Being involved in events, from charity fundraisers to art exhibitions or sporting competitions, can be a great way for a small business to raise its profile and stand out from the crowd. Hiscox has for years been a supporter of the Whitechapel Gallery and is the official insurance provider for the Patron’s Lunch – both are closely linked with what we are passionate about and what we do well. Here are some ideas for how you can gain valuable exposure for your small business through event marketing.
What do you want to achieve?
First, you need to ask yourself what is the target you want to achieve?
- To raise awareness of your company
- To push up sales
- To distinguish yourself from your competitors
- The type of sponsorship you choose will depend on which objective (or order of objectives) you have.
Do your bit for charity
Supporting a worthy cause is an excellent way of proving that business isn’t all about the bottom line. You don’t necessarily need to offer money, either, as many small charities are desperate for help as well as funds. For example, your digital marketing firm could offer to set up and run a website and social media accounts for a team of local people trying to raise money for a local charity by riding from London to Paris. An excellent way for the team to raise its profile and to drum up extra donations, it could also show your firm’s professional skills off to a much wider audience.
Something old… or new
Decide what is the message you wish to convey about your firm before deciding which event to get involved in. If you want your company to conjure up a sense of history, stability or dependability then perhaps you might choose a long-established event. High-society tailor (and university outfitters) Ede & Ravenscroft, founded in 1689, is a sponsor of the Varsity Match, the annual rugby fixture between Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Whereas, if you are a start-up, challenger business you might want to back an event that encourages people to make a break with the past – the subliminal message you’re trying to put across to potential clients is: “be brave, try something new – it might be good for you.” Energy drink maker Red Bull has seen its sales soar as a result of its sponsorship of extreme sports, ranging from Formula One to the freefall skydive from the edge of space.
Keep it local
Effective marketing depends on knowing who is your target market. If you’re a small local business why not sponsor events that mean something to your customers and help to promote a sense of civic pride? That could mean paying for attractive hanging baskets along the high street or organising a town baking competition. You want to be involved in something that makes people feel good about their community – and therefore good about your business. That’s why many of the City of London’s largest firms, such as the Stock Exchange, support the Lord Mayor’s Show – it’s their town carnival, you could say.
Bring people together
Sponsoring a local food or drink event will usually entitle your business to free tickets, providing you with the perfect opportunity to entertain clients. Everyone loves to get away from work and let their hair down once in a while, and when they’re happy and relaxed is the perfect time to talk about how your business can help them even more. Your offer of a night out will allow them to network with your other clients. They will thank you for the invitation if it results in them winning some new business.
Why not host an event?
Allowing your premises to be used as the venue for an event can help to raise your company’s profile and bring in new people who may become new clients, particularly if you tempt them with special offers for visiting your website or liking you on social media. Financial information provider has a gallery in its London offices, but your shop could be transformed into a pop-up gallery exhibiting the work of local artists; your office’s meeting room could host a client briefing by a local solicitors or accountancy firm; or an empty warehouse or outbuilding could host a concert. Use your imagination.
Sponsoring an event offers your small business the opportunity to get the maximum bang for your marketing bucks. The cost of buying a new kit for a local children’s football team, for example, could be one-tenth that of a direct marketing campaign, but that small amount could reap much bigger benefits for your business, by raising awareness with your target audience and generating a powerful feel-good factor that could translate into increased sales.