Today’s post focuses on how to use social media & social network platforms in your efforts to secure cycling sponsorship.
Recently I interviewed Carrie Himel, owner of Social-Pop, a Social Media Marketing company; and, Gordon F. Snyder, Director, National Center for Information & Communications (ICT), Springfield Technical Community College; regarding their perspectives on effective use of Social Media to engage one’s intended audience. Although Gordon and Carrie each have different target audiences and segments, their comments and guidance were very similar, and extremely applicable to cycling sponsorship.
Below is a summary of recommendations from Carrie and Gordon. You can watch my entire interview with Carrie Himel on the Sponsor My Cycling Club YouTube channel.
Strive to educate your audience through your social media content and communications – Begin by focusing on what’s important to them. Take advantage of using interactions to educate your audience on the value you can provide in helping their business achieve its goals and objectives. As mentioned in “Understanding why companies sponsor”, companies have three basic motivations for sponsorship – making money, saving money, projecting an intended image. Use your connections through social media, e-mail, websites, communications (i.e. – news releases), face-to-face discussions to articulate the value you can provide. Always focus on the prospective sponsors needs first! Understand what they are attempting to accomplish, the problems they are attempting to solve, and how you can help. With this type of approach you will be able to position sponsorship of your cycling club, team, or event as a valuable asset, helping the prospective sponsor to increase awareness for their brand, drive greater traffic and sales.
Incorporate social media into your club or team’s sponsorship marketing strategy & plan by - creating relevant content, using key words to help prospective sponsors find you, disseminating content across multiple social media platforms, while striving to establish long-term relationships (not the quick win – it’s a Century, not a 250M sprint).
Create relevant content on your social media pages and web pages – create sponsor centric content on your web, blog, or social media pages meant specifically for prospective sponsors. Focus the content on answering questions a prospective sponsor my ask themselves such as – ”how does sponsorship fit into our overall marketing plan & strategy?” Or, “how will sponsorship help us reach our target audience?” A quote from the bestselling book “THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING & PR” further supports the messages I heard from both Carrie and Gordon – “…..what visitors really want is content that first describes the issues and problems they face and them provides the details on how to solve those problems.”
Use key words on your social media pages to help prospective sponsors to find you – Utilize words and terms that are relevant to companies looking for sponsorship. This can be very powerful in helping organizations find you. Also, if you are using terms used by prospective sponsors, and tying it back to the benefits they are seeking through sponsorship – making money, saving money, projecting an intended image – you are building immediate credibility.
Lastly, Gordon mentioned the importance of documenting your club or teams involvement in activities, and events, through photographs and/or videos, and posting these on Flickr. There are a variety of ways to post photos and videos, share, and link them back to your club or teams site with an explanation of why it is important to sponsors.
Use multiple platforms to disseminate information – Use your website, blog, social media communications, Twitter feeds, News Releases to highlight the things you are doing as a club or team. Using multiple platforms also enables you to reach audiences in the medium they are most comfortable with and prefer. Example – your club exceeded its fundraising goal for a charity, or your team placed well in a local race. Publicizing this is great. Including information on how it helped increase visibility for your sponsors, naming the sponsors, and including a brief statement explaining why they sponsored you provides relevance to the audience. It’s describing the value you provide to sponsors. Remember, visibility +awareness = interest + traffic (please see “Understanding why companies sponsor” for more information). Anything, and everything, you publish should include a brief explanation of how you can drive sponsor value and interest.
Work towards establishing long-term relationships – As you begin using social media to identify and engage prospective sponsors, remember the word “social”. Carrie advised that we should strive towards a balance in our interactions, specifically “….follow the rules of making interactions with a given contact 80% social; 20% business.” In other words, when engaging and building a relationship, try to remember it is for the long term; not for the short term.
Don’t overlook LinkedIn! – Both Gordon and Carrie stressed the importance of using LinkedIn to build relationships between your cycling club or team and prospective sponsors. LinkedIn is a very powerful business-to-business site enabling you to connect with people involved in making corporate sponsorship decisions – Marketing, Marketing & Communications, Sponsorship Marketing, Advertising, Manager of Sports Marketing, Manager of Public Relations, etc. Through LinkedIn you can see who you know that can make an introduction for you, or join the groups these contacts are involved in. This enables you to start the conversation, understand their goals & objectives are, and shape your message accordingly. (For a step-by-step description of how I used social media to identify contacts, uncover information, and engage a prospective sponsor please see the following post)
With social media, blogs, and the web, you have the opportunity to engage, articulate, and demonstrate how your cycling club, team, or event can drive sponsor value. If your content is not addressing issues which are top of mind of prospective sponsors, you are missing an opportunity to educate them on your value, differentiate your club, team or event from every other organization requesting sponsorship & funding. Not to mention, you are also missing an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership; which also contributes to your credibility. Remember, this could be the perfect way to move a prospective sponsor into deeper sponsorship discussions.
Hope you enjoyed today’s blog post!
Special thanks to Gordon and Carrie for sharing their time and expertise.
Thanks again for visiting. Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down.”
Related posts & sites
Sponsor My Cycling Club YouTube Channel
Social Media Blogs – http://www.sponsormycyclingclub.com/category/social-media-2/
Carrie Himel, Social-Pop – www.social-pop.com
Gordon F. Snyder’s Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Blog