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Sponsoring a youth sporting team can sometimes feel bittersweet.

As a small business owner, it’s inevitable that the local Little League, Hockey, Soccer teams etc will approach you for sponsorship. And most business owners are happy to provide a little back to the community and help out.

Where I believe the opportunity is often lost, is that the help usually results in a cheque being cut and it ends there. And while these groups do their best to recognize their valued sponsors, many business owners are left wondering if the investment is actually worth it, for the business. Sure, as the owner, you get a sense of giving back and supporting those who have supported you, but can it actually help the business out as well by driving additional traffic and brand strength?

Yes, It can. By taking just a few extra little steps beyond giving money, you can build yourself a small group of advocates that will sing your praises throughout the community.

Selection is Key

Firt of all, pick an organization that means something to you. If you’re a hockey fan, pick a team or league to support. You’re a soccer nut, support the soccer league… You will be much better equipped to take advantage of the following points if you can really get behind the sport you are sponsoring.

Get Involved

If you sponsor a team… Go to the games ! As much as you can. Help out if you can as a coach or volunteer. The key is to be there and support “your” team. So often I see sponsors names written on the back of Jerseys,  but does anyone really notice? Not really, it’s kind of taken for granted. And in the best case scenario, you might see some goodwill from “your” team’s parents, but can you maximize this investment to go beyond just this small group ?

Yes. The answer is YES.

Here are a few ways you can really make a memorable impact. Sure, some of these will cost a little more money than your sponsorship, but the dividends in building loyalty getting reciprocation will be huge.

Caveat… Before you go wild on this, it’s always a good idea to check with the league to make sure they are OK with your idea.

  • Let’s say for example you sponsor a local youth soccer or baseball team. Show up on the hottest day of the year with some ICE cold water bottles (Put them in a good cooler packed with ice hours before you go). If you can do it, get your name on the bottle… Or just wear a T-Shirt with your business name on it. Be sure you have enough for everyone, including the other team(s).  The cost to you is minimal, but the impact on the parched parents and players will be monumental.
  • Maybe you own a coffee shop nearby. Why not show up at the rink on Saturday with a few large carafes of your best brew and offer it to parents as they watch their kids play. It’s a great time to build some rapport with a new potential prospect as you pour.
  • Handing out SWAG is kinda cheesy and kind of a cliche… But you can make some posters, rally your staff together and go cheer on “your” team ! Better still, get some posters done for the parents and family of the team as well. Especially effective if it’s a playoff game. You can bet there will be some talk about this big crowd that showed up to cheer on a bunch of 11 year old kids as if they were pros for weeks to come within the community.
  • Ask the league if you can get some apparel, like a jersey etc that you can buy at your own expense that matches the team you sponsor. Their supplier can usually accommodate. Wear it with pride… Visit and Ask the team to sign it for you as if they were rockstars. Especially effective with kids sports, the parent will appreciate you interest in their child’s efforts.
  • Even if you don’t cheer on the team with posters etc, a few words after the game to the team to tell them how proud you are of them will go a long way.
  • Put pictures of your team on your website / facebook page. Encourage the community to come and watch a game (Check with parents, coaches and the league first).

You get the idea by now. Bottom line is you need to get involved the causes you support and show up ! Everybody loves their kids and thinks they’re special… So make them feel that way and they’ll remember you.

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