If professional services companies — law firms, accounting practices, marketing and ad agencies — are on your sponsorship prospect list, you’re going to have to use more persuasion to educate and acquire them.
Recently, the presenters of a webinar aimed at professional services providers highlighted their research on the types of marketing tactics that these firms use. They also revealed which work and which don't.
The number one item in the marketing tactics-that-don’t-work category? Sponsorship. Specifically sponsorship of non-profit events and golf outings. The reason? Extremely low results at generating leads and referrals.
3 Reasons Why Sponsoring Nonprofit Events is a Waste for Professional Services Firms
I agreed with the presenters; here’s why.
1. Wasted circulation.
Many nonprofit events’ audiences are too diverse, causing wasted circulation, which is an old advertising term that refers to buying media that is not well targeted. Let’s take a nonprofit golf event in support of raising dollars for cancer research. Perhaps the attendees are drawn to the event because their friend, colleague, or family member has cancer, and they want to support this cause and their friend. So far, so good.
Except for the professional services firm. This nonprofit likely has little evidence to show that a preponderance of these golfers also needs an IP attorney or an auditor. For results-driven marketers, sponsoring or networking at an event that is attended by people other than those you're trying to reach is a waste.
Many nonprofit sponsorship opportunities are too generic. They simply are not designed to generate the business results a professional services firm needs.
Too many companies ignore the most important aspects of their sponsorships. They simply send off their checks and logos for the nonprofit organizations to stick on e-blasts and other materials and think that's all there is to it.
These companies fail to take full advantage of their sponsorship investments by executing the necessary steps to realize results.
3 Reasons Why Professional Services Firms Should Sponsor Nonprofit Events
The more I thought about the presenters’ assessment of sponsorship, however, I realized their views might be ill-informed. Afterall, if the presenters' sole knowledge of sponsorship is a golf outing and a Gold, Silver, or Bronze package, they may have a limited understanding of the marketing medium and why it works.
If you represent a professional services company and are evaluating a nonprofit sponsorship or if you are selling sponsorship to a professional services company, here’s the way to focus.
1. Relationship building.
If the event with the sponsorship opportunity attracts the right audience — the decision maker for the professional services offered — sponsoring the event should provide you with lots of opportunities to meet and build relationships with these buyers in a relaxed setting focused on a cause in which the buyers takes an interest. How’s that for an icebreaker?
2. The right benefits.
Make sure the nonprofit organization provides value that is meaningful to your business. And no, that does not mean being the Gold or Silver Sponsor.
How can you showcase your expertise? How can you provide value to the organization and the event attendees? How can you meet the right people?
And by the way, this means you need to be involved with the sponsorship development process by co-creating it. The nonprofit organization knows a lot about their event and organization, but they need your help to meet your business objectives. Without your participation, they can’t possibly read your mind to know what you need to see happen.
One of my favorite examples is when an HR consulting firm sponsored a non-profit arts and business organization. The two researched the role of creativity in the work force. At a breakfast event the two companies shared the results; the HR consulting firm discussed impact; and the audience of prospective buyers received considerable value plus a “sample” of the consulting firm’s expertise.
Marketing does not magically make things happen. It does help you attract opportunity to you; then you must do the rest. Sponsorship is no different.
If you invest in sponsorship — or any marketing activity — you need to have a plan to determine how you’re going to take advantage of the event sponsorship before, during, and afterwards.
To summarize, sponsoring events that do not attract an audience of your buyers is ineffective. But taking a lead sponsorship role with the right strategy and design will absolutely get results, if you take advantage of it.