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What Sponsors Want To Know

Corporate sponsors want the numbers: real data about your park users and event-goers

BY LYNN McCLURE

Moving from what you think to what you know can help bring in corporate sponsorship revenue.

When you approach a corporation with the question "How would you like to be a major sponsor of our summer concert series?" or "Would you consider becoming a corporate partner in our recreational facility?" they will likely have a few questions of their own. They may be questions you aren't prepared to answer. Questions such as:

How many people attend your concert series?

What is the age of your concert audience?

Who uses your facility?

What do you know about them?

You may be able to take a pretty good guess at crowd estimates or general age groups who use your facilities based on what you observe. But moving from what you think to what you know can help bring in corporate sponsorship revenue. User surveys can provide you with the right information to sway that corporation to write a check.

User Surveys

Companies want more access to their consumers. And you can bet they have profiles of their target audiences that guide all their marketing efforts. If you can demonstrate to them, with hard data, that their target consumer is using your facilities and registering for your programming, your job will be much easier.

A well-designed user survey can tell you exactly who is attending your events and using your facilities. It can tell you how frequently they are in your parks and whether or not they also register for sports leagues or recreation programming. It can tell you how many children they have, how much money they make, and their level of education. And it can tell you how they feel about the facilities and programs they use.

Intercepts

Setting aside several days during the summer to conduct "intercepts" is an efficient way to get a good reading on your users. Intercepts are brief surveys, conducted at locations where there is high traffic such as parks, golf courses, or recreation centers. They are conducted one-on-one. The questions may ask respondents how often they use specific facilities or programs then ask their satisfaction level. Several demographic questions will help determine age, income, and how many children are in the home. After the survey is complete, the respondent is compensated with a token of your appreciation such as a coupon for free or discounted services.

Seasonal staff members or volunteers can conduct an intercept over the course of a week. This will help keep the cost of the survey within reason. If you collect approximately 300 to 400 completed surveys, you'll have good solid survey results.

Questionnaires

If you do not have adequate staff to conduct one-on-

30 | Illinois Parks and Recreation


WHAT SPONSORS WANT TO KNOW

one interviews, have the surveys available on a table. Once the survey is completed, it can be given to a staff member present in the facility. The coupon can be awarded as soon as the survey is turned in.

A questionnaire can be inserted into programs at your performing arts events. Make an announcement before the curtain goes up to draw attention to the survey. Station staff members at the door to collect the completed surveys once the performance is over.

Using the Results

After the survey results are compiled you should have much of the information necessary to market yourself to a corporation. Say you want to pitch a corporate partner for your recreation facility. Part of the agreement may include corporate banners in the facility and their logo on your facility program guide. You'll want to find a good target audience match between the facility and the corporate partner.

For example, if adults ages 35 to 49 with a college education and three to four persons living in the home are frequent users of your facility, they may fall on the target consumer list of many local businesses. Some of these businesses may include financial investment firms, grocery stores, hospitals and health care institutions or insurance companies. Conversely, if a majority of your audience is female and between the ages of 50 and 64, investigate businesses that provide products or services to this age group.

Having information about exactly who will be seeing that corporate banner or logo at your facility will help convince your corporate partner that they are making a good marketing choice.

Additional Value of Surveys

Conducting surveys such as these on an annual basis will not only help you in the process of securing corporate sponsorship, but they are a good tool for internal use. You'll discover who your frequent users or "best customers" are.

If you provide a comment space you can tap into specific issues on the minds of your consumers. You'll discover where any problem areas arise in user satisfaction that you may not be aware of. And perhaps most valuable, if you find you have a high satisfaction level from your users, your survey results will become an important tool when going into referendum planning.

LYNN McCLURE
is the public relations director for the Illinois Association of Park Districts.

Advantages of working with a research or public relations firm for surveys

The survey instrument will be designed to give you good, usable information.

The questions will be worded so that the results are quantifiable and easy to work with.

An executive summary, following the survey, will help you get a feel for the broad implications of the survey.

Research firms have software that allows them to effectively process the survey results.

Various reports can be pulled to check level of use or attendance by gender, by age, by income and by frequency of use.

by Lynn McClure

May/June 2001 | 31


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