Marketing

Can forming a sporting partnership boost your business? These small businesses think so

Carly Greenwood /

angelique kerber

Slim Secrets teamed up with tennis star Angelique Kerber in 2016.

Whether it’s supplying the Commonwealth Games, sponsoring a Grand Prix or teaming up with a brand ambassador, commercial sporting arrangements have long been touted as a “secret sauce” to success. 

But what does that success look like for brands?

For each of these businesses below, the benefit of sporting partnerships comes in different forms. We look at some of the ways businesses have benefited from sports sponsorships.

Shoreline Sports Floors — 2018 Commonwealth Games

Competing against companies from the US and Europe might be intimidating for a small regional business with 12 employees, but coming off a contract for the 2015 Netball World Cup, Shoreline managing director Troy Marquart said his company appreciated the opportunity to show off its products.

A competitive tender process ended with the regional sprung timber floor provider securing a lucrative contract to floor the Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. 

“We believe that our success in securing this lucrative contract is a major win for the Central Coast,” Marquart said at the time, seeing the opportunity as the start of future employment opportunities for the region. 

The Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre will host badminton, powerlifting, weightlifting, wrestling and opening/closing ceremonies during the 2018 Games.

Slim Secrets – 2016 Australian Open

With brands like Nike and Apple luring household names to spruik their product, you would be forgiven for thinking that a small business wouldn’t have the bells and whistles to lure a sportsperson to promote their business. However, local health food brand Slim Secrets did just that in 2016, pairing up with women’s tennis sensation and former world number one Angelique Kerber.

“We’re looking at someone that could grow our brand globally,” Slim Secrets founder Sharon Thurin told SmartCompany at the time.

The founder argued that Kerber’s global appeal — with tennis becoming increasingly popular in countries like China and Japan — would help Slim Secrets at a time when getting products to stay on supermarket shelves was tough.

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio – 2017 Australian Grand Prix

For Melbourne’s B&P Sweet Studio (Burch & Purchese) a partnership with the Australian Grand Prix was a no-brainer, after many years catering for brands and partners around the track.

“The decision to partner was an obvious one for us,” says Burch & Purchese co-owner and pastry chef Darren Purchese.

“It gives us access and exposure to clients we may not have had previously.”

For Purchese, who started his career in kitchens across the UK and France before moving to Australia and eventually setting up his high-end sweet studio on Chapel Street, it’s also an opportunity to tap into local customers.

“The networking and opportunities for myself are invaluable in establishing my business and personal brand in Melbourne and beyond as the ‘go to’ pastry chef for all of the prestigious events,” he says. 

For Purchese, the partnership has meant his high-end dessert emporium has more brand awareness than ever before — and with a high-end customer.

However, Purchese cautions business owners not to simply focus on brand awareness as a measure of success for any partnership. It is, he says, “an opportunity to get ‘add on’ value’”.

“I make sure my business has the opportunity to tap into a brand’s database, to have an opportunity to get extra revenue from catering or book sales,” he says. 

“Make sure you can really maximise the partnership and make it work harder than just putting your logo on a partnership page.”

Getting in the door

While sponsorships can bring benefits to your business, it’s worth making sure any partnership you enter into aligns with your goals, objectives and target audience.

When it comes to looking for sporting partnerships, there are myriad opportunities available. Most major sporting events will advertise for sponsors and suppliers in the lead up to the event. The first step for businesses is to identify the sports they want to be aligned with, and then seek out available sponsorships via the appropriate sporting body’s website. Many of these opportunities are available well in advance of the event, so it’s best to start thinking about potential sponsorships 12 months out.

For major events, like the 2018 Commonwealth Games, suppliers are sought via a tender process run by the local government (in this case to the Queensland Government). The Commonwealth Games procurement supplier information sessions were held in June 2014, which means businesses need to be prepared to plan in advance. Staying in touch with your local government and relevant business chambers should mean you are informed about opportunities in your area.

NOW READ: Sports marketing a new ball game as brands flock to AFL Women’s League

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Carly Greenwood

Carly Greenwood is SmartCompany's content marketing manager.

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