Businesses Should Sponsor
Five reasons why your small business should sponsor local sports teams and people that need financial backing to achieve their goals.
Our company has sponsored a number of sports teams and individuals, mainly in football, cricket, and motor racing. Currently, our logo is on Long Lane JFC Under 8’s Pumas’ home kit for season 2023/24 and splashed on the side of a racing car driven by a young lady. It’s the second time we’ve supported a football team and racer, and we’ve also sponsored the senior teams of a cricket club. The latter was our single biggest investment in a sponsorship package in our nine-year history.
The journey we’ve taken with all of these clubs and people—a common thread is youthful sportspeople to whom financial support has an immediate impact—has taught us a lot about giving commercial backing and the many ways that it can embolden a business.
Here are five reasons why you should look at sponsorship opportunities—and return on investment is last:
- Winning feeling
It looks good to be supportive.
Reality is, without outside backing, many sporting or leisure endeavours are simply not possible. It takes more than annual subscriptions, fundraising, and donations to fund any activity these days. Some sports or pastimes are cheaper than others; running requires a pair of shoes, but motorsports demand a vehicle, tyres, safety equipment, fuel, transportation, and more, even to make the start line.
Therefore, for a business to be able to provide some of what it takes, and then be associated with positive results, presents that company in a positive light. Sometimes, a few hundred or thousand pounds can be the difference between a side honouring fixtures, a young team having a warm-up top, or a driver being competitive in a big race.
When other backers, family, players, supporters, etc., ask where funding came from, it benefits a business when the grateful recipients point to them.
Sponsorship opens doors to networking and social activity, which, in turn, can lead to business.
We’ve watched cricket matches, football tournaments, and been trackside to see the logo whizz by on the passenger door of a car. On each occasion, we’ve met new people, all of whom have asked what the business does and how the commercial partnership in evidence is going. Even if these events don’t lead directly to the bottom line, they’re incredibly enjoyable and associate the brand with something different to the daily grind.
It proves to be a conversation starter when you least expect it too. When we sponsored the cricket team, it captured the imagination of our American friends and clients. Cricket is a sport that perplexes many who don’t play it—a five-day game can end in a draw—so the intrigue generated lots of interest in the business. We even got a number of requests from people to buy Bexleyheath Cricket Club shirts, and we got sent pictures of people wearing them on holidays and business trips. Closer to home, people would often ask, ‘How’s that cricket team getting on? I’m going to look out for their results’.
You can’t beat a winning feeling—in sport, life, health, business, wherever.
Supporting a team or individual in their efforts to win matches or races, or deliver exercise and opportunity to the community, makes you feel good. We’ve rebutted many cynical suggestions that sponsorship is a waste of money.
’Nobody is going to see that logo and call you,’ a competitor might say, largely in fear that they just might.
Regardless, to be responsible for a seven-year-old winning players’ player of the season, see a young lady standing on top of a podium, or witness a flying catch by a colt called into the cricket club’s first team, is tremendously rewarding.
As we’ve explored, people asking for sponsorship are rarely doing so because they’re greedy or they want to boost their bank accounts; they’re looking for money that can be the difference between participating or competing and not. To be the thing that keeps them on the pitch, or the wheels turning, is uplifting and feels every bit as good as a new client.
Sponsorship transcends an industry.
Businesses tend to operate in bubbles; they discover where their customers hang out and they live in that space. There’s nothing wrong with that—it makes perfect sense—but it does mean that opportunities can become limited. For example, we largely serve industrial manufacturers and suppliers; we spend a lot of time at trade shows and events frequented by like-minded people. It means that there is little opportunity to explore our local communities and look at what else might be out there.
Sponsorship changes that, largely because those looking for such backing are likely part of a different community. We’ve met people through football, cricket, and motor racing that would never turn up at a lifting equipment or material handling event. In turn, they’ve introduced us to local business groups and we’ve presented our services in a way we might not have thought about before. Relative to the amount it has cost, the opportunities have been great.
I’ve left ROI until the end because, honestly, I would treat this as the least important component of sponsorship.
Ok, if you’re a big company looking at a five- or six-figure expense, of course you’ll want to do your due diligence. However, if it’s £250 to buy some equipment for a local sports team, or £500 for some spare tyres, it really isn’t necessary to demand twice that back in return, mainly because of all the other benefits we’ve looked at above.
That said, there is ROI to be gained, even if it might not be a phone call from someone that has seen the logo on a shirt or car. That does happen but it should be treated as a bonus.
All things considered, Image; Conversation; Winning feeling; Community; and ROI are all good reasons to sponsor local sports teams and people that need financial backing to achieve their goals.
How to find opportunities
We’ve always found sponsorship opportunities somewhat by accident. We’ve never posted on social media saying we’re looking to support anyone in particular, but through contacts, friends, and family, we’ve always been made aware of certain clubs or deserving people that we’re interested in supporting.
However, there are places you can look, and many people don’t think to ask. Next time you’re in a conversation about someone’s sports club or hobby, take an opportunity to ask if they would benefit from some commercial support. It might be the start of a winning partnership.
Let us know who you support and we’ll follow your journey together.
Director, Bridger Howes Limited