Whenever we begin to work with Chambers as new Total Resource Campaign (TRC) clients, we brainstorm possible sponsorship opportunities as well as member businesses that might be interested in various sponsorships.
Inevitably, someone will ask why a member business would sponsor an event or unique opportunity.
There are three really important reasons businesses sponsor Chamber opportunities. Before I tell new clients those reasons, though, I tell them a story.
Play with the Big Boys
I wasn’t always a consultant. When I was a Chamber executive myself, I was running a TRC and at an event, someone slipped me a signed contract. I was so excited that I had to pause the conversation I was involved in to quickly skim the contract.
Imagine my delight when I saw that a member business had chosen to underwrite our largest sponsorship of our new event!
When I saw who had signed the contract, my delight faded, however, as I knew this gentlemen and his business and knew he had simply checked the wrong box. I called out – loudly – across the small but crowded room and said, “Bill! You checked the Presenting Sponsor box!”
He responded with the biggest grin on his face, “I know! Isn’t it great?”
It took a moment for me to realize what everyone watching already knew. That funny taste in my mouth was my foot. Bill had checked the right box. I had made the wrong assumption.
This gentleman went on to sponsor that same event, at that same level, for several years, going above and beyond by giving the Chamber additional large door prizes for us to raffle to attendees at the event.
One day, I took a chance and asked him, “Bill, why did you sponsor something so large when you had never done anything like that before?”
He looked at me and said, “Because the TRC gave me the chance to play with the big boys. There are several similar companies in our area, and everyone assumes they are more financially available than I am, so no one ever asks me to participate.”
The Key Points of Sponsorship
When thinking about your sponsorship opportunities and member businesses that might want to have a seat at the table, remember Bill’s story. No one had ever approached him before because no one in our Chamber executive team – including myself – thought he was ready for a seat at the table.
One of the wonderful things about a TRC is that it opens up sponsorship opportunities that might present new vistas to businesses that weren’t there before. TRCs also bring new volunteers that see businesses in the community with fresh eyes.
Consider these three reasons why many businesses chose to sponsor through a TRC.
Marketing and Advertising
The majority of businesses have an advertising budget today. By taking advantage of a TRC sponsorship, those advertising dollars will reach a wider audience and for a longer period of time than a radio, television or social media ad.
Positioning in the Community
Another story I love to tell is of a manufacturing plant outside of city that purchased the sponsorship of the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. No one expected it, but the company sponsored the meeting several years in a row.
When asked, the company CEO explained, “We have good jobs and competitive benefits and compensation packages, but we were spending so much money on hiring fairs and online recruiting sites and still not recruiting the kind of workers we wanted.”
“Sponsoring the Annual Meeting got our name in front of the community in ways that we never could before, and people began to look at us differently,” he continued. “We didn’t change who we were, but we began to draw a better pool of applicants. We now spend far less on hiring fairs but have far better candidates to choose from, and we are convinced that it is because of our sponsorship.”
Matching Corporate Values
If you know a business owner is actively involved in politics, suggest a sponsorship that is closely aligned with your governmental relations program. If a CEO is heavily involved in education incentives, point out the education sponsorships available.
Show your potential sponsors how their corporate values can match closely with sponsorship opportunities.
Sponsoring with enthusiasm
Moving businesses toward sponsorships takes planning and engagement on the part of both Chamber executives and volunteers. But if you keep in mind the key points of sponsorship, you can easily be well on your way.