The Essential Guide to Building Local Relationships and Goodwill, Nationwide

Did you know that, if you add a certain secret ingredient to your marketing efforts, you can:

  • Earn tons of local links
  • Build solid relationships in a specific locale
  • Genuinely benefit local community members

All in one fell swoop?

I didn’t either. Thankfully, Megan Hannay and Garrett French, co-founders of ZipSprout stopped by to tell us all about that secret ingredient called local goodwill.

What is local goodwill? And how will it help you earn more local links and build stronger local relationships? You’re about to find out, in addition to so much more.

In this post, we’ll dig into all things local marketing, including why local goodwill matters, a step by step process for finding, qualifying, and reaching out to local partners, examples of local marketing campaigns in action, and tons of expert best practices throughout, all courtesy of Megan and Garrett.

If you’d rather watch or listen to this content, you can sign up to view it in webinar form. Otherwise, let’s get started.

What is local goodwill?

Before we dig into how to build local goodwill and relationships, let’s define what local goodwill means.

Local goodwill is doing visible good for a local community that you can then use to benefit your brand as well.

In Garrett’s words, local goodwill is like beauty: It’s in the eye of the beholder.

But what does that mean?

It means a campaign will have successfully garnered some local goodwill if the community members walked away thinking “Wow, that brand really cares and contributes.”

Local goodwill is different than an ad impression, because it’s a significant contribution or benefit to a local community. From a potential customer’s perspective, there’s a big difference between seeing a brand on a billboard, and seeing that same brand as a sponsor of a 5K benefitting a charity close to their heart.

Local goodwill is tangible and visible; it’s not an anonymous donation or contribution. (Though those are great too if you’re just wanting to be nice.) Basically, think of local goodwill as a strategic, public placement that both you and that local community will benefit from.

Why build local goodwill?

There are many ways you can spend your marketing budget, and you have tons of options. So why use it to build local goodwill?

Using some of your marketing budget to give back to a community is a great investment, because it comes back to you in the form of great branding, local links, and even some new clients.

Another nice thing about including local goodwill in your marketing is that there’s a ton of diversity when it comes to doing good locally. There are so many different kinds of local opportunities that both national brands and SMBs can take advantage of it.

Think of it this way: All of your customers are also local customers, in the sense that each one of them is connected to and part of a larger community. So if you build a presence and get more visibility by doing good within that specific community, you’ll get even more customers.

The benefits of building local goodwill

On the tactical side, there are a ton of tangible benefits from building local goodwill. Here are just a few:

  • Local links that can help your location page, or your SMB website.
  • Booths at local events
  • Networking and recruiting opportunities to help you meet employees or clients in specific areas
  • Local press mentions
  • Your logo on their signage
  • Local branding opportunities
  • Posts on local blogs
  • Mentions in social media
  • Mentions in local email newsletters
  • Opportunities to donate merch for goodie bags
  • Goodwill – it feels good to do good!

Of course there are more, but this list should give you an idea of how many tangible benefits you can earn from a well-placed local donation or sponsorship.

Running local campaigns: 3 proven tactics

Now that we’ve established what local goodwill is, why you should build it, and what benefits you get from it, let’s look at how specific companies have garnered local goodwill to help build their brands, link profiles, and customer bases.

For some context, ZipSprout did a survey of around 25,000 local sponsorship pages across the US, and compiled a list of who they were all linking out to, in order to see which companies are sponsoring local events, festivals, and non-profits.

The goal was to see which companies have really made local marketing a part of their strategy, and how they were doing it. All of the examples you’re about to see are from that list, so these are proven tactics already working out there in the real world.

Tactic #1: Donate money to causes

For some companies, local marketing is simply putting your profits in a place that will help others.

Tito’s Vodka (ranked #12 on ZipSprout’s list) is a top example of a brand doing this type of goodwill on a local level. (And we’re not just talking about providing a nice buzz for people looking to let their hair down on the weekends.)

If you look at Tito’s Twitter feed, you’ll notice that the vast majority of their tweets aren’t about drinking, partying, or cocktail recipes like you might expect. Sure, the occasional pic of a frosty-looking Bloody Mary makes an appearance, but their tweets are mostly about the causes they support.

In one recent example, Tito’s partnered with a local bar in Philadelphia, PA to donate $1 of every Tito’s cocktail sold at that bar to United for Puerto Rico in light of the recent storms there.

Another example is that Tito’s hosted a stage at the Austin City Limits music festival. Both Tito’s and ACL are Austin-born, and by sponsoring a stage (with a tent over it as well!), Tito’s continued building relationships with the Austin community.

According to C3 Presents, ACL injected $194 million into the Austin economy in 2014, and has contributed nearly $1 billion in economic activity from 2006 to 2014, so that’s definitely some local goodwill Tito’s participated in.

Megan talked to the Tito’s team and they said yes, they make their money from selling vodka, but a big part of their brand is giving back to the community because it’s something they care about. Their owner really embraces it, and the brand reflects that in their actions.

Tactic #2: Involve and empower your employees

Edward Jones (ranked #23 in ZipSprout’s list) uses local marketing as a chance to empower their employees. They’re a financial advising firm, and they have offices across the US, with typically one financial advisor who builds relationships in the community to get clients for their services.

Edward Jones actively encourages their employees to serve their communities outside of their professional capacity as financial advisors. They put their money where their mouth is, and sponsor a ton of local events with company money, knowing they’ll see the return in local relationships and new clients.

So, another great way to think of local goodwill is how it can help employees in their own relationship-building efforts, while also helping your local branches get stronger.

Tactic #3: Sponsor relevant organizations to acquire and retain customers

Dick’s Sporting Goods (ranked #3 on ZipSprout’s list) is everywhere when it comes to local kids sports. Little leagues, hockey fields, you name it.

In the past 10 years, brick and mortars have had to compete with the rise of Amazon, and Dick’s could’ve fallen victim to it. After all, why go to a mall or to a Dick’s physical location if you can just buy a baseball bat online?

Dick’s has used local marketing to stay on the tops of their customers’ minds, and to make sure they’re out in front of their target customer while their target customer is engaging in fun, sports-related activities.

In a world where Dick’s competitors like Sports Authority had to shut down entirely, Megan suspects that part of Dick’s success is related to how invested they are in local marketing and connecting with local communities.

How to find local partners

So you’ve seen local goodwill in action and now you’d like to try it for yourself. How do you actually find these local entities to work with?

Luckily, you’ll often find that local areas are rich in sponsorship opportunities. They take the form of different events, non-profits, or even little league teams, and thankfully, most of them have a website.

Here’s Garrett and Megan’s search tips for finding local partners online:

  1. Start with your favorite search engine
  2. Include a sponsorship indicator (like “our sponsors”) and a location modifier (like the city name)
    • Sponsorship indicator search ideas:
      • “our sponsors”
      • inurl:sponsors or intitle:sponsors
      • inurl:donors or intitle:donors
      • inurl:fest or intitle:fest
      • inurl:association or intitle:association
  3. (Optional) Use a topic modifier – “5K” or “parade”
  4. (Optional) Use a competitor modifier – “competitor name” or “business category” (like “roofing”)
  5. (Optional) Use a “top sponsor” modifier (Wells Fargo, Dick’s Sporting Goods) for vetted sponsorship opportunities.
    • If you’re an enterprise brand, this search can be particularly useful, because you can see all of the places top local marketing teams put their sponsorship dollars and join them. Just reference ZipSprout’s list of top 60 corporate sponsors in the US to see which brands to include.

Now that we’ve looked at how we can find local organizations you can partner with, let’s look at some examples of these searches in action.

Prospecting search #1: Local organizations in Chicago

With this first search, we kept it pretty broad and only included a location modifier by searching “our sponsors” + chicago.

As a result, we get some really varied and interesting options. Garrett recommends you start with this type of search (that is, sponsorship indicator and location modifier only) when looking for local partners. By keeping your search broad, we can get a feel for what kinds of opportunities are available, and how we might further modify our search to find relevant events or organizations.

Another quick tip from Garrett: Don’t be afraid to go to page 2 and beyond when it comes to the results of this first search! You want to get a wide idea of what’s available, and then from there, use that information to narrow down your list.

Prospecting search #2: Old people in Los Angeles

Now we’re going to get a little more specific. This time, we’ll use both a location modifier, and a subject modifier, and search “our sponsors” aging los angeles.

Already we’re seeing very different opportunities for local sponsorship in the “aging” category. So if your target audience is generally older, this search may be a good fit. Not to say that you should immediately sponsor an organization upon seeing them mention the word “senior” in their page title, but it’s a good indicator to dig deeper.

Now let’s look at another example, and this time, let’s get specific in a different way.

Prospecting search #3: Boston picnics

For this example, we want to sponsor a picnic in Boston (who wouldn’t?) because our target audience is young parents, so we’re going to use both a location modifier, and an event type modifier, and search “our sponsors” picnic Boston.

Here’s what we get:

First thing we notice is that there are sponsor-able picnics in Boston. Excellent! If we wanted to get even more specific, we could specify BBQ and see what pops up since there are a variety of picnics displayed here, and a BBQ is kinda a subset of picnics.

Search tip: Look for the fun

When you start modifying your prospecting searches, think of what your customers (or their kids) like to do, and use those activities or categories in your searches. For example, if I had a skincare company, I might sponsor a local kids’ dance team to get in front of dance moms.

And don’t forget to also think about what you like to do as well! Darren Shaw from Whitespark gave the local marketing example of a chiropractor who would sponsor races, in addition to running in them. From these runs, the chiropractor netted several new clients, while also supporting local organizations, and participating in a hobby he loves. A win, win, win.

So now that we know how to find potential local partners, let’s talk about how to qualify them to make sure we end up with the right ones.

How to qualify your local partners

For starters, on the most basic level, you can visit potential partners’ sites to see if they look legit. You can also check out any sponsorship information they have online to make sure they’re in your price range. You’ll also want to make sure they’re not a false positive, like a goat rodeo event showing up when you specialize in llama products.

But beyond these basics, how else should you qualify? Well, Megan and Garrett gave us three important questions to ask in order to determine whether a local partner is right for you.

Question #1: Who’s your target market?

Identify who exactly you’re trying to reach. That’s our absolute first step, and what we’ll base everything on. For example, let’s say we want to reach families with young children. That would rule out events like a charity wine and cheese night, but draw us toward events like a craft day at the park.

Question #2: What do they do on the weekends?

You want to meet your customers when they’re having fun. In the young family’s case, another type of event that would make sense is a picnic. There are tons of food, drinks, and ample space for the little ones to raise hell.

So by running a booth at the picnic, giving away a piece of swag, or sponsoring it, you would get in front of that audience you want to connect with.

Question #3: Do you want leads or branding?

Whether you’re aiming for leads or branding is an important distinction to make when qualifying your local partners. That’s because depending on what you want, you don’t necessarily need to sponsor directly relevant events.

Let our ZipSprout experts explain. Megan gave the example of a pet food company. If the pet food company were looking for leads, it would make sense to focus on local pet-related events, maybe offering some coupons, discounts, or affiliate deals at a rescue’s adoption events.

However, if they’re looking for more general local branding, they could  sponsor a picnic or 5K, build some local links, and further build their relationships in local communities.

Basically, keep your goal in mind when you’re sifting through potential partners, and that will help guide you to the right ones.

How to build local relationships

You’ve prospected, you’ve qualified, and now it’s time to reach out to these different local organizations to start building those relationships. But where do you start?

As with any link building campaign, you’ll want to do your research, and send an email. Here’s ZipSprout’s outreach process that Megan and Garrett so kindly shared with us:

  1. Start with a brief intro email
  2. Send 1 follow up email to non-responders, a week or two later
  3. If an organization seems especially interesting but hasn’t replied, pick up the phone and call them!
  4. Once you do talk to them, ask for a sponsorship PDF, but don’t be afraid to see if an organization will customize

A couple of notes about this process:

1. Don’t go crazy with the emails

ZipSprout limits their outreach to two emails: 1 intro, and 1 follow-up. That way, they don’t burn anyone out or come across as annoying. Everyone is busy and no one likes being pestered.

2. Heavy personalization is not needed

Outreach to these local organizations isn’t high-touch outreach, unlike the outreach you might be doing to journalists or bloggers where your email needs to be very well-researched and personalized.

Local sponsorships, on the other hand, don’t need to be as intensely personalized.

Yes, you need to show them that you know their name and can communicate what you want, but what you’re really doing is information-gathering. You’re trying to find out if they’re interested, what the cost and benefits would be, and so on. Often you’ll be asking them for a pdf or information on their sponsorship packages.

3. Don’t fear the phone

There will likely be phone calls involved in your outreach process when you’re building local good will.

That is, if you have a phone number in your email signature, expect to get a call on it.

Sound scary? Well, Megan doesn’t recommend removing your phone number. Being able to talk to someone and hear their voice is a big part of building these local relationships, even though it doesn’t often play a major role in other types of outreach.

There could be a lot of reasons for why phone is so important in local, but Megan suspects it has a lot to do with local organizations being uncomfortable with money being exchanged without a voice to match with the name.

After all, these local organizations want to do their due diligence as well. They want to make sure you’re a legitimate representative from the organization you claim to be, not a bot or some strange scammer who gets their kicks from pretending to want to sponsor local organizations.

Plus, these local partners care so much about their community, so it makes sense that they would want to get to know and meet someone who’s asking to be a part of it.

If you’ve made it up in your mind that you don’t have time for phone calls, or are gravely phone shy, try to push through and change your mind. These phone calls aren’t long, and if you decide to completely opt-out, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.

4. Ask for custom options if you want them

If a local partner has sponsorship packages, but you don’t see a perfect match, it could be as simple as an email or call saying “I see you have this package for $500. Is there a way we can modify it a bit?”

Sometimes they’ll say yes, and sometimes they’ll say no, but it doesn’t hurt to try. After all, if you want to give money to an organization, they’ll likely want to take it from you.

How to run a local email outreach campaign

Ah, good ol’ email. I know we were just expounding upon the virtues of phone calls, but nothing beats email when it comes to outreach speed. It’s way faster to reach many potential partners via email than dialing their numbers one by one.

It’s also way easier to avoid confusion on pricing later on when you opt for email, since you get everything in writing. On the phone, it’s easy fall into a trap where you agree on a certain amount for the sponsorship and make note of that, but later, once you’re checking back with the organization, no one can verify your claim because they never wrote it down. With email, you never have to spend mental energy on remembering what you agreed upon, and are free to focus on everything else.

What should our outreach email look like?

Here’s an example outreach email the ZipSprout team penned for one of their clients:

As you can see, the email keeps it pretty simple. They basically just ask what sponsorship options the organization has available, and if they have a list of costs and benefits that they can share over email or over a phone call. And that’s about it!

Tips for your local email outreach

1. Be brief

When ZipSprout first started pitching for their clients, their emails were much longer. (Think two paragraphs or so.)

However, over the years they’ve spent finding and running local campaigns for their customers, they realized that a short, casual approach increased their response rate.

So keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. Again, you’re just gathering information, not trying to persuade them of anything.

2. Ensure you’re emailing the right person –

Non-profits and local organizations can have very different structures from one another. There can be 10 or 15 people on the board, and roles like volunteer coordinator, chief marketing officer, head of fundraising, and more, who all seem like a potential point of contact.

So take the time to make sure you’re reaching out to the team member responsible for local sponsorships. Otherwise, you risk your email getting lost, or making a bad first impression.

3. Do a tiny bit of personalization

Once you’ve found the right person, be sure to take the time for basic personalization.

Mention their name and their organization’s name in your pitch so they know you wrote that email specifically for them, not just any local organization.


4. Keep track of your outreach! 

Make sure you have a system of keeping track of who you’ve reached out to, who has replied, and who you’re currently worked with. This will make it much easier in the future to tell where each campaign is in the sponsorship process, and allow you to report of your successes later.

How to reach out to local partners over the phone

Although it may not be your usual outreach method, phone outreach is perceived as more personal and as showing more care from a local organization’s perspective.

If a local non-profit hasn’t responded to your email, but is an incredibly good fit for your local campaign, don’t be afraid to give them a call. From Megan’s experience, many more people in the local space are quick to pick up the phone, and slower to reply to email (if at all).

In fact, looking over a recent sponsorship list ZipSprout compiled for a client, 60% of the sponsorships involved phone calls in some way, either as an initial phone call, or a phone call meant to hash out details.

So take all of the points we covered in the email outreach section above, and apply them to your phone calls:

  • Don’t take up too much of their time
  • Know who you’re calling
  • Let them know you’ve done your research
  • Keep track of who you’ve called

Signs a sponsorship may not work out

Sadly, not all local organizations are a good fit for your local campaigns.

If you want to know when to walk away from a poorly-matched sponsorship opportunity early on, here are a couple of signs that a sponsorship may not work out:

1. Poor responsiveness

If someone’s not responding to your initial outreach, the prognosis doesn’t look good.

From ZipSprout’s experience, if an organization doesn’t respond to your first email, they’re likely not interested. The ZipSprout team has run experiments in the past where they offered checks to non-responding local prospects to sweeten the deal, but more often than not, the prospects still didn’t respond, even with money on the line.

So it’s pretty safe to say that if they’re not responsive from the get-go, no need to put a lot of effort into pursuing them.

2. Organizations who have specific sponsor standards

Some local organizations are very choosey. They may only want to work with hyperlocal businesses, or businesses in a certain industry.

This is especially true of local business organizations. They have their own set of standards, and if you don’t fit them, it’s not going to work out.

If you’re an agency, and your client does happen to meet those standards, be sure to mention to those local organizations that you’re working on behalf of a local company. That way they’ll see the connection.

Expert tips for faster local outreach

If you’re wanting to launch a local campaign quickly, here are some tips that will help you find and qualify local leads who are ready to spring into action:

1. Seek out organizations with PDFs or sponsorship information already online

You can do that in your prospecting search by adding inurl:pdf or just pdf to your query. This information will make it much easier to determine whether their cost and benefits are right for your needs and budget.

2. Prospect for seasonal events

According to the 4,000+ events listed in ZipSprout’s database in 2016, 22% of the events take place during between June 1 and September 1, and 3.9% of events take place between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

So if you’re needing a quick start to a local campaign and you’re a few months ahead of the summer or the holidays, definitely search for seasonal events. For example, you can search for “fall fests” in July, or “holiday events” in September or October.

When ZipSprout has taken this approach, they achieved great response rates, because they had timed their outreach to coincide with when these local organizations would be starting to fundraise for their events. Again, just be sure to target these local events two to four months ahead of when they’ll actually happen.

Expert tips for quality local outreach

Of course, fast outreach and quality outreach don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

But if you have more time and want to make sure you’re giving your local campaign the best possible chances at success, here are four expert tips to help you do that:

1. Take the time to hop on the phone

Again, local people love the phone. Don’t be afraid to express your own warmth and personality when chatting with them. You want them to know you care.

2. Send a follow-up email to organizations that don’t respond the first time around

ZipSprout’s total response rate goes up by 11% when they do follow-ups.

After that first follow-up email, however, the returns diminish. So they recommend sticking to one follow-up. Any more after that, and you may start damaging your relationships with these local organizations.

3. Double-confirm sponsorship costs and benefits via email

Have a record of what you and your partner decide on in terms of price and benefits, and run it back to the local organization to make sure they know what they’ve agreed to.

4. (For agencies) Ask ahead of time if the local organization is okay with the potential sponsor

This is important for agencies! You’ll build strong relationships with the organizations since you’re the one communicating with them, and some of them may be uncomfortable with another company suddenly sponsoring their event when they’ve been used to talking to you and your agency. So early on, be sure to clarify who the sponsor would be, and what your role is.

Fulfilling your local campaign

You found local sponsorships in your community, you hashed out the details with your local partner, and you both agreed to them. All you need to do is pay the money, and you’re all set.

Except it’s not quite that simple. Here are three tips when you’re at the fulfillment stage of your local campaign:

1. Be prepared to write checks

Many local organizations prefer checks to PayPal or credit card. So if acquiring a check is something hard to accomplish in your company, make sure you’re working with local organizations who take digital payment, or leave yourself a lot of time to acquire the check.

2. Assign a team member to check that benefits went live

Local organizations can get busy too! Make sure you assign a team member to check in on the campaign once it’s live to make sure the benefits happened. Whether it’s a social post, guest blog, or shoutout in the email newsletter, you just want to make sure it made it to the public eye.

If the benefits don’t go live at the agreed upon amount of time, have that same person send the partner a quick, friendly reminder email.

3.  Plan 1-2 hours per sponsorship for fulfillment

Generally there’s more to fulfilling a local sponsorship than just handing the money over, so give yourself the time to fulfill them.

These additional details may include filling out the proper forms, ensuring payment was submitted and received, and hopping on the phone again, so don’t think this is a 30-second process.

Measuring your ROI

There are a number of ways you can measure the return on doing local goodwill. Here are the four major ways:

1. Local SERP changes

Local SERP changes are a major way to track the ROI on your local campaigns, especially if you embarked on these local campaigns with link building in mind.

Here’s an example of some local SERP changes from one of ZipSprout’s clients:

One of the things the ZipSprout team noticed is that right around the time the local links go live, things will get more volatile SERP-wise. Rankings may even go negative for a moment.

However, you’ll see the sustained improvement in rankings over weeks and months, so keep an eye on it to see by how much.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another good tool to give you an idea of how successful your local campaigns were, especially if you hoped to increase brand visibility.

You can ask questions like, “Are people coming to my local pages more often?” or “How’s my organic traffic trending for these local pages?” to determine whether you got the return you need.

3. Google Trends (Hat tip to Mike Blumenthal for this one)

For larger companies, Google Trends is another tool you can use to gauge ROI. You’ll be able to see state and city-wise who’s searching for you. Using Edward Jones as an example, we can see they’re particularly searched for in Missouri.

So if you ran a campaign in Chicago, you could look in Google Trends to see how searches from Illinois are trending. Again though, you’ll probably need to be a larger company to leverage this tool.

4. Offer coupons and track conversions

In addition to the sponsorship you provide, you can throw a coupon code in with it. From there, you can track the uses of your coupon and know without a shadow of a doubt how much ROI that local campaign generated.

Most local organizations will let you include a coupon code in their social media shout out or newsletter shout out. All you need to do is ask, then get their agreement in an email.

What to do once you’ve started building local goodwill

Once you’ve started doing some local goodwill and running your local campaigns, you need to spread the word!

Here are your two major next steps:

1. Build local sponsorship landing pages

Whole Foods (ranked #4 on ZipSprout’s list) is a good example of how to do this correctly. They don’t just do the good in the community; they build it into their brand story, then share it with the community via local landing pages.

Because of those pages, other local organizations know they can come to Whole Foods for sponsorship, and the Whole Foods brand gets spread further. You can totally steal this tactic and do the same.

Also nice is that you don’t have to be a huge company to do this well. Here’s another example of a local coffee chain in Durham:

This is Joe Van Gogh’s page where they talk about where they donate. So you don’t need to be a giant Amazon-Whole Foods monster of a company to do good in local communities, talk about it, and benefit from it.

2. Loop in your social and PR teams

Work with your social and PR teams and keep them abreast of your local marketing efforts. Make sure they know when your local partners will be posting your brand’s social media shoutout, and ask your team to help boost the signal with retweets or quotes.

Additionally, let your communications team know when you’re doing some kind of local goodwill so they can throw it in your brand’s social feed if they feel it’s appropriate.

Again, Tito’s Vodka does a good job of integrating the passion they have for doing good in local communities into their brand’s story, as seen by the tweet below.

Local campaign brainstorming examples

One of the harder aspects of finding local partners is simply defining who are the kinds of partners you want to work with.

With that in mind, let’s look at three examples of how you might brainstorm local partner ideas for three very different business sizes and verticals. Hopefully they’ll spark some ideas on how to come up with your own local partner ideas.

Example 1: A local pest control company

Say you’re a national pest control company and you want to reach people where they live, so you’ve turned your sights onto local marketing.

Garrett recommends we first look at the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. There’s a bug festival in Raleigh, so that’s definitely a place to look. Really, any event related to bugs could be a good fit, since you can speak from a place of expertise as a national pest control company.

Another take on bugs you can look into: edible bugs. You could try sponsoring a food festival that features bugs. Sure it’s less direct, but it could work.

Maybe you can say, “We want to help families feel safe from insects.” With that mission, you can sponsor some picnics, kids festivals, and the like. You could show up with a branded tent with a fun activity, maybe even show off some big cockroaches.

Bugs are all pretty interesting little critters, so there’s a lot of education you could be doing, like sponsoring an event that will allow you to teach attendees about the anatomy of common local insects, and natural ways to repel them.

Example 2: A regional chili franchise

Now let’s say regional franchise, Skyline Chili, is wanting to go local and do some goodwill.

Who are some partners they should look into? Well, Garrett at first recommended a chili cook-off, but then tampered his enthusiasm for it. After all, potential clients could very well taste chilis they prefer over Skyline’s, so that wouldn’t be much of a local win.

Let’s back up and start first with their target audience. Who is their most likely customer? If it’s families, they could do family-oriented events. Skyline could also check out some movie festivals, and maybe pitch a Skyline chili cheese fry booth.

And speaking of chili cheese fries, occasionally they’re associated with baseball, so perhaps sponsoring a little league team or a charity baseball game could be a good fit. Again, all of this depends on your brand objectives, but you kinda get an idea of how far you can go.

Example 3: Local bank or credit union

Lastly, let’s get ourselves in the mindset of a local bank or credit union and see what local partner ideas we can come up with.

First, look locally to see who the other banks, or financial organizations like a local Edward Jones equivalent, are sponsoring, and see if they might be a good fit for you as well.

Anytime you see a business that has been sponsored by a peer of yours, it’s a vote of confidence. Those peers know they’re going to get a benefit, and they know this is a good fit. So you can streamline your research process by following their trail.

You could also look at homeowners associations, or get even more community-oriented and look at neighborhood associations. Some neighborhoods even have festivals or events, events that you likely wouldn’t know about unless you lived there. So you can’t get more local than having a little booth at an event like that.

Otherwise, this is another case where a kids’ sports teams could be a good fit. Again, think of your best customers, then think of where they might go or what they might do for fun.

Questions and answers from the webinar

We had a lot of great questions during our webinar. Check them out, plus Megan and Garrett’s expert answers, below.

1. Do you have advice for pitching these ideas for grassroots marketing, as an agency suggesting it to our business clients? 

The main thing you’re selling is visibility to a target audience.

Your work will be to understand your client’s customers, and understand what they love to do.

Your client may already be doing some sponsorship work, or have causes they care about, so you’ll be helping them continue that while also realizing a benefit. Basically, you can pitch it as “Here’s how you’ll make more money by doing this,” and your homework will be figuring out where their customers are.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to pitch it as a test. You can tell them “Here’s something we can test. We have a coupon attached to it, and we’ll be able to easily measure ROI.” Who would say no to that?

Local marketing sponsorships are basically just another marketing channel. It’s a tactic that can be process-ized, and repeated easily.

2. We’re all about ROI here. How do you measure the effects of a local campaign, for example, sponsoring a local event? 

Your first option would be those coupon codes we talked about earlier, but the reality is that anytime you’re doing a campaign for branding, it’s hard to track ROI.

For our other marketing campaigns, we have ads and last touch attribution, so in a similar vein, for local campaigns, you can track who visited your booth, then look at who of those people later became customers.

You also have the option of exploring affiliate marketing via local sponsorships (like an Amazon Smile program), so if your company needs to see a kickback when doing your local goodwill, you could opt for a program in that same vein.

Also, be sure to include a call to action in any physical item or piece of swag you hand out. Maybe have different email addresses, codes, or phone numbers printed on your swag, so you know which event your sign-ups came from.

3. What other avenues, sponsorships aside, have you found to be effective for local outreach? (Looking for cost-free ideas.)

Try guest posts if you’re looking for backlinks. It can be a good starting point, but it means a lot of research will need to go into finding local blogs, who they reach, whether they’re willing to accept content, and whether it’d be worth the effort.

You can also volunteer at events for organizations as your brand, or offer your services if you’re looking for visibility. In-kind donations of your products or services are an option for local organizations as well.

4. What are some campaign ideas to get business for my digital marketing agency locally, as opposed to doing local marketing for my clients? 

Local sponsorships are great if you’re looking for local clients. It’s a good way to build those relationships in the community. One example would be sponsoring a local 10K run.

5. After how much time after sponsoring will we see the local search improvements? How long does it take for our efforts to show up?

It varies based on a lot of factors, some of them being your location, how big your city is, your vertical, and so on. Generally speaking, you’ll see your boost in one or two months.

Another parameter is how many sponsorships/links you need to build. You’ll need a certain number of links to rank for your specific city (a number only Google knows), and that number will factor into the length of time as well.

6. Is there some kind of local sponsorship database I can search for events in?

Almost! The team at ZipSprout is currently creating a tool to find local sponsorship opportunities.

Although it’s not quite ready yet, you can sign up for the beta. Megan and Garrett mentioned that beta for their local sponsorship search tool should be coming in the next month or so, with the full release sometime in 2018.


And that’s a wrap! Again, if you’d like to sign up to watch this content in webinar form, you can do that here.

If you’d like to learn more about local marketing, be sure to check out Megan’s Marketing Land column on local marketing, or hear her interviews with members of the local ecosystem in her weekly podcast, The Zip.

Otherwise, you can reach out to Garrett, Megan, and ZipSprout on Twitter.

Leave a Reply