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How Your Small Business Can Become a Hyperlocal Event Sponsor Event sponsorship brings rewards, and you can take part no matter how small your small business is.

By Mary Hood Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every day, corporations receive countless solicitations to sponsor events. Fundraisers, conventions, product shows, seminars, lectures, sports, concerts and other entertainment venues constantly reach out to big companies for sponsorship. A lot of money is needed for such an event to fulfill its purpose and turn a profit. Sponsors ease the burden of "overhead" and improve the bottom line.

As my company Hollywood Sensation Jewelry has grown through the years, it has been my pleasure to sponsor several charitable events benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Success feels best when I can give something back.

Sponsorship isn't a one-way street, either. It's a win-win situation, providing opportunities and a high return on investment for the sponsor corporation. Unlike advertising, sponsorship generates revenue by building relationships.

Related: The Secret to the Right Combination of Events and Sponsors

The hyperlocal event sponsor

Sponsoring events on a local level is called Community Asset Sponsoring or hyperlocal sponsoring. We're all familiar with sponsors for the local junior sports team, providing the money for uniforms and equipment. But most community events rely on sponsors for money. Things like festivals, picnics, holiday gatherings, cultural events, farmers' markets and art fairs are just a few options.

The cost of sponsorship varies depending on:

  • The level of exposure you want. Do you want to be the "only" beer artisan? Do you want to be the first thing patrons see, or are you happy along the back row?
  • The expected attendance of the event. Are 40 people coming, or 4,000? You'll pay more for the chance to interact with more people.
  • The location. Do you want to sponsor the homecoming parade in a small town or the St. Patrick's Day Parade in a metropolis? You know which one will be cheaper.

However, when it comes to hyperlocal sponsorship, the range is generally from $500 to $2,200. There's no set "rule" about how much you can donate to an event, but if the costs grow much higher, you're moving out of hyperlocal sponsorship and contending with more prominent companies.

Typically, the event coordinators do the chasing when it comes to seeking sponsorships. Still, multiple sites let you search for upcoming events that need sponsorship. I don't recommend paying for a service to hunt down opportunities for hyperlocal sponsorships. Information about your community is readily available online or by checking the bulletin board at the local library!

Tips for hyperlocal sponsorship

  • Target the audience. Sponsor events where the attendees have experiences in line with your business goals. The closer the niche, the better. If there's a dog show coming to town and you're a dog groomer, get on board.
  • Show up! Be a face at the event, rather than just a business that tosses money at a cause. Have gift bags, free t-shirts or a prize drawing. Depending on the rules and purpose of the event, you may even be able to sell your product or services.
  • Pay for the perk of being the "only" one in your field. Talk to the event coordinator about being the only restaurant, boutique, plumber, artist or chiropractor there. There's usually a fee involved, but it could be worth it.
  • Use the advantage. An event is a great place to "launch" a new service or product without needing to create your event launch. Did I say win-win?
  • Check out what other businesses are doing. This is a great way to network and nab a few intelligent business and promotional ideas.
  • Engage in social media. Before, during and after the event, connect with the press package. Say that you're coming and why you support the cause. Put out coupons or codes for free stuff people can get if they visit your booth. Post-event media keeps the ball rolling and opens more sponsorship opportunities.
  • Measure success. If your purpose is to increase sales, web hits, or foot traffic, devise a way to measure "before" and "after" results to demonstrate the outcome of your sponsorship.
  • Donate in-kind. If money is too tight to donate funds, consider "in-kind" sponsorship. Often events need items other than money. If you're a restaurant, donate food. If you're an artist or technician, donate your services. You can loan out chairs, décor, or physical space for the gatherings. You can even donate your own time. If the event needs a punch server, show up wearing your company's logo and serve that punch.

Related: Three Tools for Hyper-local Social Media Marketing

Hyperlocal…around the world

There are many great reasons to be a hyperlocal sponsor in your community. But what if your business is in the early stages – centered around your kitchen table, reaching out through the Internet?

Sponsorship is possible, even exciting, in the world of virtual events. The many options include sponsored posts, email marketing, banners, surveys and prizes that will be offered to participants to keep them engaged in the proceedings. Virtual events benefit a more ambiguous length – content can be shared afterward and made available on-demand.

Virtual events may allow you to post your logo on the home screen and contribute content. You could even be a guest speaker or commentator with the right know-how in the niche. This is an evolving field and an excellent opportunity to get creative while building online relationships.

The win-win situation

Sponsorship generates goodwill, increases visibility for your brand's logo, lets you cater to target audiences by choosing events that align with your mission and increases media exposure. It establishes your territory and solidifies relationships by associating your brand with the event. By sponsoring a charitable event, you can do a world of good for the cause of your choice.

As a small business owner, there's no reason you can't be a part of these opportunities.

Related: Before You Sponsor an Event, Answer These Questions

Mary Hood

CEO of Hollywood Sensation Jewelry

Mary Hood is CEO of Hollywood Sensation Jewelry. Mary is a creative sales professional with a background in fine jewelry, marketing, merchandising, photography, eCommerce and customer development. Experienced and capable of developing logistics, PR and social media strategies. hollywoodsensation.com

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