Have you ever wondered just why Nike is investing so heavily into golf champion Rory McIlroy? Or how basketball giant Kobe Bryant or NHL legend Sidney Crosby make their millions?
The answer is simple: sports sponsorship.
Sports sponsorships is big business. And with sports increasingly in the media spotlight (and in our lives), more is being invested every year: US companies are now spending up to $20 billion, according to McKinsey & Company.
There’s no doubt that sports sponsorship is effective and a key element in any marketing strategy. But you don’t have to be a large multinational to get in on the benefits of grassroots sports sponsorship: family and small businesses can profit, too.
Champions for Life: the ROIs of Sports Sponsorship
There are many reasons why grassroots sports sponsorship is a win-win for the athlete or team, the sports and the company. By nature, sports sponsorship is an authentic way of creating a personal relationship with consumers by showing that you care about the sports, the team, and the community.
Here are a few more benefits of sports sponsorship and advertising:
1. Differentiating yourself
There are more advertising opportunities than you can shake a stick at. But how many of those will cut through the noise by bringing us close to something we feel strongly about: our local sports teams and the sports we love? Sports sponsorship sends a message that you care about what the fans care about – and that can be an incredible force. You’re creating a relationship with consumers, not just advertising to them.
Marketing is about knowing your audience, and you already have a pretty good idea of who’s seeing your messages at sports games and venues: young people, their families and friends, and by extension, the audience of any media covering sports events. Best of all, they’re a captive audience, and will be seeing those messages repeatedly. You’ll also reach rival teams that come to play the local teams –doubling your exposure with a brand new audience at every game.
Research shows that people respond very positively to sponsors and are more receptive to advertising at sports events. Sports families realize that your role as a sponsor is important, and are more likely to support you, in turn, over a competitor.
4. Brand awareness
Sports sponsorship is a great way to increase brand awareness, especially considering that brand strength is a contributing factor for 60-80% of overall sales. It can improve your company image and prestige while associating your brand to events that your target market finds attractive.
Sports sponsorship has always had potential to create long-term positive partnerships between the brand and the sports. It’s more about quality over quantity, but most of all it’s about loyalty. Fans are loyal to their teams, and athletes and sports families have a tendency to be loyal to their sponsors. Over time, you’ll eventually be considered almost as part of the team. That’s a strong emotional commitment.
All brands in all categories, regardless of size, can sponsor sports. You need to find an appropriate team or sports venue, research the opportunity, and develop a strategy that will tap into the strong emotions that sports create.
7. Social responsibility
Let’s not forget that by sponsoring something as important as sports, you’re contributing very positively to the community, keeping kids involved in healthy activities and helping to build strong neighbourhoods.
And that’s something to be proud about!