The National Basketball Association recently approved advertising on uniform jerseys for the first time in league history. In fact, the NBA is the first of the four major sports leagues in the U.S. — including NFL, MLB and NHL to put ads on its jerseys.

"Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "The additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways."

Following in the footsteps of NASCAR, MLS and European major league sports, the NBA is opening the door for an enormous boost in sponsorship money and maybe sports in general. The sponsors will be allowed to have a 2.5-inch patch on the left shoulder of the jerseys.

The advertisements are estimated to produce about $150 million in total revenue per year. Half of the generated revenue will go to the designated team and the other half will be added to the leagues’ funds.

This new initiative is not only beneficial for the teams, but also for businesses. Companies around are gearing up to expand their brands even more by placing patches on NBA jerseys and you should follow suit.

Now, I don't mean it's time to call up the NBA and offer to purchase a patch, but it's always a good marketing tactic to look around your community and see what you can sponsor. This has been a tactic for many years with larger companies, but small businesses can join in as well.

That said, remember that sponsorship is not the same as advertising. "Advertising is considered a quantitative medium, whereas sponsorship is considered a qualitative medium. It promotes a company in association with the sponsee," IEG's Complete Guide to Sponsorship states.

Whether it be a school project, local sports club, art exhibition or business competition, sponsorships can generate a good amount of publicity. You're using the manpower, funds and audience to bring two organizations together and ultimately promote and grow your brand awareness.

If that's not enough, a Vodafone case study in the U.K. stated the following benefits of sponsorships for companies:

  • raise brand awareness and create preference
  • create positive PR and raise awareness of the organization as a whole
  • provide attractive content for a range of products and services
  • build brand positioning through associative imagery
  • support a sales promotion campaign
  • create internal emotional commitment to the brand
  • act as corporate hospitality that promotes good relations with clients

We all know advertising can get expensive. Using that same amount or less to sponsor an event is a much smarter choice that will bring you a better return on investment. Although the ROI might not always translate directly into dollar signs, the increase of brand awareness, community support and customer loyalty is worth it.

So what are you waiting for? Go find an event or organization to sponsor! No matter what it is, it'll be a win-win for your company.