In part 1 of this series, we discussed the benefits of using an athlete to elevate your brand. In the final part, we’ll show you how to get the most out of a sponsorship, particularly with a sports team.
As competition between healthcare organizations intensifies, sponsorship—especially sports sponsorship—has become a valuable tool to promote a hospital or health system’s clinical expertise and to differentiate the organization in the marketplace. Connecting your “brand” to a sports team, whether at the community, collegiate or professional level, can help make your hospital or health system the preferred healthcare provider in your service area.
These sponsorships can take many forms.
For example, SPM’s client Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) comprises the official “Team Physicians” for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire, and DePaul University’s men’s and women’s athletics. As “Team Physicians,” MOR’s sports medicine specialists provide the orthopedic care for all the players on these teams. Then, MOR’s marketing efforts promoting these affiliations, created in partnership with SPM, shape how people think about MOR, instilling in people’s minds that “MOR must have outstanding physicians if all these teams have chosen MOR to administer orthopedic care to their players. And if MOR is great for elite athletes, it’s certainly great for me.”
Similarly, as the official “healthcare provider” to both the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs, the Sports Medicine & Performance Center at The University of Kansas Hospital provides care and treatment for players during training, practice, and games, while also providing first-aid care for fans at every home game.
This affiliation with the Royals and Chiefs allows the organization to position itself as the place to get “big league care” for pro athletes, weekend warriors, and anyone else who wants to stay in the game.
Of course, relationships between organizations and sponsors can take many forms. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, for instance, is using one of its sports affiliations—the Milwaukee Bucks—to develop two new health-oriented facilities, The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center and the McKinley Health Center.
Other sponsorship avenues exist as well. Many healthcare organizations successfully sponsor community races, secure naming rights to stadiums, use sports celebrities as spokespersons, or simply pay for signage in and around stadiums, to name a few.
Regardless of its nature, your sports sponsorship offers a unique way to connect with patients, caregivers, employees, and community leaders, or with whomever your target audience is.
Getting the Most out of Sponsorships
One obvious advantage to sponsorship is the exposure you receive by associating your brand with a (popular) team, event or athlete. But simply increasing brand visibility via sponsorship—while necessary—is rarely sufficient to actually shape consumer perceptions and affect behavior.
At the very least, unleashing the power or sports sponsorship requires:
- Identifying what, exactly, you want to implicitly or explicitly communicate to people about your sponsorship. Why are you sponsoring this team, this athlete, this event? What do you want consumers to take away from your sponsorship? If you don’t convey the meaning of your sponsorship, it will be lost on your target.
- Integrating the sponsorship with your organization’s marketing goals. Sponsorship should not be a “bolted on extra” that is unconnected with how you are positioning your organization and what you want to accomplish in the marketplace. Rather, your sponsorship (sports or otherwise) should contribute to how you want people to think about and, ultimately use, your organization.
- Investing in creating a meaningful link between your hospital or healthcare system and the sponsored property. Identifying what you want to communicate about your sponsorship and integrating it into your overall marketing program is great, but if you don’t specifically promote your sponsorship, your target audience (even if it’s your own employees) won’t know that it exists. The harsh truth is that if you don’t have the money to market your sponsorship, you probably shouldn’t buy into the sponsorship in the first place!
Sponsorship can be a great way to elevate perceptions of your hospital or healthcare system and, in turn, can help you achieve your business objectives. But unleashing the power of your sponsorship, no matter how big or the form it takes, requires identifying what you want the sponsorship to accomplish, making sure it is well-integrated into your overall marketing efforts, and sufficiently investing in promoting the sponsorship to your target audiences.
SPM has worked with clients across the country to help them merchandise and market their sponsorships and to maximize return on their sponsorship investment.
If you’d like to learn more about how SPM can help you better leverage your sponsorships, please shoot us an email!
Sponsorship can be a great way to elevate perceptions of your brand & achieve your business objectives. #hcmktg @SPM_Marketing
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