Submitted by: Carl Ewald, Executive Director, ODDyssey Half Marathon

Most corporations, once they attain a high level of visibility, are inundated with sponsorship requests from organizations as varied as the local PTA to a NFL football team.  Sponsorships, also known as event marketing, are the fastest growing segment of marketing in the world.  But, most corporations know little about how to make sponsorships work for them. 

Sponsorship is clearly working for savvy corporations. According to a study commissioned by John Hancock Financial Services, sixty-four percent of the respondents said sponsorship of a local event would make them think more favorably of a company. In a survey of NASCAR fans, 72 percent reported they would “almost always” or “frequently” choose the brand they associate with NASCAR over an equally priced one, according to Newport, R.I.-based Performance Research.

Now your company too can realize a return on investment with sponsorships by following three steps. 

Ask “Why should I sponsor?”

Obviously this may be the first question you ask a potential partner. Creative properties should be prepared to present you with compelling data and a vision that make it clear to you that this is a sound opportunity for your company.  But, the first key to a successful sponsorship is that you form clear goals. 

Goals can range from branding to generating sales or rewarding employees.  Some of the common goals companies have for sponsorship marketing are:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Promote brand loyalty
  • Showcase product attributes 
  • Increase traffic
  • Enforce image
  • Promote social responsibility and community image
  • Entertain clients
  • Generate merchandising opportunities 
  • Once you have identified your goals, now you have to strategize on how to meet them

Activate your Sponsorship

The next step is activation.  Activation is how you use a sponsorship to meet your marketing goals.   Once you identify your goals, you need to then design ways to use the sponsorship to meet your goals. Sponsorship does not end with handing over a check to the company.  Savvy companies see that as just the beginning. 

For example, The Shops at Liberty Place has a goal of driving more traffic into their center.  Therefore, it is using its sponsorship of the ODDyssey Half Marathon to bring in more customers by hosting the expo and packet pick up for the runners.  This will bring thousands of runners into the shops over two days.

Likewise, Subway has used its sponsorship of the New York Marathon to promote its image as the healthy alternative to fast food with a nationwide radio and television campaign. Each company identified its marketing goals and then built a program around its sponsorship to meet that goal.

Review your Results

Once you have finished a sponsorship, now you have to review the results. Did you meet your goals? Did you realize a return on your sponsorship?  How can you improve your results next time?

Carl Ewald is the Executive Director of the ODDyssey Half Marathon in