A Blog To Help The Marina Owner Understand Online Marketing

Get Visible: Sponsor Your Local Holiday Event

Dec 15, 2023 | Marina Management

marina event

Look up any major sports stadium and you’ll see arena names are almost ubiquitous with corporatized, if not comedic, imagery. The Arena (Los Angeles). Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago). Pampers Swaddlers Disposables Stadium. 

Alright, so the last one is a bit hyperbolic. But the reason major companies put their name on event spaces is simple: the branding works. Even the marine industry has gotten in on the sponsorship game, as Suzuki Marine became the Official Outboard Motor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On the micro level, the holiday season is a great opportunity for a small- to mid-sized marina to sponsor a local parade or holiday-themed event. Today, we explore real-world marina sponsorship examples, and how your marina benefits from stamping your name on the local get-together.

The “Big Picture” Benefits of Name Sponsorship

The marina manager benefits from an event sponsorship on three fronts:  

  • They draw attention and a sense of clout to their business with the aggressive nature of the promotion. 
  • The marina has a chance to contribute to a positive community-oriented event that brings people together. 
  • The marina manager has a visible reason to interact with their customer base and strengthen personal relationships with community members as the event takes place. 

Here’s an example: 

We recently directed our weekly “Boater’s Spotlight” corner to appreciate the December lighted boat parades that have been illuminating our waterways from coast to coast. One of the more prominent lighted boat parades is the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, which takes place over two weekends, December 10th and December 17th.

San Diego Parade of Lights

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights shares some common themes with other boat parades: Christmas decoration, “Best of” awards, and vibrant shorelines lined with crowds and the wispy curl of hot cocoa steam. Where it differs from other small-town or city boat parades is in its scale. The 2023 San Diego Bay Parade of Lights had 46 unique sponsors. 46! Among these marine industry sponsors are Sea Tow San Diego, Sun Harbor Marina, and Marine Group Boat Works, among a myriad of others. 

The relationship is symbiotic–the sponsors can financially support an enormous event and in return, draw immense attention to their businesses. According to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the population of San Diego is just over 1.4 million. The number of people who attend the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is projected at 100,000, or over 7% of the entire Bay Area population. 

The ROI on Event Sponsorships

It’s difficult to place tangible return-on-investment benchmarks on a name sponsorship. A marina doesn’t generally stamp its name on an event, and the next day forty slips are filled. The investment return is calculated in the intangibles: brand awareness, cultural relevancy, customer loyalty, and new customer awareness.

A 2020 article by Forbes called “Proving the Financial Contribution of Sponsorships To The Business” explored how to quantify the benefits of a name sponsorship. The writer, Stephen Diorio, included a quote by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) CEO Tony Pace that addressed the idea of the intangible delayed returns of advertising and sponsorship:

In the marketing world, the real Super Bowl winner won’t be determined until the fourth quarter. Of the calendar year. From a financial standpoint, the associative value in terms of prominence and popularity of sponsoring the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, or Grammy Awards has a very long tail that can last nine months. More importantly, the financial impact these sponsorship assets can have on brand preference, customer activation and loyalty have a huge multiplier effect. Firms that use financial discipline and get the brand, activation and loyalty aspects of their programs right can get a 10X return on sponsorship investments.

Your marina likely isn’t dishing out a million dollars for a 30-second spot at the local boat parade. But within your community, showing up over your competitor who isn’t providing sponsorship is a massive boost in customer preference and loyalty. This calls back to the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights sponsors list, and backs up why multiple marinas within the same body of water supported the event to have brand inclusion.

marina event

How to Logistically Sponsor an Event

Even for large-scale events, the organizers want your sponsorship dollars and will usually have a contact listed. The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights lists a contact directly on a “Sponsors” page to encourage businesses to support the event. When deciding to sponsor a local gathering, it can be helpful to go into it prepared with a few basic questions: 

  • Where will my business’s name be placed, how prominently, and for how long?    
  • Are there different tiers for sponsorship? 
  • If my town or region is hosting a holiday event that does not have a clear primary sponsor, like Madisonville, Louisiana’s “Twinkle on the Tchefuncte” lighted boat parade, who do I talk with to discuss being the marina? In the case of Madisonville’s event, they list an event organizer with their email address, phone number, and a Google Form for any boats who wish to participate in the decorating contest.  

Sponsoring your small-town holiday parade or boat show is a once- or twice-per-year opportunity, and it can be hard to gauge from a financial perspective if it’s worth it. But from an interpersonal standpoint, it’s priceless. 

You get to directly contribute to the children pointing excitedly at the lights glowing in the dusk, the parents sipping warm drinks, and the delicious street food wafting along the shore. It’s a chance to show that your marina family truly shows up for its community.

Hammer and Nail Marketing


Hammer and Nail Marketing is a boutique marketing firm that helps small to mid-sized marinas get noticed by boaters. If you’d like to focus on operating your marina without the additional responsibility of marketing, get in touch with us.

We’re boaters ourselves from a background of operating a family-run marina. From a group of experts who know the water, let Hammer and Nail Marketing help you be the waterfront your local boaters see every time they cast off.


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