sponsors can promote their businesses through sharing club events and their sponsorship activities.
- Discount codes – “Get 10% off on your next visit if you show us an image of our banner” or ‘Quote promo code XXXX and receive 10% off your next meal’ is a great way to demonstrate return on investment.
- Website and phone number – It is important that potential customers can see how to reach your sponsors so make sure these details are easily visible.
How long to commit to a sponsor?
It is always best to get a commitment from a sponsor for the calendar year or for the season. You are giving them a definitive time that you are goingto display their brand with a known quantity of traffic at your facility. At the end of the commitment you can review the return on investment and implement any tweaks for the new season. Clubs and associations that are able to demonstrate value to sponsors have a much higher retention rate as well and at the same time are more likely to attract new sponsors.
How much do you charge?
The simple answer to this is you charge what the market will support as long as it makes money for the club. Most clubs we work with charge a minimum of $500. This makes them around $350 per sign that they can apply their programming activities. We have some customers charging $1000 or more per sign but it all depends on market dictates, e.g. if there is an oversubscription of sponsors or club performance allows them to charge more. There is the option to charge sponsors based on the levels of sponsorship, where they get a bigger sign in a more prominent area depending on the tier they’ve bought into. You may also have a situation where there’s a main sponsor who sponsors kit and also wants the most prominent positioning at the facility and the would obviously come at a premium.