Using Big Business Sponsorship Ideas to Market Your Small Business


Today’s Guest Post is by Mark Nagurski from Really Practical Marketing

The 2008 Olympics are fast approaching and buried amidst the flag-waving, medal-winning and money-spending you might just find a host of, not exactly inconspicuous, Official Sponsors, Partners and Suppliers.

Of course, some of these associations make good sense, but, there are also dozens of Official Suppliers whose sporting links are tenuous at best. For example, McDonald’s, not best known for its healthy menu, is the official restaurant of Beijing 2008.

And while Mao is no doubt spinning in his grave, it’s a perfect example of why sponsorships appeal to business. Not only do they get massive exposure but they also get to ‘borrow’ an event or organisation’s brand equity and goodwill in the process.

Now the Olympics may be a bit out of reach for most businesses, but with so many events and causes in need of support, even the smallest of businesses can effectively use sponsorship as an exciting way to connect with their target markets.

Here are five quick pointers for getting started:

1. Consider who and what you might like to sponsor.
Your sponsorship will ideally align well with your product / service but it’s even more important that it aligns with your prospective customers’ interests and values.

To create the perfect sponsorship package, it’s often better to do the approaching as a potential sponsor rather than wait to be approached. To help generate some unique sponsorship ideas, start by asking yourself what matters to your customers (outside your business) and then look for opportunities to get involved – and events and organisations to get involved with.

2. It’s about more than just advertising space. You should be looking for as holistic a sponsorship package as possible. This might include advertising, being named as a sponsor in marketing materials, joint press releases, data collection or anything else you can think of.

If you’re the person being approached about becoming a sponsor, it’s worthwhile suggesting additions the organisers may not have thought of. The costs may be negligible and your ideas will usually be of benefit to you both.

3. Sponsor in kind, not just cash.
Quite often your expertise, product or service can be as valuable as your cash. Look for opportunities where you benefit from both promotional opportunities and the chance to show off what you can do. For example, a landscaper could sponsor a neighbourhood renewal project by providing supplies and manpower rather than just cutting a cheque. A bakery could support a children’s hospital by supplying goodies for a bake sale.

4. Do the follow up. Make sure you get the most from any PR opportunities through the local press both before and after the event. Likewise, sponsorships are an excellent opportunity for you to network and build contacts.

5. Think social.
Supporting good causes and events is something that shouldn’t need a whole lot of financial justification anyway. So if you’re in need of sponsorship ideas, look to put your time and money towards something worthwhile for your community.

Based in Ireland, Mark Nagurski is a small business marketing consultant and blogger. The Really Practical Marketing blog provides a daily dose of (un)commonsense marketing advice for real small businesses both online and off. You’ll find it at


  1. Number 3 is a great idea that probably doesn’t come to mind much of the time. Finding events for example that can use what you offer could be a tremendous branding opportunity. Like offering your sports drink product at local little league games.

  2. Thanks Chris, yes that’s true it’s one that most wouldn’t think about right away.

  3. Number 4 is really important. A lot of people dont make time to do this and then they lose out on what could be a great prospect!