Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Sponsorships and Small Businesses

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Sponsorships and Small Businesses

Article excerpt


Cet article presente un modele conceptuel pour l'utilisation du patronage, et decrit ses effets sur plusieurs types de publics. Des questions d'ordre strategique sont abordees, telles que les conditions sous lesquelles les petites entreprises peuvent decider d'y avoir recours. L'article s'acheve sur des suggestions permettant d'evaluer les resultats obtenus par des activites patronees par ces organisations.

Sponsorships may be defined as investments in causes or events to support overall corporate objectives (for example, by enhancing company image) or marketing objectives (such as increasing brand awareness). They are not usually related to traditional media buying channels. Sponsorships can provide funds to a wide variety of organizations and activities, including sports, music, cultural, charitable, public television, and community events.

Traditionally, large corporations have provided major funding for the biggest and most visible sponsored events (e.g., Hands Across America). The use of sponsorships has grown as products have become more similar and the need for image marketing has increased. Use of sponsorships has more than tripled in the last five years, with demonstrated results in many companies. For example, AnheuserBusch spends 25 percent of its $300 million marketing budget on sponsorships, and has done extensive analyses that indicate event-based marketing increases its sales and market share.

Today, many smaller firms are discovering that sponsorships can be a cost-effective way to achieve their communication goals. For example, after years of big businesses sponsoring big-time college athletics, small businesses have begun to sponsor lesser college sports. The number of firms sponsoring events has doubled since 1980, and the number of special events marketing companies (able to provide guidance to sponsors without in-house expertise) has more than tripled.

In spite of the present and growing importance of sponsorships, little research has been conducted in this area. A review of the literature provides little insight into conceptual underpinnings of sponsorships, conditions under which they are most useful, factors critical to their design and implementation, or methods for assessing their effects. These gaps in our knowledge are particularly troubling to researchers interested in small business management because sponsorships are a potentially important component of the promotions mix for small companies. Accordingly, this article provides a preliminary exploration of sponsorships from the perspective of small business management.


Common models of the effects of promotions do not explicitly recognize the role of sponsorships, but a model can be developed based on models of the public relations function, which view the effects of company activities on different publics. Figure 1 provides a conceptual framework for understanding the role of sponsorships in companies' promotional plans. The framework is fairly general and can be used to understand the effects of a wide variety of sponsorships (e.g., sports, music) on a diverse set of sponsors.

As depicted in figure 1, sponsorships affect a wide variety of publics in several different ways. The use of sponsorships is efficient, because they can be used to define a corporation's personality to its many publics simultaneously. In addition, sponsorships can provide small businesses with essential flexibility. Their effects on targeted groups can be enhanced by careful planning, media selection, and budget allocation.

Sponsorships affect both current and potential consumers of a sponsor's products or services. They can create awareness of new products and enhance the salience of brands in the maturity phase of the product life cycle by generating public relations coverage and providing opportunities for related promotions and onsite activities. …

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