This material originally appeared as one of Jim’s Daily Herald columns


The good news is that there are several low-cost, potentially high-return sponsorships that may be a good fit as your business seeks to establish connections with what can become a loyal band of customers that stays for years.  The kicker is that although the opportunities are there, you’ll have to find them.

Hometown promotions can be equally effective for lawyers, accountants, medical practices, retailers, manufacturers and consultants – virtually any business – but an effective match truly does depend on the opportunities you unearth.

As you’re foraging, keep in mind that the sponsorship dollars you bring to an organization can be just part of the equation.  For example, also seek access to the organization’s membership – a direct contact that goes beyond an ad in the program.

It’s understandable that not many organizations will give you their membership list, but they may be willing to send members an email message you write – noting how happy you are to become part of, for example, the local youth symphony family.

* Sports, including local high schools and colleges, offer one of the easier options, but also search for such possibilities as the local symphony’s holiday concert Presented by Your Business – with joint promotions that link your business to this revered local tradition.

Consider the Elgin Symphony, DuPage Symphony or similar organizations with loyal audiences.  Check out the Schaumburg Youth Symphony Orchestra and other leading youth musical groups.

Most smaller businesses don’t have the budget for Chicago Symphony events, but sponsorship participation in the CSO’s periodic visits to the suburbs might be manageable.

* Other ideas?  The annual Floral Design Showcase fundraiser put together by the Fremd (high school) Music Association, a parent group, offers florists from throughout the suburbs an opportunity to show off their arranging skills before, typically, several hundred potential floral customers.

Fremd, in Palatine, is the suburban high school I know best, but others also have strong music programs, scholastic bowl and debate teams, woodworking and other clubs – plus the usual score of athletic teams.

The school-level potential is worth exploring:  High school parents tend to support businesses that support their kids.

* Plants and flowers are not your thing?  Back to sports.  Businesses in and around Evanston, or larger businesses that want the loyalty college sports fans show, should consider program advertising at Northwestern games; radio sponsorship if the budget allows; or thousands of eyeballs watching Your Company’s Wildcat First Half Highlights on the stadium scoreboard.

There are fewer eyeballs at small college games, but the costs are lower, too.  It’s the same with high school sports, where support – families again – can be strong.

Be creative.  A towel or t-shirt toss to the crowd at the local football or basketball game – the towels carrying your business’ name, of course – should work.

* Not into sports?  Local juried art shows, produced by professional show organizations, draw well and typically give good exposure to sponsors.


© 2016 Kendall Communications Inc.  Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com.  Listen to Jim’s Business Owners’ Pod Talk at www.kendallcom.com/podcast.