By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc.
Sports sponsorships are terrific ways to build your brand through local store marketing, because they are so flexible in nature.
Creating and fostering a relationship with a local team, while customizing your sponsorship to suit your needs, can catapult your brand further than simply advertising. In fact, taking it a step further by developing sports sponsorships with your vendors as well as a local minor league sports team, is an excellent strategy to increase your exposure, generate sales, as well as stretch your advertising dollars.
Most sports teams—especially the smaller, local teams—will have a variety of sponsorship packages that are available. Depending on your budget, it can determine the extent of your sponsorship. Partnering with one of your vendors is a terrific way to help offset some of your sponsorship cost while developing an enticing promotion to drive store sales. Once you have established your sports sponsorship with your local team, you can offer part of this sponsorship to one of your vendors.
Make A Community Partnership: The great part about sports sponsorships is that you are not only benefiting your business, but you are benefiting a local team. Most minor league teams have a value-driven customer base and these teams want to get more people to their games. Often teams offer ticket vouchers as part of their sponsorship participation. Some of these ticket vouchers could be two-for-one ticket vouchers–with a ticket value of $10 or $16, as an example. Now imagine a co-sponsoring coffee vendor participating in a promotion at your store where a customer purchases a 69-cent cup of coffee and the customer receives a ticket voucher worth $16–not a bad deal for 69 cents! The opportunity to drive sales with such an over-the-top offer is significant.
Create A Win-Win-Win: All parties win in the above scenario — the team increases game attendance; your vendor sells more product; and your store has a point of differentiation from your competition—and the best part of all is that your sports sponsorship is driving sales for your store. In addition, vendors have access to a number of third-party sponsorships that are vast opportunities for you to tap into. Combine an attractive price point coupled with a “money can’t buy prize” (i.e., throw out the first pitch) and this will have critical appeal for your customers.
Tap The Local: Local teams such as school sports teams or minor league teams are anxious for partnerships with retailers. Utilize your customer traffic to help drive game ticket sales in exchange for group sales and advertising signage for your store. The sponsorship package could include arena signage, local cable television ads, radio spots, promotional packages, tickets, and on-field logos.
Provide Added-Value: BOGO (Buy One, Get One) team tickets with a product purchase, creates a perceived and real value with the customer compared to your competition. In addition, you create a greater awareness of your ongoing community support within your three-mile trade area. Have the team track redemptions of the BOGO tickets, so you can gauge customer acceptance of your sports sponsorship and its impact.
Grow Your Business: Once your relationship has been established with a sports team, work with them to expand your opportunity for group sales. Every team will have VIP fundraiser nights, team parties, tailgate events, etc., that enable your store to be the “product-of-choice” at each of these functions.
Make A Plan: Contact every minor league, college, or high school team in your three-mile trade area and offer a trade-out sponsorship to the teams you select (NOTE: Major league teams will not have much interest in this). Negotiate a trade proposal that would include handing out BOGO ticket offers for the team to your customers in exchange for store signage and group sales opportunities at the arena/stadium. Minor league teams are interested in driving fans to their games–you need to position your store as a great pipeline for potential attendees.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.