To Get Your Name Out, Be a Good Sport
In 2002, the $1.3-billion-asset credit union signed a 10-year deal for the naming rights to the home field of the Kansas City T-Bones, calling it CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Exposure Any Time the Park Is Mentioned
The baseball organization offers a philosophy and target market similar to the credit union's: a focus on families and children, indicates Jean Hughes, CommunityAmerica’s senior VP of strategic services. Hughes credits the ballpark for helping the credit union's brand awareness grow nearly 400% since 2002 in the Kansas City area. The credit union conducts an annual survey to measure brand awareness. "What we find is we get exposure for CommunityAmerica Ballpark any time the team is mentioned," Hughes says. "In the newspaper, on TV sports broadcasts, magazines promoting Kansas City, they talk about the ballpark."
Whatever the sponsorship, it should be tied to the core message the credit union is trying to communicate, Hughes suggests. It can be a worthwhile investment, “as long it fits with the image that you are trying to portray,” she says.
Sponsorships have potential beyond awareness. These include reaching younger age groups, promoting new products and services, allowing cross promotions, such as affiliated checking accounts, lending a glamorous image or a connection with a healthy activity for the sponsoring company, and providing a morale boost for a company.
Sponsorship Doesn't Have to Be Expensive
Sponsorships also offer community and SEG-based credit unions a chance to focus on a group, and they don't have to be prohibitively expensive. College, minor league, and niche sports offer lower-cost opportunities, and there are recreational teams and tournaments galore seeking sponsors.
"Credit unions doing it properly can identify these opportunities, especially the secondary sports and local sports programs, to really get the word out," says David Carter, founder of The Sports Business Group, a California research and marketing company. "Identify potential opportunities where the fans, or the participants, might be exactly the target market you are trying to reach at the credit union."
Debrah Dippen-Watterson is assistant vice president for brand strategy and communications at CUNA Mutual Group. This story first appeared in CUNA Mutual Group’s on-line magazine Added Dimensions at http://www.cunamutual.com/cmg/addedDimensions/articleSearch/0,1778,9054,00.html. Reprinted with permission.
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