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Vaughan Rising Blog: Five Ways to Use Sponsorship to Help Your Business Grow

During Covid-19 many businesses have had to get creative on how to maximize their marketing dollars. Many are surprised to learn that even the smallest budget can be leveraged further through sponsorships than through many other marketing channels combined.

The City of Vaughan offers several sponsorship opportunities to local businesses. Cristina Prinzo, the City of Vaughan’s Acting Manager of Municipal Partnerships and Sponsorships, offers some tips on incorporating sponsorship to help your business grow.

1.   Find your fit

Define your brand’s core values and objectives for the upcoming year. Find a partner that shares the same values and is successful in reaching your target audience. The synergy will create a strong connection with prospects and customers when they see you walking the talk and identify with you through shared values.

Cristina recommends, “Talk candidly with any potential partners about what you hope to get out of the partnership prior to committing. Whether it’s increasing sales, driving traffic, launching a new product or attracting talent – let the sponsored partner know your objective so that you can work together to achieve your ultimate goals. Looking to promote your company’s corporate social responsibility mandate? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and marketing sponsorships go hand-in-hand. Give back while growing your business; it’s a win-win!”

Case Study: The HUB Vaughan

The City of Vaughan is proud to be in a three-year partnership with The HUB Vaughan. Membership means family at this premium co-working and storage facility in the heart of the community and is a great fit with the City of Vaughan’s Starter Company Plus program. This sponsorship provides local entrepreneurs with discounted space to work, training and mentorship, and ultimately generates leads for the sponsor through targeted matchmaking.

2.   Stand out

Once you have found the right fit, raise your profile by thinking outside the box. Sponsoring an event or program means that your brand will be front and center on all marketing created by the partner, and exclusivity means you’re featured without the presence of your competition. Sponsorship not only builds awareness and exposure but also creates community goodwill – a great way to set small businesses apart from larger brands.

Cristina notes, “More so than placing an ad or handing out your business card, a sponsorship provides your business with a new way of marketing that (especially for smaller businesses) can familiarize your target audience with your brand. Creating brand affinity by partnering with a program or service that is well-liked in your community is an effective way to position or reposition your brand to stand out. Exposure on new and different channels will expand your audience exponentially.”

Case study: BMO and more

The Vaughan Business Expo is an annual event that attracts all sizes of businesses and brings them together for a day of learning and networking. In 2019, BMO was the presenting sponsor and five smaller businesses supported each Zone that related to their industry. Organizers were thrilled to welcome Millennial’s Choice, Mentor Works Inc. and more as sponsors. Each of them made numerous connections throughout the day and stood out from the crowd as leaders in their field.

3.   Bang for your buck

In times like these budgets are tight. Seek out cost effective, high-impact opportunities that will garner at least a 3:1 ROI. Not sure? Ask! Your sponsorship partners should be able to report back on your impact with data. Get complete details about what is included, and the anticipated return on your investment.

“Not all sponsorship opportunities are created equally, and you want to break through the clutter,” Cristina advises. “Find out if there are other sponsors already on board, how you will be recognized and what other opportunities are there to leverage your partnership. Whatever your objective, use those sponsorship dollars to their maximum potential and course correct along the way through open dialogue if needed.”

Case study: Grow with Vaughan

New in 2020, the Grow with Vaughan initiative offers a unique partnership opportunity to sponsor a city flower bed. The flower beds provide low-cost, high-impact marketing for local Vaughan businesses through highly visible signage in one of 50 high-traffic locations throughout the municipality. Sponsors will be featured on signage and online for 12 months out of the year with turn-key service allowing for prominent logo recognition and the opportunity to beautify the City in partnership with a beloved city service.

4.   Leverage the partnership

Seek out ways to cross-promote your involvement and build tactics that align with the partner to maximize visibility in your target market. Many sponsors put aside the exact amount of a sponsorship alone without considering the added costs to activate it. The absentee sponsor never reaches their objectives.

“Make sure to set aside some additional resources to promote your involvement with the program, whether that be staff time, product, or supporting marketing material. Don’t rely on your partner to get the word out alone, do your part in making the partnership a success!” advises Cristina.

Additional ways to leverage a sponsorship:

  • Donate a prize so that participants can use your product
  • Plan an online or in-person activation to build long-term emotional connections with customers such as a product demo, contest, activity or experience
  • Engage staff to network at events to generate leads
  • Survey event attendees to gain insight and data on who your audience is
  • Participate in programming as a speaker, mentor, moderator, or panelist
Case study: Saputo

Saputo owns a large manufacturing facility in Vaughan with hundreds of employees. As part of their commitment to the communities where they operate, they named the nearby tennis courts in Torii Park the “Saputo Tennis Courts” with the objective of building a lasting legacy. This partnership provided Saputo with an opportunity to reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle for families and contribute to the communities where their employees live, work and play. The partnership also kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony complete with a tennis demonstration and product sampling, creating a legacy for many for years to come.

5.   No money, no problem!

Don’t count yourself out of the race if you don’t have cash to contribute right now. There are many other ways to get involved in sponsorships that can help you to achieve the same goals. Many companies offer in-kind professional services such as office hours, mentorship or consulting in lieu of a sponsorship fee for recognition. Others provide product in-kind or services such as media partners, tech support and the like.

Cristina emphasizes, “Partnerships come in all forms and sizes, each holding value for both parties involved. The main purpose in any sponsorship is to gather enough resources to make the program a success while delivering on the sponsor’s objectives.”

Case study: Custom partnerships

Whether it be Nature’s Emporium donating seeds and plants to Vaughan’s community gardens, or corporations donating to the RecAssist fee subsidy programs for low income families in Vaughan, the City has customized event and program partnerships available. There are options to fit any budget and the City works together with the business community to reach their ultimate goals.

Make sponsorship a priority in your business strategy

Sponsorship events are great places to meet key customers, connect with suppliers, and solidify business relationships. With shared values and honest communication you can create a partnership that will build your credibility and provide insight into your audience. Consider how much your business will benefit when you make sponsorship part of your long-term, sustainable business strategy.

To learn more about how the City of Vaughan partners with the local business community and ways to get involved visit www.vaughan.ca/corporatepartnerships.

 

The information presented in this article is provided solely for the purpose of bringing ideas to the attention of the business community, as a service to the businesses of the City of Vaughan.

The City of Vaughan does not, whether directly or indirectly, endorse, sponsor or sanction the opinions expressed in this article, nor any services or products that may be offered by the contributor/s in their normal course of business.  The City of Vaughan does not intend by this article to recommend the contributor/s nor to promote them as subject matter experts over any other business persons employed or engaged in similar lines of business.

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