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We’ve spent time discussing the importance of healthcare events for patients – their ability to educate and reach patients on a personal level all while promoting a healthcare provider’s expertise and services. But, there’s another side of the coin – community-based events.

Healthcare and community go hand-in-hand; without one, the other cannot thrive. Healthcare providers offer a variety of services, from educational events to service lines, with the intention of improving the quality of life for community members. In turn, community members, enhance the reputation of a healthcare provider through word-of-mouth marketing, service line enrollment and event attendance. It’s a strong relationship that can oftentimes be made even stronger by participating in community sponsorships, which present an opportunity for healthcare providers to support local nonprofits, small businesses and other organizations.

Before we jump into how to find the perfect sponsorship for your healthcare brand, let’s talk about the state of sponsorship in the world today. According to a sponsorship report released by ESP Properties, sponsorship spending is expected to grow by 4.5 percent in the U.S. in 2018, which will bring total spend to $24.2 billion. Sports events see the most sponsorship dollars by a landslide, with a projected spend of $17.05 billion in 2018. Following suit is entertainment events with $2.4 billion, cause-based events with $2.14 billion and events for the arts with $1.03 billion. Sponsors typically fall under one of three industries – finance, law and healthcare – and, as indicated in an infographic created by Sponsez, sponsors list “increasing brand loyalty,” “increasing visibility” and “changing/refining image” as the primary motivator behind sponsoring an event.

In addition to the reasons stated above, there are variety of other incentives associated with sponsoring a community event. Supporting local businesses and organizations highlights a commitment to community affairs outside of the healthcare sphere, which improves brand reputation and industry leadership. Plus, sponsorship is a great form of marketing that calls attention to your brand and reaches audiences in a new environment. That said, as with any marketing endeavor, you have to have a solid means of measuring ROI. The Association of National Advertisers notes that “only 4 percent of marketers are ‘completely satisfied’ with their ability to measure ROI on sponsorships,” so, if you do choose the route of sponsorships, you need to set some guidelines. When analyzing reach, be sure to account for people attending the event and those who will receive other forms marketing pertaining to the sponsored event, like radio commercials, press releases and direct mail. If you’re looking for a more tangible means of measuring the impact of your sponsorship, your doctors, nurses and staff can ask patients if they noticed the hospital’s sponsorship in the community.

From athletic events like 5Ks and marathons to galas and fundraisers, healthcare providers are typically approached with multiple sponsorship opportunities throughout the year. While every event presents value in some way, deciding on which events to sponsor should be done with careful consideration. There are a range of factors that should be evaluated to maximize the return on investment, for both the healthcare brand and the event host. First, do the research and determine if the brands you’re sponsoring align with your brand’s core values. McKinsey and Company stresses that brand strength contributes to 60 to 70 percent of overall sales, so, ultimately, this sponsorship should bolster your brand’s identity. The same goes for other brands that are sponsoring the event – if their core values are vastly different from your brand’s core values, then you may want to reconsider. Next, take a look at the event’s theme, location and size and ask yourself, “Is this something that will resonate with my hospital’s core demographics?” Allowing this data to inform your decision will ensure your sponsorship reaches the right audience.

Another way to maximize efficiency when it comes time to budget is creating an approval process for every sponsorship opportunity that arises. Create a checklist that covers everything you are looking for in a potential sponsor and include measurable information like the organization’s size and location, annual funding, social media following, major donors and current sponsors. Look at who the organization has partnered with in the past and contemplate potential networking opportunities. Remember that working with a local nonprofit or charity can be a huge morale booster, so reach out to your internal team and get their suggestions on the best local organizations to sponsor.

The beauty of community sponsorships is two-fold, allowing brands to strengthen their presence in local markets all while making a significant impact. Healthcare brands are pillars of the community and this often results in an abundance of sponsorship opportunities, which can be a blessing – and a curse if dollars are not spent wisely. To maximize your sponsorship’s ROI, it’s important to approach the decision methodically, keeping core objectives in mind, developing a selection process and measuring the outcome of your investment. As a healthcare provider, you can cause real change in the community and being strategic about your sponsorships will guarantee your investment makes an impact, establishes long-term brand value and stays within budget.

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