Sports Sponsorships 101

Baseball season is just around the corner, and (unless you’re a Fortune 500 company) chances are they didn’t name the stadium after you.

But no matter what size your business, you’ve likely been approached by your local team to buy tickets, signage, bring a group to a game, or have your name and logo attached to something?

First consider the questions you ask with any marketing decision: does my investment in sports advertising pay itself back in goodwill or advertising ROI? And does my association with this team reflect positively in the community? Although sports sponsorships are often emotional decisions, you should still choose them using the same principles you use for your other marketing.

Stadium Signs
The most common way to have a presence in the stadium is by having stadium signage. These can come in the form of hockey boards, outfield fence signs, your logo on the scoreboards, or signs that line the concourse.

When considering advertising via a stadium sign, you should consider the cost vs. how many people will actually be IN the stadium. There aren’t any set $/person guidelines, but use the same metrics you behold for print or outdoor advertising. Keep in mind two things: 1)sports venues almost always inflate their attendance figures, and 2)those that are in the stadium are somewhat of a “captive” audience, i.e. they will be sitting in the same spot for about three hours, with lots of little breaks.

Other things to consider:
• Traffic flow. Who will see your sign, and when? How many views/game might you get?
• Visibility. Can your sign be seen from every seat?
• Important: make sure you’re following the same guidelines for viewing from a distance that you do for outdoor advertising—I’ve seen far too many print ads that became unreadable stadium signs.
• Don’t use a white background. Too many do, and colors are much more noticeable.
• Lit signs are always better. Keep in mind how many events are held at night.
• Less is more. Signs are a major revenue source for stadiums…so they tend to want to throw up way too many. The more signs, the less chance yours has of making an impression.

Game Sponsorships
Sponsoring a night at the ballpark can be a great way to show that your business supports the community. Frequently game sponsorships include group tickets, PA-system mentions during the game, your logo up on the video board, and mentions for the TV and radio advertising for that game.

Always look for these to be included:
• Get a weekend night, or a night they will guarantee the stadium will be full. You want the most “bang for your buck”…and a Tuesday night, half-empty stadium pales in comparison to a Friday night when the Lakers are in town.
• Lots of mentions, both in the stadium and through the media advertising for that game.
• If possible, some tie-in with your business will make the night more memorable. “Our CEO Bobblehead Night” might not be the answer, but think about giveaway items or promotions during the game that will make people remember your name. Plus, the right giveaway item will be kept and used for years…adding to the value of the night.
• Is anything offered if the game is adversely affected by weather?

Advertising with your local team is a great way to show that you are part of the community, and (like your customers) show you root for the hometown club. Done correctly, you’ll get a nice bump in goodwill and recognition. Done incorrectly, it’s an expensive swing-and-a-miss.

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