Turning to sponsorship as a way to bring more dollars into your athletic program requires careful preparation and a lot of follow through. As a sports administrator, knowing the best strategy to have positive interactions with local businesses to gain sponsorship is important. It’s never as simple as putting your program out there and sharing the benefits of youth sports, although those are important elements. This list includes some of the best ways to make your sports program attractive for potential sponsors.

1. Create a strategy that makes an impact

Having a plan before reaching out to potential sponsors is a must. Create a strategy that includes the support of everyone already involved in your sports program, from parents to athletes to current sponsors and supporters. Clearly articulate the needs of your sports program and show what you have to offer local businesses when they work with you. Making sure you’re able to tell the story of your sports program and share the impact it’s already having on local youth is only one component of convincing businesses to consider sponsorship. You also have to demonstrate what they’ll get out of the deal through the access to their target audience as well as increased sales potential. 

2. Highlight the benefits

When preparing to approach organizations to serve as potential sponsors, you need to have data that’s going to prove why sponsorship is a wise business move. If possible, pull any existing information you already have from current or previous sponsors in these key areas:

  • Enhanced brand image
  • Increased sales
  • Improved brand awareness

If this is your first time looking for sponsorship, then include more general information about these three key areas where sponsors typically see results when supporting a local sports team or athletic program. There is a lot of data out there you can use for emphasis.

3. Argue the effectiveness with data

Data always makes an impact, so collect all the numbers you can, especially when they help make a business aware of the reach their ads will have through your athletic program. Share total numbers of the kids in your sports program along with the number of games in your stadium or on your fields per week within a single season. Deliver averages on crowd size within the stands for each of these games as well. Anything that demonstrates the number of eyes that will see or hear their advertising helps motivate a business to consider sponsorship.

4. Talk to existing sponsors

Checking in with sponsors you already have is yet another way to collect usable data. See if they’ve noticed any spikes in sales, foot traffic, or anything else they can track back to their sponsorship. Ask if you can use that information to share with other potential sponsors. If there’s no real data, ask if the existing sponsor is willing to write a testimonial about their sponsorship experience. When businesses can hear from other people like them, it helps validate what you’ve already told them.

5. Offer variety 

Working into your strategy different levels or packages of sponsorship, can immediately make sponsorship more attractive for local businesses. Packaging your offers, “makes it easy for potential sponsors to choose what makes the most sense for their budget, business goals and time,” says Nick Schäferhoff from ThemeBoy. It enables you to attract local sponsors who may not have the same amount of advertising dollars to contribute as a larger organization. Creating options that cater to everyone’s budget makes sponsorship more inclusive and gives you a wider range of businesses you can approach.

6. Give an incentive

Even with package options for sponsorship, a business may feel they deserve a little something extra. Plan ahead for this and offer an incentive for committing to sponsorship at a certain level or within a certain timeframe. You can offer them a mention via social media or an ad on your website; options that are easy to incorporate with little time and cost. Throwing in a little extra, free advertising adds value for the business and enables you to demonstrate your commitment to working with them as a partner.

7. Reach out to the right businesses

While any organization is really a potential sponsor for an athletic program, there are going to be local businesses that are easier to attract. Prioritize who you reach out to by looking at your audience. To appeal to the kids, and their parents, target fast food places, pizza restaurants, or sporting goods stores. Hit parents and other adult spectators directly through advertising for coffee shops, hardware stores or gardening shops. Use your own demographics of parents and athletes to attract sponsors by showing them you already have their target audience captivated for the length of a game or team practice. “Whether they’ve sponsored an event before or not, it’s still up to you to convince them that the investment will pay off no matter what,” says Dan McCarthy from socialtables.

8. Target those already vested in athletics

Notice a business sponsoring a local athletic team that’s not a part of your sports program? They may want to increase their advertising in athletics with something a little more permanent and put up a banner on your field. 

Does a local business support athletics in a neighboring town? Maybe they want to extend their reach to your community. 

If a business is already advertising through amateur sports, they already understand the benefits and could be an easy target for additional sponsorship. Use their existing interest to work in your favor when you approach them.

9. Talk to the right people

Once you decide which businesses to approach, go straight to the owner to discuss the possibility of sponsorship. Don’t waste time pitching to a manager who will have to float it up the chain of command, diluting your message as they go like a game of telephone. For larger organizations, target the group that handles brand management or public relations. If you have a direct contact at a company already, reach out to them and get a name of who’s most likely to be your ‘yes’ person.

10. Follow up

Checking in just once is never enough to get a commitment for sponsorship. Follow up without being too aggressive. After your initial visit, send a thank you email that asks if they have additional questions to keep the conversation going. If there’s still no word after that, set up a regular communication schedule until you get a definitive yes or no. Don’t be afraid to call or pop back in for a second visit, especially if you’re running a deal for advertising space or get new, relevant data you want to share.

Don’t be afraid to get a little extra help with sponsorship

You’ll most likely already know what businesses are out there within your local community who have sponsorship potential, but that’s a limited area of opportunity. Now that you’re prepared to interact with possible sponsors, consider going a little further away. Broaden your reach by using digital tools and online services to connect with even more potential sponsors.

Services like smashAdz allow you to take your search for sponsorship nationwide by connecting you with larger companies looking to reach their target audience on a more local level. To learn more about how smashAdz can work with you to support your sponsorship efforts, contact us today.


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