The Chicago-based startup helps local groups and events find big-name sponsorships through its online platform
Instead of begging the local diner or neighborhood car
dealership to sponsor your local kickball team, how would you like to have the
support of a national brand like Office Max, Hertz or Verizon?
The Chicago-based startup Apparel Media Group has created a
digital portal that connects local groups and events looking for sponsorships
with large national brands looking for micro-level exposure and brand
Sponsorships are the lifeblood of local communal activities such as amateur
sports teams, little leagues, community events and festivals, but the space lacks support from major corporations. The exposure for large
brands is limited and for the sponsorship seekers, it’s harder to get the
attention of big brands unless you have personal contacts within the company.
AMG aims to provide solutions on both those fronts.
How It Works
Much like Airbnb, AMG facilitates an exchange between two
groups that will mutually gain from the transaction. Local sports teams or
events looking to fund their activities can search for a brand or company to
sponsor them at no cost on AMG’s consumer facing portal called Pear. This could
mean anything from getting funding for team uniforms or food and refreshments
for an event. Once a sponsor is found, the event organizers are asked to
complete a series of tasks that will provide additional value to the brand,
such as following them on social media or getting their friends to sign up for
small online promotions. The organizers get points for each task completed and
at the end of a 10-day period, they can redeem those points for an additional
reward from the sponsor.
Co-founder and CEO Jared Golden says the service acts almost
like a “Kickstarter for sponsorships,” and he hopes it will bridge the gap
between digital advertising and local sponsorships. Golden says large companies
have as much to gain from local sponsorships as they do from national campaigns
since it’s an authentic, cost efficient way to create brand advocates. “We’re
providing large brands the opportunity for deep, authentic engagement among
local communities,” says Golden. “They can introduce their brand through an
existing circle of trust amongst people, who can then evangelize it to their
The challenge for AMG has been to market itself to both
sides of the equation, getting local sponsorship seekers to use its site as
well as attract marketers by showing them the benefits of the service. The Pear
platform is geared towards sponsorship seekers, making it easy for them to
search for potential sponsors as well as list their profile to attract funding. For marketers who make sponsorship
decisions, there is the AMG site, which has a more corporate feel and is more
explicit about the advantages of sponsorships at the micro-level through the
platform. Golden says micro-sponsorships at the local level
can have as much of an impact as a national campaign when they all start to add up.
Probably the most marketable piece of the puzzle is AMG’s
new analytics dashboard that will allow brands to track the return on
investment for their sponsorships and get an actual dollar value for the level
of engagement they achieve. “Traditional sponsorships have always been hard
to track and it’s been very difficult to measure brand metrics,” says Golden. “In
this way we can make it viable, digestible and exciting for digital marketers.”
By having all the transactions and activity related to the
brand happen online, AMG can provide targeted demographics,
social media monitoring and engagement metrics for the marketer. The site also
allows the brand to upload additional content it wants to push such as video, images
and social media accounts.
AMG plans to announce a large number of big brand
partnerships in the fall, for the company’s nationwide launch. To that end, it
is investing in an in-house marketing team that will exclusively focus on
“evangelizing the platform’s solutions,” to brands and agencies. Golden says
the team will have a more consultancy-based mentality, rather than just sales. The startup is also in the process of vetting several PR firms
to aid with its nationwide launch.