Video Deep Dive: Local Sponsorships & Local Search; Get Ahead by Doing Good
Mike Blumenthal


This is the 29th installment this year of our Deep Dive Into Local series. For the week ending Monday, August 1st, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal shared their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video, including links and commentary on critical happenings of the previous week is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week.

In this discussion Mary and Mike talk about how local sponsorships can be found and used to increase your local prominence both offline and on.

Mary: Megan Hannity at ZipSprout did a nice article that talks about gaining local sponsorships and some of the things that she learned in seven months of trying to actually help local businesses gain sponsorships. And this is something that I’ve been involved with quite a bit over the last few years in helping agencies and local businesses try to get links and decent citations from other local websites. And in some cases, this is pretty straightforward. They might be having a Komen Run for the Cure event and you go on their website, and it tells you exactly what you can get for what levels of sponsorship and all you really have to do is write a check.

But I think in a lot of places, that’s not the type of sponsorship that a local business might be most interested in doing and that … there’s no rules. There’s really no guide or no rules as to how you go about doing that. And in most cases, I found that the first thing you need to do is just start talking to them. Pick up the phone, go to their office and just start talking to them and tell them that … and be very straightforward about what you want. And you don’t have to always couch it in saying that you want a link. You can say, “Wouldn’t it be nice for me to have a referral from your site to my site,” and “That I’m wanting to build some good community karma, that that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing it that I believe in this cause, that this cause is related to my business, that I think I can perhaps gain some new customers from it.” So don’t be deceptive about what your motivation is because they can understand that motivation and —

Mike: Another point in the article that I thought was — yeah, I think it’s a great one but I think one of the things that you said that maybe you need to reemphasized is trying to find not for profits that are closer to your mission.

Mary: Right.

Mike: So, for example, No Kid Hungry, which is about food would be closer to a restaurant mission than say a Run for Cancer, as an example. The other that I thought was interesting in the article is just that you might not need to use cash. You might be able to work with in-kind services. So let’s say you’re a grocery store and you donate hot dogs or buns or some other way of achieving the same thing, right? You may find that that’s actually more valuable to the not-for-profit than cash and easier for them to wrap their heads around.

Mary: Most definitely, and a lot of times no one’s ever come to some of these little nonprofits offering them anything. They’re always out begging for help from wherever they can get it. So if you can think things through — talk to them, find out what would be most beneficial for them and think things through as to how that can best work for both sides of the equation. Sometimes you can come up with a really nice relationship that’s ongoing, that you can both benefit from and feel good about for years.

Mike: Right, and slightly different, too, between a single location’s need and a multi-location’s way of implementing, right? As with many things, the more locations, the more complicated some of these tactics get. I think one of the things about Garret’s company is that they resolved some of those. They do the research ahead of time to find different people in different markets with similar needs that a national brand could go to Garret’s company — what’s the name of his company again?

Mary: ZipSprout.

Mike: ZipSprout. Could go to that company and have half the equation somewhat resolved. Now, again, it’s not expensive and, as you pointed out, it’s not even clear which of these multi-location businesses would be aware of how beneficial it might be, but I think that the issue of doing this at scale, it gets complicated. And it doesn’t … some of these, some parts of it don’t scale that well in the sense of one interaction with a national brand and 100 links from the same — like you said, if it’s all from the same site, even if it’s a 100 links from the same site, it’s not as valuable as having 100 links from a 100 different sites. So perhaps working through an intermediary is a valuable tactic in this situation for multi-location chains.

Mary: Yeah. Unfortunately, most of the big chains, they tend to revert to what’s cheap, what’s easy — under the guise of calling it scalable. To me, scalable just means cheap and easy now because that seems to be the way that big brands think about it a lot of the time and it’s something —

Mike: Maybe it’s just the type of big brands you and I see?

Mary: Yeah. ZipSprout can be useful, but I can see how they could turn it into something that’s not going to help them at all and that could even hurt them rather than help them.

Mike: Right. Well, I think that’s true. I mean, for example, I mean, just some ideas that come off the top of my head, a chain of assisted living homes working with the local groups, finding dementia support, for example, right? I think those kinds of things can be very powerful.

Mary: Yes, but I think a lot of it comes down to getting the local operators involved in every case and when that’s not possible or … some brands don’t even want that to happen. They want the local operators to sit down, shut up. And so I — it can be very effective, but I’m not sure that every brand quite understands what they need to do to support their locations.

Mike: That makes sense. Is there anything else on the topic?

Mary: No. I mean, I could talk all day on it, but no.

Mike: All righty. Well, with that, we’ll say goodbye. Thanks for joining us.

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