28 Aug 2015

How to Attract Sponsors for Elevated Aluminum Bleachers or Other Stadium Improvements

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new vikings stadium seating

New Vikings stadium seating

Local sports teams always struggle when it comes to upgrading their facilities whether its to add a new set of elevated aluminum bleachers or to replace an outdated scoreboard.

But one encouraging statistic in this challenging batter’s box is the incredible rise of corporate sponsorships in America for high-profile stadium naming rights.

Corporate America has literally gone crazy over putting their name on the side of a ball field.

For example, U.S. Bank has reportedly agreed to pay $220 million for the name rights for the new Minnesota Viking billion-dollar stadium. It’s a 25-year deal and US Bank will be on the hook for $8.8 million per year.

That package includes at least one year where the Vikings will host the NFL Super Bowl – the ultimate marketing event.

Mercedes Benz just committed to purchasing the naming rights to the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. No big deal? Well, that’s the second mega-naming deal for them – they already dropped a bundle to place their name on the New Orleans Superdome where the Saints play.

Still, $220 million. Used to be you could build an entire stadium for half of that. Imagine how many outstanding little league fields you could create with that kind of money.

Well, US Bank is not going to give your Pee Wee football program $220 million, but the point is, with all this sports sponsorship fever, it certainly paves the way for local programs to attract some sponsor dollars of their own.

One of the best, high-profile local sports packages you can offer is sponsorship or naming rights for seating.

As a local program grows in popularity, more seating is going to be required. Or, perhaps the seating needs to be upgraded from ugly wooden bleachers that are now cracked, splintered and worn.

Think about adding sets of elevated bleachers as an attractive sponsorship opportunity. That type of structure will command a premium.

Here’s why. First of all, with elevated aluminum bleachers, you can be sure people will notice any sponsorship because they will be spending a whole lot of time walking up, sitting down and leaving those seats.

If you have a message displayed prominently on those bleachers, it will get noticed.

Secondly, consider the height of elevated aluminum bleachers. These bleachers are raised up off the ground providing fans with a better view.

Subsequently, banners and sponsor messages placed on elevated aluminum bleachers will be at eye-level and highly-visible.

In addition, with elevated aluminum bleachers, a fence surrounds the structure. That provides two major placement areas for banners or windscreens. The back of the bleachers is a great spot to place a full banner with the sponsor’s name for people to view as they pass by.

And, then the sponsor’s name can be displayed again right above where everybody sits. They will see it every time they walk up the stairs.

How to make those elevated aluminum bleachers stand out

Most parents involved in sports programs certainly don’t know anything about how to sell a $220 million sponsorship package to a national bank.

10 row elevated aluminum bleachers

10 row elevated aluminum bleachers

That’s the key. When asking a local business to sponsor your new elevated aluminum bleachers, you are essentially making a sales call.

That frightens a lot of folks, especially those who are not professional salespeople.

But there are some simple tactics you can use to ensure your success. After all, as we’ve seen, sports marketing is one hot and popular form of marketing right now and businesses are clamoring to get involved in it.

So, be prepared.

The first thing to do is form a committee of people who would be the ones approaching businesses. Try to get people on the committee with some sales background or strong ties and contacts with the local business community.

The second strategy and this is a very important one, is to put together an attractive package itemizing all the benefits the local business will receive for their sponsorship.

Don’t just go in the door assuming this business will give you money because supporting local kids is the right thing to do.

Many businesses understand this. But, remember, a business is in business to make a profit, not to buy bats for little Joey and Jenny. A business owner wants to see what they will get for their money and how their dollars will enhance their brand name and bottom line.

In addition, realize that this business is also getting hit up by everybody else in the community requesting sponsorships and advertising. People are continually walking in the door looking for some donation to a local civic group, garden club, school, church, etc.

You need to make your package incredibly appealing. A high-profile sporting amenity in a small market can just be the ticket. Use it to your advantage.

Provide pictures of the elevated aluminum bleachers you plan to buy. See if you know a local graphic artist who knows Photoshop and can place a sample banner with the business’ name on a photo of the bleachers.

A picture can be worth a thousand dollars if done right.

Next, puff up the sponsor package. Call it the Platinum Package or whatever and throw in a bunch of extras.

If the local athletic program has a website, offer to include a link on the website back to the sponsor’s website. If there is an email that goes out, offer to add a link there as well.

Does your league have a press box with an announcer? Offer to have the announcer mention during the games how XYZ business is providing the elevated seating that fans are enjoying at the moment. When a sponsor sits there watching a game, that will be sure to bring a smile to their face.

Offer other banner placements as well, perhaps on the concession stand, etc.

When the shiny new elevated aluminum bleachers are installed, be sure to contact the local newspaper for a photo opportunity. Or shoot a photo and send it out on the league’s Facebook or Twitter accounts. Ask people to like and share it with their friends. That can result in quite a bit of positive social mileage.

Give the sponsor a plaque with the photo on it as well so they can hang it proudly in their office.

Also, don’t assume the local business is familiar with your athletic program. Give them a brief overview. Explain to them all the teams that play, all the sports involved, the number of participants involved in the program, the number of parents or fans who generally attend, the number of games and practices, any large regional or state playoffs, etc. Invite them to attend a busy tournament. All those specific details will add more punch to the package.

aluminum-bleachers-rear-view-web

The back of aluminum bleachers offer a high visibiilty opportunity for sponsor banners.

Who to contact for bleacher sponsorships

Once you create a super-appealing proposal showing a potential sponsor how they will be displayed on the elevated aluminum bleachers before a continuous stream of local residents, then it’s time to go out and approach some prospects.

Some of the best places to start are with local banks, credit unions, insurance companies, car dealerships, and mortgage companies. Generally, these types of businesses will actually have money set aside in their budgets for community projects and goodwill.

The key is to start with local businesses. Because local businesses know the impact they can receive from having thousands of people walk by their sponsor message everyday and weekend.

Also, a local business can make decisions quickly. You can approach large national businesses in your town as well, such as Wal-Mart or Wells Fargo, because those companies have money allocated for local neighborhood projects.

But you might find those funds are limited or require approval from corporate headquarters, which can take weeks if not months. Certainly, contact them, but keep in mind the time frame and decision-making process.

One way to make people act fast is to let them know this prime opportunity to sponsor these highly visible elevated aluminum bleachers is a first-come, first-serve opportunity. So, they had better grab it now before Joey’s Donuts down the street snaps it up.

Also, create a sense of urgency with a deadline for a local business to make a decision. Again, they know they will have to move quickly if they want this spot.

Finally, there’s the law of exclusivity. Perhaps you want to limit just one sponsor to be featured on the bleachers., Be sure to emphasize this sponsorship is much different than say an advertisement in the local program. This is a one-of-kind, very unique opportunity they will want to grab quickly. No one else in town will have their business’ brand and message displayed so distinctly on these brand-new, highly-used elevated aluminum bleachers.

If you sign a deal, especially a deal where a business wants to be the exclusive sponsor of the bleachers for say five or ten years (like they do in the big leagues) you might have an attorney review any agreement.

Make sure it is secure for both sides and both parties can deliver (for example, what if your league hosts a regional or statewide tournament and you need to purchase even more elevated aluminum bleachers, a set of 10-row bleachers or tip-n-roll portable bleachers?)

For anyone who follows sports, when they see the magnitude of these sky-high naming deals for these national stadiums, they must just be amazed. Some get very upset when they lose the original team name.

But those days are gone and really this is not a new a phenomenon. Fenway (Realty Company) Park and Wrigley (Chewing Gum) Field have been around for decades.

Anyone involved in local athletic programs should be encouraged because obviously, businesses like to toss money around for sports.

You can certainly get some funds on the local level for enhancements to your facility, such as elevated aluminum bleachers. All it takes is walking up to the mound with the right pitch and a winning attitude.

 

 

 

 

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