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What Professional Services Firms Need To Know About Corporate Sponsorships

Many decision makers at professional services firms (law, advisory, medical, accounting) understand the basic idea behind participating in corporate sponsorships.  Apart from supporting favorable causes or institutions, they are a marketing tool that can affect your company in very positive ways.  Unfortunately, it’s also true that if not carefully reviewed and analyzed, the wrong sponsorship opportunity can bring neutral to negative consequences.

Are you open to the idea of your firm participating in corporate sponsorships?  If so, here are a few guidelines for you to help you reach the right decision.

  1. First, carefully consider why you think this would be worthwhile for your company.  If you’re expecting a flood of new clients because your name appears in a theater program bill, think again—this will not be the return on investment.  Understand that a corporate sponsorship can bring any of the following three main benefits to a firm: 1) building brand identity and name recognition; 2) fostering your firm’s image as a philanthropic organization and supporter of the community, and; 3) establishing your firm’s image as a staunch supporter of, and leader in, a particular industry.
  2. Once you realize this, analyze what kinds of sponsorships make sense to be involved in.  You’re a leader and decision maker at your organization, and at the same time you will have causes you personally want to support.  Hopefully you can do so with your personal income or by volunteering your time.  However, when you commit your firm’s name and resources to a sponsorship, you need to consider the greater good of your company.  You might want your law firm to sponsor a local library, for example, but perhaps there is more value in having the firm be recognized as a high-tier sponsor of an intellectual property professional organization’s annual awards dinner.  To make this decision, think about the attributes of your brand and strategize how you can best enhance it.
  3. Once you have decided on a corporate sponsorship strategy, figure out what all of the available opportunities are, carve out a budget from your overall marketing allocation, and generate a list to further whittle down and turn into a yearly schedule.
  4. When you have your list of opportunities, research them very carefully.  Make sure that you’ve checked out the reputation of the event or organization you’ll be supporting.  If you end up sponsoring something with a bad reputation, it can affect your public image and brand.  Also, make sure that the other sponsors are compatible with the caliber and tier of your firm.  If your company’s name is listed alongside other sponsors with a lesser reputation and name recognition, you again risk the devaluing of its brand.
  5. Another important factor you need to weigh in order to determine the value of the sponsorship is exposure.  Have the sponsorship managers at the organizations you’re investigating provide you with past attendance numbers and guest lists (if an event), the number of impressions your firm name and logo will make—i.e., circulation numbers for a brochure, program or advertisement, hits on a website, or frequency of social media mentions—and opportunities for the leaders and top professionals of your firm to gain visibility by speaking or presenting.
  6. When the year is up, review and reevaluate the past year’s sponsorship schedule to make the next year’s budget decisions.  Get a download from your firm’s employees to see if they found value from each of the opportunities.  You can go even further and formally or informally poll your clients to find out their impressions of your company’s involvement.

Alex is a writer at The Law Offices of W.T. Johnson in Dallas, Texas. He wants to learn more about corporate sponsorships.

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