Attracting customers to your business – and then bringing them back through your doors, again and again – is the secret sauce of any successful restaurant. There’s no single way to perfect that recipe, but one ingredient that has consistently worked across segments and locations is youth sports sponsorships.
For restaurants, it’s a natural fit: Youth sports are an integral part of local communities, creating a positive impact on the development of children. By associating your brand with these local organizations, you’re directly contributing to that development – an association that will be extremely beneficial to your brand and help bolster your reputation in the community and beyond.
A sponsorship of a youth sports organization provides a built-in customer base, but it’s much more than that. It’s a way to reach a diverse group of people: kids of all ages, parents, coaches, referees and others with a stake in that team. By investing in a youth sports sponsorship, you’re really investing in your restaurant’s future.
Once you’ve decided a local youth sports sponsorship might be right for you, consider these helpful tips before making your move:
- Sponsoring a sports organization doesn’t have to be expensive. Small amounts can go a long way.
- Sponsorships don’t always involve money. For example, a restaurant may provide food for games and tournaments in exchange for visibility on the organization’s website.
- Supporting more than one team across different sports could be hugely beneficial. Different teams and sports means different crowds, which allows you to reach more potential customers.
- Focus on building a long-term relationship with your sponsored organization. Short-term partnerships have a relatively limited impact.
- Mix it up. There are many different ways to sponsor and support local teams. Be open to ideas that satisfy both sides.
Now … where to start? Finding the right fit is an important first step in any sponsorship. A restaurant should think hard about who it’s trying to reach. Are its target customers located in certain areas or associated with certain sports? Any and all of the major North American sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer) provide excellent sponsorship opportunities. Popular activities with strong participation increase visibility and, of course, your potential customer base.
Timing may matter. If you own an ice cream shop, for instance, you might not get as much benefit out of a hockey club sponsorship in December as you would with a Little League baseball team in July.
The rhythms at sports’ higher levels can have an influence as well. With the 2026 World Cup being played in different cities around North America, a local soccer sponsorship could be a strong investment as the sport begins to energize fans around the event.
But don’t make the mistake of waiting for what feels like the perfect moment. In the aftermath of a global pandemic brought youth sports – games, tournaments, camps – to a standstill, the floodgates are about to open. With players, parents and coaches eager to play ball again, sports will be more popular than ever and visibility for brands associated with youth sports will be at an all-time high. You won’t want to let mutually beneficial sponsorship opportunities pass you by.
In the end, the act of sponsoring a youth sports organization is more important than the sport, the league or the season itself. Supporting an activity that contributes to child development and community building should be the key drivers behind a sponsorship, and the positive association with your brand and the potential customers you reach will be a fantastic fringe benefit. Take the time now to assess different sports organizations in your community, then get in contact to see if your interests align and to start building a mutual trust.