Sponsorships-Why They Help You Overcome "Fear of Strangers"

Didn’t your mother ever tell you, “Don’t talk to strangers?” Most people have taken this warning to heart. That’s one of the things that makes sales a tough profession. When you are a stranger, people don’t want to talk to you.

However, if they know something about you or your company, they are more likely to open their door to you and invite you in for a conversation.

Why does Budweiser Brewery spend millions of dollars a year to sponsor the NASCAR Busch series? Why does Buick sponsor Tiger Woods and golf tournaments? Why do companies spend millions each year for the naming rights of new stadiums? Why are racecars covered with so many decals that you can barely tell what color the paint job is? And why would anyone spend thousands of dollars each year just to have their small decal lost among all the others on a car moving so fast that no one can read it anyway?

The answer is because people like to do business with people they know. Even though they may not see your logo during the race, fans love to admire the cars in the winner’s circle. When images of that car are duplicated on posters, calendars, and t-shirts, they will have plenty of time to see your logo.

When people see and hear your company name in familiar settings, then they feel like they have a connection to you.

Here’s an example: a guy knocks at my business door and says, “Hello, I’m from Qualcomm.” If I wasn’t a football fan, I’d probably say “Qual … what?” and politely ask him to leave. However, I know that the San Diego Chargers play in Qualcomm Stadium, so I’d have a connection. “How about those Chargers!” I’d say, and I would invite him in. Now, I still don’t know what Qualcomm does; heck, I went to their website while writing this article and that didn’t even help much. But as a Chargers fan, I am predisposed to at least be curious about them. I have a connection. That connection must open a lot of doors for their salespeople.

How can portable restroom companies with much smaller budgets develop similar connections with their customers and within their community?

Well, even if you can’t buy the naming rights to Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm Stadium’s former name), it isn’t outside the realm of possibility to be a sponsor of the chamber of commerce golf outing, to purchase the naming rights to a kiddie soccer field, to sponsor a company bowling or softball team, or to name the benches in a local park district.

I know a car dealership that bought the naming rights to the front gate of a small zoo, a dry cleaner that paid enough to have their name placed on the Little League scoreboard, and a tavern that sponsors a town’s adult softball league.

The thing about sponsorships is to be creative. Think of sponsorships that will get your company name in front of the most customers and into the local newspapers.

A lot of portable restroom operators are asked by charities to provide their services for church fairs, cancer walks, and other nonprofit fundraisers. That kind of sponsorship may be an act of kindness, but it tends to go unnoticed. You end up working hard, paying your employees, and doing what you always do—then nobody notices.

The way to get noticed is to do the unexpected.

Just think of the possibilities: How about “The Super Sanitation Surf Championships”? (Come out to see amateur surfers get “flushed” by big waves.)

You could sponsor a $1,000 prize in an ice-fishing tournament each year. You could use your large ADA units as warming huts in this event to make a great newspaper photo!

Since your business is sanitation, how about sponsoring and organizing an annual scenic-area cleanup?

My PolyJohn teammate Ray Luden used to sponsor the entertainment between periods at minor league hockey games. He would get volunteers from the audience to race against each other pushing his restrooms down the ice. Contestants would wear loose fitting hockey pants so that as they ran down the ice pushing the toilet, their pants would start falling down around their ankles.

It was funny and the crowd loved it. And since builders in the northeast also tend to be hockey fans, Ray was no stranger when he walked onto a construction site. In fact, he was often seen as a celebrity. And that made selling his services a lot easier.

Sponsorship ideas can be civic minded, charitable, or just plain silly, but if they are memorable, your business will be too. And the next time you make a cold call, you’ll no longer be seen as a stranger, but someone with a personal connection.