There’s always a good time to consider the merits of grassroots sponsorship

Michael Field (Workflo)

by Michael Field, managing director, Workflo Solutions

THINK about sports sponsorship and thoughts immediately turn to the mega bucks deals done in the Premier League or Formula One. 

Of course, the reason why sponsorship has achieved high profile as a marketing technique is to relate the power of elevating ‘the brand’ as an associated element of a premium sporting event.

After all, if getting your brand on TV in front of a global audience of billions on a regular basis achieves your objective, then the same might be said for making the commercial reality of sports sponsorship work for you at grassroots level. Okay, you may not have the TV cameras thrust upon your brand, but the profound satisfaction in helping a local sports club, or a children’s football or rugby team with some form of support and assistance, is inherently a far more powerful use of your time and effort within your community.

In essence, there are two basic routes into sponsorship – with the heart and with the head. Most global sponsorship deals are done with a head for the commercial return. However, sponsoring a junior club or an individual who excels at a sport is invariably driven by the heart.

Very recently, I took the decision to sponsor 16-year-old Chloe Grant from Perth, one of the hottest young prospects in UK motorsport. The acclaim this young lady has achieved has been staggering.  She races in the GB4 Championship – a new motor racing championship for open wheel, formula racing cars in the UK.

She started her motorsport career on the karting circuit but the new GB4 Championship will see her race on some of the UK’s most illustrious venues associated with motorsport in the coming months, including Silverstone, Oulton Park, Snetterton, and Donington Park.

Chloe started karting in 2013 when she was seven years old. By 2017 she was racing in Minimax Karts and that year won the East of Scotland Kart Club (ESKC) Championship and was also named the Most Improved Minimax Driver of The Year.

Sponsoring Chloe as she steps up to the next level on the motor racing circuit was something I was very keen to do. Her focus and dedication to the sport is incredible and I genuinely believe she has all the makings of a future champion in the years ahead. 

We sponsored Chloe for several reasons. Not only is she a very talented and engaging young lady who has worked tremendously hard to get this far, but a key philosophy of Workflo Solutions is to instil a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility across our staff – we have continually pioneered a strong community benefits policy. 

Invariably, though, our young people very often lack the grassroots recognition they need to help them get onto the first rung of their personal ladder and this needs to change. Every business can learn from this.

This is as true for developing the nascent talent of tomorrow’s sporting heroes as it is for any young person in the creative arts industry – a musician, dancer or artist who perhaps would value an injection of ‘corporate’ cash or help towards the purchase of equipment, or the payment of tuition fees, to help them achieve their goals.

At this level, you shouldn’t be looking at an immediate commercial return. Anything that gives you that is a bonus. The appeal is in the help, support, and encouragement you are offering. There will be a return – of sorts. Your sponsorship will have brand recognition/tie-in where relevant. 

Chloe, for example, has our brand livery on her GB4 car and the PR spin off we have attained has been fantastic. Sponsoring a local junior football team would see branding on the shirts or displayed prominently on perimeter boards– a highly visible means of marketing in front of assorted mums and dads every week. Who knows where that could lead to!

All this, nowadays, which can be amplified through social media. If you or your staff members are social media enthusiasts, sponsorship is made for it. You might have to commit to regular updates that will encourage people to follow you on various social media platforms, but that’s no bad thing! New followers should always be welcome.

It ticks lots of virtuous boxes – commitment to sport, to young people, to your community. 

It’s a very satisfying thing to do, more so when you and your brand becomes an integral part of the success! 

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