Sponsorship and advertising are commonly discussed under the same concept, and most people even assume they mean the same thing. While they are closely related, these two have some key differences. It is important to note how each function and how it can benefit your business. Contrary to popular thought, you do not have to pick either sponsorship or advertising. It is highly recommendable to add both to your marketing mix. Once you understand the differences between advertising and sponsorship, it becomes easier to combine and harmonize them within your marketing strategy.
Why you need them both
Although sponsorship and advertising have many similar elements, there are fundamental differences that create a massive gap between the scopes of each. Advertising aims to educate and motivate prospective customers to purchase while sponsorship targets to increase brand/product awareness and affinity. Here is a brief overview of the two marketing techniques:
Advertising refers to a paid message that you have control over. You can place an advertisement message in the newspaper and magazines, radio, TV, and websites or even billboards. As the business owner, you have total control over the message and how you want to place it. This means you have to account for the costs of ad (message) creation and placing fees for each media outlet you choose. You need advertising to achieve the following:
- Expands your reach in the market
- Can introduce a new product
- Increases sales
- Challenges your competition
- Educates your customers about your product and how it solves their problem
- Improves goodwill
Sponsorship, on the other hand, involves paying to sponsor a team, league, event, or organization. Sponsoring gives you the right to associate your business with the entity you are sponsoring. You do not directly control the message they place on different platforms. Instead, you work with the body to determine where and how your name will appear, the exposure you want and publicity you will get after the event is over. As such, your costs will include the fee paid for sponsorship, product giveaways, ad signage, and the time and resources your teams spend while running the sponsorship. The benefits of sponsorship include:
- Building brand awareness
- Shaping your brand image and customer attitude
- Puts you in front of your target market
- You can engage the audience
- Creates strong leads
Qualitative vs. quantitative medium
Advertising is mostly a quantitative marketing medium. It involves crafting messages to sell your brand to the customers. This requires that you understand the main benefit your product offers and how it solves the problem your customer has. Advertising is a numbers game where you measure how much business or leads your ads are generating from the different media. The end goal is to motivate the leads and make a sale.
Sponsorship, on the other hand, offers a qualitative medium that allows you to associate your business with an event or organization. It seeks to influence how the market perceives your brand image. Sponsorship targets customer attitude, relations, and positive reaction. For instance, coca-cola may sponsor different events like American Idol or Basketball tournaments that influence the buying attitude. This way, customers will involuntarily choose their brand.
Both sponsorship and advertising are essential in the marketing mix. They overlap but still play critical roles in promoting your business and increasing sales. The ultimate goal is to generate the right reaction that motivates customers to purchase your products. It also involves positioning your brand as the best offer for your customers. This means you must invest in providing high-quality products and services.