Sports sponsorships can accelerate your marketing

From local Little League to the major leagues, hospitals and health systems have long partnered with sports teams to accelerate their marketing.

With increasing competition, healthcare organizations are finding that partnering with sports teams, sponsoring events and buying naming rights helps to build name recognition while aligning their brand with health and fitness.

Sports marketing can reach a broad audience efficiently and in as many venues as possible. At the same time, sponsorships provide a way to recruit and attract talent and boost employee morale all while contributing to the community.

I recently had the honor to present the topic “Shift for Health: Marketing a Healthy Lifestyle and Healthy Brand” with Cynthia Schmidt, chief of marketing for VCU Health in Richmond, Va., at the Hospital Marketing National Conference.

VCU Health believes in the power of sponsorships to support their population health initiatives and their brand. VCU Health has leveraged significant sports sponsorships — from the NCAA tournament, to the UCI international cycling championship, to a PGA golf sponsorship to local marathons and wellness initiatives— to promote health, solicit endorsements from the healthcare influencer market and enhance the reputation of VCU Health.

Here is some of the work we did for VCU Health to showcase their sports sponsorship:

Picking the right sponsorship for your organization is a matter of aligning your strategies with opportunities. You can’t be everywhere so it’s important to determine where your audiences are and align their interests to your mission.

Here are five tips Cynthia and I gave at the conference to help you run, jump, leap, cycle, swing, kick or throw your way into sports marketing:

  • Sports marketing is a team sport. It involves numerous departments in your organization, multiple teams and community groups. Don’t go it alone.
  • Look beyond the local. Successful sports marketing means activating your brand outside of its local footprint. Use social media and content creation to engage those who can’t attend the events. It’s a way of promoting your reputation to a larger and broader audience.
  • Synch up your brand with the sponsorship. Just any team or sport won’t do. Be sure the sponsorship matches your mission and lives your values. Customize the message with the medium. Make sure you’re not just slapping your logo on the event, but that it feels like there’s a reason for you to be there.
  • Ask for more. You will usually be offered a pretty standard sponsorship package. Ask what else you can do. What you can add. You’d be surprised at what else sponsors will allow you to do. All you have to do is ask.
  • Sports sponsorship as a launch platform. The sponsorship is not the finish line, it’s the starting block. Don’t forget about your brand and your ability to communicate your mission and vision. A sponsorship is an opportunity to start a conversation and a relationship with your community.

By following these steps and looking for opportunities, your healthcare brand can capitalize on one of the few things that bring us together – sports.