I used to think “getting your name out there” meant that you should put more messages in bottles into the stream behind your house. Well, it turns out it, it means something totally different. Also learned: dumping hundreds of plastic bottles into a stream is considered polluting, and it’s really easy for someone to fine you for it if said bottles contain pieces of paper with your name and address on them. Who knew?
Anyway, in terms of business, “getting your name out there” means doing public things so that people know about you and want to give you their money. It’s kind of like putting a metaphorical pie on the metaphorical windowsill so that the metaphorical smell gets your metaphorical neighbors talking about how they want to invest capital to support your business.
So, what kinds of public stuff should you do to get people talking about your business? You should sponsor events, that's what! But hold on! Before you go put your money behind every 5k, convention, and concert you can find, be aware: just as there are pies you don’t want to eat – like a tar and pumpkin pie, or a pie that’s just a clever arrangement of thumbtacks – there are also events you don’t want your business to sponsor. So how can you tell the good ones from the bad ones. Simply study photos of the event from previous years that it's been held, and look for one or more of the following things that we here at the Sean Adams University of Business Management Development Leadership have deemed, “red flags.”
People wearing turtlenecks: Turtlenecks can be used to cover up neck tattoos, neck tattoos denote gangs, and gangs are not a good client base (unless you’re selling turtlenecks).
Fires (unattended): Two things here: 1) you don’t want to have to put out the PR fire of being associated with an event that is on fire, and 2) you don’t want to have to put out the actual fire by smothering it with the banner denoting your sponsorship.
Lightning: If you start to notice that there’s a lot of pictures of lightning striking one or more people in attendance, that event is probably cursed and you should leave it unsponsored.
Poison Ivy: Try and name one thing that makes you both happy and itchy. Maybe a winning lotto ticket that you’re allergic to, but aside from that? Nothing! That’s why you shouldn’t sponsor any events with that feature a preponderance of poison ivy: you don't want people to associate your business with itchiness.
People Without Eyes or Ears or Mouths: Look, you want people to see your company’s name, hear your company’s name, and then say your company’s name to other people. There’s no way to achieve this with people that don’t have eyes, ears, or mouths (unless you and they are fluent in olfactory Morse code).
Actual Red Flags: Someone's trying to send you a message! Beware!
That about covers which events not to sponsor. Now, which ones SHOULD you sponsor? That's a bit trickier. Tell me about your business in the comments, and I’ll give you some ideas.