It’s the question that plagues countless dedicated entrepreneurs: Now that I have set up my company, have an excellent suite of products and a small business credit card processing system that will make payments seamless, how do I spread the word about all that I have to offer?
Of course, conventional techniques such as word of mouth, print ads and online marketing are obvious methods. But don’t overlook enlisting the aid of another company to help you get the word out about your merchandise.
The concept isn’t as revolutionary as it may at first seem. Visit any sporting goods store, for instance, and you will see an array of athletic shoes endorsed by the most popular sports figures of the day. These shoes may be purchased partly because of their high quality or appearance, but it’s no secret that the celebrity name and all that goes with it is the real catalyst for soaring sales. That is true, you might be saying, but can a small business owner use the same platform?
One Hand Washes the Other
In business, relationships are symbiotic. You sell merchandise to make a profit and perhaps to live out your passion; your customers buy what you are offering because it fills a need or a want.
In the same way, businesses often collaborate to their mutual advantage. In essence, that is what sponsorship is all about. It can take many forms:
Developing a constantly evolving list of contacts gives you the opportunity to network with your colleagues and share the exciting news about the products you have to offer. By the same token, you can learn about what their customers want and tailor your offerings accordingly. The result can be a partnership in which both of you benefit.
If your products appeal to a specific customer base that already shops at your partner company, you could become a paid spokesperson. By virtue of your services, you can pique patrons’ interest in new products while acting as an expert on your niche subject. Your partner company gets extra business; you gain a boost in your reputation and probably a good deal of word-of-mouth and social media attention.
Your partner company can act as your patron. Let’s say you have written a book that you want to sell. Unless you work hard to get the word out, the public will probably never even know it exists. At the same time, strategies such as a book tour can be time-consuming and costly. Why not enlist a partner company to shoulder some of the financial burden and perhaps even do some of the promoting? In the end, your masterpiece gets the exposure it needs, you don’t have to do all of the work or foot the bill and your partner company gets added exposure and the privilege of attaching their name to your rising star.
How to Make Sponsorship Work for You
Now that you know a little about sponsorship, you are probably wondering how you can make it happen. There are several strategies that can help you achieve this goal:
- Know your customers and their needs. Once you do this, research companies that also cater to that group. Niche magazines and industry publications can be excellent sources for companies and corporations. Make a list and then begin contacting them to gauge their interest in sponsoring you.
- Make it worth your potential sponsor’s while. Give prospects the option to sponsor some of your blog posts, give away their products to your customers, advertise and even run events. If you engage them according to their needs and priorities, you can begin to nurture an on-going relationship that will be mutually beneficial for the long haul.
- Write a thoughtful, well-organized proposal that describes your business and explains why it will be beneficial for the other company to sponsor you. Be sure to illustrate how what you do makes a positive impact on people’s lives and how it will help your potential sponsor to further their mission as well. Be sure to be specific about who your customers are and how this relationship will also help them get the products and services they need.
- Don’t undersell yourself. Never forget that the company you are seeking as a sponsor is benefiting from the relationship as much as you are. If they happen to have big corporate pockets, don’t be shy about asking for a generous sponsorship – as long as it is backed by a solid proposal.
- Don’t drop the ball. After you have gone through the considerable time and effort to write an organized and compelling proposal, the ball is in the other company’s court. Even so, don’t be shy about following through if you don’t get an answer within a reasonable period of time. A polite phone call or email will let your contact know that you remain committed to the partnership and will keep your proposal from getting lost in the shuffle.
Sponsorship can be a win-win for everyone involved, boosting your product sales while simultaneously enabling your partner company to reach your valuable customer base. You might also decide to be a sponsor in your own right to local sports teams or charity events.
No matter how you slice it, a symbiotic sponsorship relationship can boost your product sales while increasing your standing in the community. Who knows, your little business might become a household name someday thanks to the benefits of sponsorship.