It’s pretty obvious from the numbers of municipalities that attended our Municipal Forum on Sponsorship a few weeks ago that more and more towns, cities and public institutions are getting serious about partnering with the corporate sector as a means of off-setting costs and improving programs and services. And the time for municipalities to get “in the game” couldn’t be better. Here’s why:
- the corporate shift from signs, banners and “in-your-face” messaging to more authentic ways of connecting with customers has made it possible for municipalities to engage with the private sector in more meaningful ways, thus minimizing the fears of public backlash for the over-commercialization or “selling out” of municipal assets, programs and services;
- the steady growth of sponsorship is a sign at many companies are looking to break through the advertising clutter and reach customers in less traditional ways; and municipalities offer a wide range of “untapped” opportunities to connect with customers in new environments when they are receptive to messages;
- the increased popularity of naming rights as a branding tool provides opportunities for municipalities to secure long-term funding for capital or program improvements for minimal servicing costs; and,
- the political will to explore partnership opportunities with the private sector as a means of reducing costs to taxpayers appears to be gaining broader support as elected representatives are becoming increasingly sensitive that innovative, new sources of revenue need to be explored.
That’s the good news. The challenge is that municipalities and public institutions must be both more professional in their approach towards the positioning and marketing of their assets and “nimble” in their ability to respond to the unique requirements of potential sponsors.
The bottom line is that if municipalities take a more strategic approach towards sponsorship and naming rights activities, they can achieve their goal of finding new sources of revenue without risking damage to their brand or corporate values. And there has never been a better time to get started.