Advertising and Community Relations -- Get the Best of Both Worlds

Have you ever noticed that in communities without big universities, high school sports take on an even bigger importance?

That's what it's like where I live.

But like everywhere else in the country, our high school sports are always looking for ways to make a few extra bucks. Enter the high school baseball sponsorship program.

For a nominal fee (really nominal) businesses can display a banner around the baseball field for the season.

To me, this is a perfect example of a win-win situation for everyone.

Businesses get to advertise to parents (who are currently purchasing adult products and services) and kids (who soon will be purchasing adult products and services). They are able to control their message because they choose the banner (one of the strengths of advertising). And, because the parents and kids viewing the ads know the proceeds are going to help high school sports, they tend to view those businesses more favorably (one of the strengths of community relations).

Best yet, high school sports benefit from an influx of cash.

See how this works? As a business owner, you get the best of all worlds: Control of your message (advertising), frequency of your message (advertising), affiliation with a good cause (community relations) and the good feeling knowing you're supporting a worthwhile cause (community relations).

Creativity Exercise -- How to find win-win advertising and community relations opportunities

Grab some paper and pens (I'm partial to the fun gel pens) and let's start with some brainstorming.

First, start by making a list of everything you're looking for. I would include:

* What advertising opportunities does the association offer? For this purpose, make sure they offer some sort of advertising or sponsorship package.

* Is it a cause near and dear to your heart? (Or even just something you believe in?)

* Does the cause reach your target market? This is important. In the above example, as cool as I think that opportunity is, I'm not racing to sign up. Why? Because chances are, I'm not hitting enough of my target market to make it worth my while. And since there's a limited number of these opportunities, I could potentially be taking something away from a business that could really benefit from it.

However, here's something else to think about. Basically when it comes to target markets, this is what you have to decide: Is the cause more important than you getting business out of it? The more closely aligned the cause is to your target market, the more likely you'll see results from your participation. But again, if this is a cause you're passionate about and it reaches absolutely no one in your target market, you may still want to participate simply because it is so important to you. (I would still look for ways to get something out of your investment -- see (LINK TO) How to Use Community Relations to Grow Your Business for more ideas. There's nothing wrong with reaping some reward for your time and/or money.)

Now that you know what you're looking for, start digging around for opportunities. Start by calling the local Chamber of Commerce and networking groups like the Rotary and Kiwanis and other organizations that have their fingers on your community's pulse. Ask about both high-profile events and ones off the beaten path. Make sure you research them both -- high-profile events may seem too pricey on the surface, but dig deeper and you may discover it's perfect for your business. And you may strike gold with smaller venues.

You can also try calling your local area school sports coaches, band directors and fine arts program teachers -- all frequently offer programs that might include sponsorships and/or underwriting and/or various forms of advertising. Ditto non-school run sports programs like dance, gymnastics, Pop Warner football, AYSO soccer, Little League, YBL Basketball, etc.

With any luck, you'll discover your own win-win situation.

Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of "Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money." She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at http://www.TheArtistSoul.com

Copyright 2005 Michele Pariza Wacek

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