Value Through Partnerships And Sponsorships [Opinion]

christina herrickIn last month’s column, I wrote about getting more return for the agritainment you offer on your farm by increasing your admission prices. Mark Saunders, of Saunders Farm in Ottawa, Canada, says there are other ways to kick that value up a notch.


“It’s about getting more value for the things you do,” he says. “Many farms offer a valuable service. Admission is just one way to get that value. Sponsorships and partnerships are another way.”

Partners And Sponsors
Saunders knows a thing or two about building value on his family’s farm. He also understands the unique opportunity a farm offers, which can be very attractive to other businesses who may want to align themselves with yours as a sponsor or partner.

A sponsorship is a cash or in-kind fee paid for access to the commercial potential of the farm. An example would be for a company to be the farm’s hayride sponsor.

Partnerships are relationship-driven, where each entity shares in promotion. These can include:

  •  A relationship with a newspaper, TV or radio station to increase your farm’s profile.
  • Partnering with a major retailer or drug store to add distribution points for your farm’s information/tickets and to add credibility.
  • Arranging a ticket swap with a community organization or festival.
  • Working with companies you already use, such as sound and lighting, or beverage or food distributors, to reduce costs.

Who Makes A Good Partner?
Think about the “brand” of your farm. Do potential partners align themselves with what your farm is about and your values?

You offer something unusual and in demand, something consumers can’t get everywhere: family time. You have a captive audience at your farm, with shared values of your potential sponsors and partners. Reach out to marketing managers and owners and talk about how your story and farm fits into what they do.

A good way to establish a relationship with a potential sponsor is to have them come to your farm for a private VIP tour to see what you do and how you do it.

Give As Good As You Get
These deals aren’t a one-way street. Relationships you build should generate value for your sponsors and partners, as well as for your own business. Saunders uses a thorough valuation chart for sponsorships, detailing the expected total value, the value to the sponsor, and the value to the farm. He says as a pricing structure, sponsorships should provide your farm a two-to-one ratio of returns.

Cash, services and products, and marketing are good places to start for sponsorships.

Be clear with your sponsors about what they’ll get in return. Think about ways to make their experience special with extras like coupons for food, extra tickets, or host an exclusive family event for the sponsor or partner.

Whatever type of sponsorships or partnerships you do offer, deliver on your promises. If this means having someone on your staff devoted to follow-through, so be it.

Above all, exceed the sponsors’ expectations so they will become returning sponsors.