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If You Sponsor ANYTHING, Read This Article

background, sun setting over a beach. text - if you sponsor anything, read this article

There are tons of sponsorship opportunities in the world today.  Some can be as small as sponsoring a kids’ t-ball team, some can be as large as the World Cup, and some can great as the Lemont Legends Cruise Nights.  (And, for those who sponsor our Cruise Nights or any of our events, WE LOVE YOU!)

Brag About It, and Brand at the Same Time

Volkswagen is a Presenting Partner of Team USA during the World Cup.  Heading into the tournament, they released this ad (we have the one-minute version embedded below).

They beautifully capture American pride (with Christian Pulisic), portray the pressure he’s faced throughout his career along with future pressure he could face, the talk about the creation of a diamond – reflecting those attributes to their new electric car. “A car the world needs now.”

Now, if you’re a small business, you probably don’t have the budget to sponsor Team USA. But, going to back to my first example, what if you are sponsoring a kids’ t-ball team. You can tell your story by reflecting on these points:

  • Supporting local. - Reinvesting in the community is a great way to get noticed and separate yourself from the big box brands.
  • Supporting youth / “the future.” - This can get people thinking If you want people thinking about college or estate planning, life insurance, and more.

young girl playing teeball, shulman zale legal group llc on back of jersey

Photo: Shulman Zale Legal Group

You can get your messaging across via digital media, whether in a blog article, a social post, or on an e-newsletter. Remember, this will amplify your audience. In our example, how many “non-relatives” go to watch t-ball?

Remember to associate the key aspects of whatever you are sponsoring to your business. Tell the story, as you want

Encourage Interaction With Your Brand

Remember going to a sporting event before the advent of e-tickets? As you held your ticket stub, odds are there was a coupon on the back of it.

Keeping with the T-ball example, what if you were a restaurant that sponsored team? Kids – stop in after your game for a free ice cream with the purchase of a meal. Not only will that bring in the kids, but the rest of the family as well.

photo from a beer league hockey game, puck going into corner. several players in shot.

It’s not limited to kids sports as well. In my younger days, I tended goal for a beer league team sponsored by the Beer Bistro. In exchange for getting the cost of our jerseys paid for, we went to that bar after every game. I’m sure you can imagine, Beer Bistro came out ahead of the game in this deal.

These two examples are very micro in the grand scheme of life, but perfect things to consider if you are a small business.

No matter the event, you can probably think of a way to capitalize. Show us the program from a play or musical, show us a golf scorecard, show us a selfie from the event, etc. There’s no limit of the imagination on how to connect your brand to whatever you sponsor.

If you’re able to set up on site at whatever you sponsor, do so! Don’t be a table that just hands out fliers, as those will probably end in the nearest trash can. Also, don’t just had out free stuff to whomever walks up. Encourage interaction!

We have all seen that “spin to win” set up. It’s simple and effective, assuming that there aren’t 15 other sponsors doing the same thing. You’re creating time with your customer where you can interact and make an impression. They will be taking home some sort of promotional item, just like they would if you piled things on your table. And, if you require customers to sign up and get an email address – you’re building your email list for further marketing messaging!

Photo: WinSpin via

One of my favorite activations occurred at the iHeartRadio Festival by Mastercard. This vending machine was very neat, as it prompted visitors to answer a question and include a machine-provided unique hashtag. When the hashtag was used, a prize would dispense ($10 prepaid Mastercards and free music downloads).

Vending Machine at 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival (Roger Kisby photo credit)

Photo: Roger Kisby for iHeartRadio

Visitors participating not only walked out with something tangible of value, but they also put out messaging on their social media!


It’s amplification and activation! And it’s a way to get more milage and strengthen your brand out of any potential sponsorship.

If you’re a small business, don’t fret – there are many ways to pull this off with little-to-no budget. Keep it simple and easy, as those are the most effective campaigns. And don’t forget to keep an eye on the big brands – because inspiration can come from many different sources.

Headshot of Dan MulkaABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Mulka is a 15+ year marketing vet, with experience buying and selling sponsorships throughout his tenure.  He currently is the Executive Director of the Heritage Corridor Business Alliance, helping to provide guidance to member businesses in Lemont, Homer Glen, and the surrounding areas.

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