Advertisements and sponsorships are two tools used in a marketing strategy, with advertising aimed at educating and motivating consumers and sponsorships aimed at creating awareness and affinity. Adding both to your marketing mix can help you achieve a variety of marketing benefits that can help enhance your brand and increase your sales.


Advertising is generally considered to be a paid message you control. Common methods include messages placed in magazines and newspapers, and on TV, radio, websites and billboards. Unlike public relations efforts, you decide, create and place the exact message you want. Advertising expenses include the cost of creating your ads and placing them in different media outlets.


When you sponsor an event, team, league or organization, you pay for the right to associate yourself with that entity. You do not completely control your message but work with your partner to determine where your name will appear, what exposure you’ll have on site and what pre- and post-event publicity you’ll get. Sponsorship costs include the fee you pay for the sponsorship, any products or services you give away, onsite signage or ads you produce and your staff time to manage your involvement with the event.


Advertising is more effective for educating consumers about your product, its features and benefits, because you create and control the delivery of a specific message. A sponsorship gets you name and possibly product exposure, but you do not have the opportunity to deliver a specific message.


If you want to improve brand loyalty, creating a relationship with a person, event or group close to the hearts of your target audience, sponsorships are effective. When you sponsor a charity, youth sports league or fundraiser, you tell consumers you have the same values they have and that if they support you, they also support their team or organization. Advertising lets you say you do this, but a sponsorship lets you prove you do this.


Where you place an ad, the graphic elements you use and the message you send help you maintain the image, or brand, you want to create. Sponsorships help improve your branding efforts by creating affinity with a particular event, person or group. Sponsoring a rock concert makes you seem hip. Sponsoring a breast cancer event makes you seem sensitive to women’s issues. Sponsoring athletic events makes consumers associate your product or service with health, fitness and competition. Sponsoring children’s events tells parents you care about their kids.