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Mullins’ guide to grassroots sport sponsorship – Part 1 – adding value for sponsors

Article featured in Bowls Queensland's June edition of the Queensland Bowler.

Sponsorship is a vital source of revenue for all sporting organisations. In these difficult times it is especially important that clubs, competition organisers and governing bodies are able to obtain maximum value from sponsorship arrangements, which you can do by re-thinking the traditional approach of offering local businesses the opportunity to put their sign on your fence or their logo on your beer coasters.

Across the next two articles I will offer some guidance to help you do just that. In this Part One I will provide strategies to help your club or organisation to attract and retain sponsors, and then in Part Two I will focus on specific issues to cover off in an effective sponsorship agreement.

Re-thinking sports sponsorship

What businesses come to mind when you think of traditional sport club sponsors? Straight away I think of businesses in the real estate and building and construction industries, along with pubs and retailers – which are unfortunately some of the businesses that have been – or will be – hit hardest by the coronavirus.

Therefore, it is more important than ever to think about new ways that your organisation can add value to sponsors, both in order to convince existing sponsors that they should continue to support you while their finances may be stretched, and also to attract new sponsors to help your bottom line.

Some of the ways that we see sports organisations adding value to their sponsors, and some important considerations to bear in mind, are outlined below.

  1. Provide access to your database of members’ emails or contact details

This can be an invaluable resource for your sponsor/s to expand their reach and build brand awareness, however it is important that you only provide the details of members who have consented to their information being used for direct marketing, or who would reasonably expect their information to be used for that purpose.  Otherwise, your sponsors may face a backlash from members who did not expect to receive marketing communication, in turn damaging your relationship with your sponsor.  You also risk being in breach of the Australian Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act 1988.

  1. Traditional advertisements

As we know, customers are more likely to resonate with a brand if they already recognise the logo. Placing your sponsor’s name or logo in your newsletter and on signs around your playing fields is another simple yet effective way of building brand awareness and adding value for your sponsors. Note, you may need to comply with rules set by competition organisers or governing bodies regarding certain types of sponsorship such as shirt sponsorship.  For example, Bowls Queensland’s by-laws include that sponsors’ names or logos may only appear on shirts where:

  • sleeve logos do not exceed 50 mm²;
  • names on a folded down collar or cuff of sleeve are less than 3cm high by 4cm wide; and
  • the top line of logos on the front midriff appear 4cm below the bottom line of the Bowls Australia logo.
  1. Naming rights

Name your teams, sports carnivals, grandstands or function rooms after your major sponsors. This not only increases their exposure, but also makes sponsors feel like an important partner, thus adding long-term value to your sponsorship relationship. When doing so, it is important that you follow up on this by encouraging staff, media, members and competition organisers to use the sponsor’s name so that they gain maximum exposure.

  1. Offer networking opportunities

This is an excellent way to add value that is often overlooked, and it can come in various forms.  For example, you can create a “business network” and host events encouraging members and sponsors to meet each other and to do business with each other.  You might offer tickets or discounts for sponsors and their guests to attend events and use your facilities.  Or, offer to organise and host a special event for the sponsor’s customers and referrers, which can be a great opportunity for the sponsor to take pride in showing off their new signs around your playing fields, or the new grandstand or function room that has been named in their honour.

  1. Keep up the communication

A good strategy is to appoint a Sponsorship Coordinator to your board or management committee, charged with the specific duty of reaching out to sponsors and keeping them engaged and informed.  This ensures a clear line of communication between your organisation and the businesses that support it – and also means that sponsors may be more inclined to renew their support next year, if they can see how much they are valued and how important they are to your operations.

Conclusion

An effective strategy to help your club or sporting organisation to attract and retain sponsors can make a world of difference by bringing in extra funding to enable you to provide better facilities and opportunities for your members. If you have any questions about how you can attract and retain more sponsors, then feel free to contact me on 07 3224 0353 – and remember to look out for my next article regarding the issues to cover off in your sponsorship agreements.

Article written by Matthew Bradford (Partner) and Glen Rolley (Associate).  

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."