Looking for a different way to bring brand recognition to your company? Try sponsorships -- many small businesses sponsor events or attract outside sponsors as a way to gain notice and prestige.

The ways to go about starting sponsorships are endless, but here are a few ways you can establish one for your small business.

Privately owned Mobile-Shop Company, which manufactures, sells and services tools and parts in a portable organizer, offers a few ways to become a sponsor.

This company's marketing efforts since its product first became commercially available in May 2004 mostly consisted of exhibits at national industry trade shows. It needed a way to stand out, however, and to promote its brand above all the competition.

Now, as part of its long-term marketing effort to reach a wide range of potential customers, Mobile-Shop Company is currently involved in two sponsorships. It is one of seven national sponsors of Maintenance Mania, an annual contest for maintenance personnel that is the joint effort of Home Depot ( HD) and the National Apartment Association. Entrants showcase their home-repair and diagnostic skills, with prizes awarded to the best contestants.

"This is one of our biggest trade shows of the year, and is well attended by many of our current and prospective customers. Further, it has helped to solidify our relationship with Home Depot Supply, with whom we have recently signed an agreement to become a national distributor of our products," says Melissa Houser, the vice president of Mobile-Shop marketing.

In addition, Mobile-Shop is sponsoring an online course developed by SatisFacts Research, "The Impact of Maintenance on Resident Retention."

This seminar, which will attract Mobile-Shop's ideal clientele, is offered by Grace Hill, a leading provider of education to the multifamily-dwelling industry.

"Both Grace Hill and SatisFacts are recognized leaders in their respective fields in a primary industry that we are trying to penetrate, so we knew that we could reach our desired market through the sponsorship," Houser explains.

Let Them Come to You

French Tuesdays, a weekly social networking event based in New York City, brings in $1.5 million a year thanks in part to champagne sponsor Laurent Perrier. The company came on board in September 2005, two years after the party's inception.

How did French Tuesdays founder Pierre Battu land such a prominent sponsor?

A sales employee of Laurent Perrier attended the parties on a regular basis and liked what he saw. He approached Battu and laid out the possibility for taking the event to a different level. "He eventually referred us to the head of sales for the East Coast, which got us in contact with the vice president of Laurent Perrier of the U.S.," says Battu.

This sponsorship has enabled French Tuesdays to expand and enrich its events. "For us, it gives the possibility to produce a sophisticated party," says Battu.

Another big-name sponsor, Air France ( AKH), came on board in September 2006; high-end caviar provider Petrossian has followed.

These sponsors provide over $500,000 annually to French Tuesdays, which helps fund superior entertainment.

Next up, Air France is sponsoring a French Tuesdays world tour, to spread the concept to cities from Tokyo, Dubai and Paris to Prague and London. The airline will cover the travel expenses for featured French Tuesdays entertainers and staff.

Give and Take

Gigapixel Creative, a graphic design company located in Manhattan, actually does nearly all its business through sponsorship referrals, events and other nontraditional marketing methods.

Why go this route? "It is really all about being in front of the right audiences," says CEO Yao-Hui Huang.

Gigapixel Creative was recently a sponsor for a Chinese real estate forum at the Princeton Club, ensuring that the company was put in front of top real estate developers.

On the other end, Gigapixel Creative has spawned The Hatchery, which is essentially an " American Idol meets venture capital" event, says Huang.

Entrepreneurs at Hatchery events are either Web- or technology-based, and they speak about their start-ups as well as request funding or further business development in front of key players. The events are sponsored by law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, which also enabled Huang to meet the partners and Gigapixel Creative to receive some of the company's business.

It aids both sides, though. "Being a sponsor at a Hatchery event brings brand recognition, prestige and business," says Huang.

So how can your business find suitable events to sponsor?

Web networking is an efficient and effective way to identify, attract and contact prospective candidates.

"Our experience is that a well-crafted, personalized email with a concise value proposition and call to action (suggesting a time for a call to discuss further, for example) for the prospective sponsor, yields results," says Jay Turo of business-plan development and venture-capital research company Growthink.

When evaluating your marketing strategies, consider sponsorship opportunities. They offer not only broader brand recognition, but also may bring new business.

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