Nothing great was ever accomplished without passion. It’s something to remember in life and in business. So how do we tap into that passion while connecting with our customers? By being where they spend their most precious asset: their spare time.

And that time is often spent on sports. Participating, watching, discussing – for many, all of the above. Besides politics and maybe religion, there are very few pursuits that people get as passionate about as sports. It blurs the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and age. People who don’t even know each other will hug after a big win.

Sport bonds.

Fact: The world’s leading corporations use sports sponsorship to drive their brand value and market leadership. Why? Because it works.

And you don’t need the deep pockets of a global corporation to get involved. Local community-based sports organizations offer great opportunities at reasonable rates. But remember, the true value of linking your business with a sports team doesn’t end with writing a check for title sponsorship or a sign. It lies in the activation of the partnership opportunity.

So be creative. Demonstrate how you might generate a successful partnership between your business, the sports team, and the community at large. How your support goes beyond the sign on the rink board or outfield wall. Create your own branded elements within the property you’re sponsoring. Conduct an in-game contest. Sponsor year-end awards.

Be strategic with your investment by selecting a specific element of your brand to reinforce. Perhaps reach your female audience by staging a “Baseball for Moms” session. Or market your new home delivery service by “delivering” the ball to home plate at the beginning of each game. Or even promote your commitment to a more sustainable environment by giving away reusable grocery bags (with a tastefully placed logo, of course).

So if you’re looking to connect to your market on a deeper level, then perhaps a local sports sponsorship is just the ticket for you.