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Sponsorship Fulfillment Reporting - More Important Than Ever

by Tom Stipes
27 10 2009

Tom Stipes, President of SponsorshipPRO+; expert on fulfillment reporting, and this week's guest blogger:

Congratulations to SponsorPark for bringing exciting new technology to the industry.  It’s a valuable proposition being offered and we’re confident that your hard work and vision will be rewarded. 

As the economic climate thaws, it will be interesting to see which best-practices products and services are deemed most valuable by the marketplace.  Every year industry-specific survey results are released and the subject of fulfillment reporting takes a prominent role at the table of discussion.

Consistently there are two glaring observations:   More sponsors want them done and done right… and more properties admit they fall short. 

One thing all of us on the selling side know is that the consistent message from many sponsors is that post-event recap reports are the single most important element in the buyer-seller relationship; even more important than the recall or loyalty shown their own brand as a result of the buy.  This doesn’t even address the notion of quality or detail contained in the report – just that they are done, at all!

Then we learn (almost unbelievably in today’s market) a large percentage of properties admit they aren’t producing them in any format - at all.  By large percentage I mean nearly half of those surveyed, a shocking number to me.  And I always wonder, “How do they expect to renew the deal if the buyer can’t review what they received?”

The simple answer may be that the best (in any industry) always earn that distinction based on their actions.  But today’s sponsorship buyer is begging for better service in this area.  That means resisting the notion to put together a big binder or another deck with some photos and a few bullet points.

Now let’s talk about the reality of actually changing the way you manage the sponsorship recap reports process.  The question some may be wondering:  “How do I do more, how do I show more given the constraints of time plus the lack of budget and personnel?”

While not meant as anything more than a few good ideas in a small space, following are some things that change-oriented property senior management can do:

1 – Compete.  Be open to new ways of doing business – your competitors are.  This may mean considering even drastically different strategies that will involve an initial cost of time and cash, but that will pay off with far better reporting.  At the end of the day, what’s more important than the stabilization of your relationship with the decision-maker at every single sponsor on your roster?  Think of it as “Relationship ROI”.
2 – Learn; one example is IEG’s excellent, recurring Webinar on this topic.  The handout materials are both thorough and filled with tangible ideas for elevating your organization’s plan.  Look at www.sponsorship.com for their Webinar and other offerings.
3 – Search.  Look for tools, technical solutions or applications that can help your group enter the digital age.  While our SponsorshipPRO+ is the only software built just for this purpose, there are other products to help build the overall story as well.  We love the use of Windows Movie Maker, screen grab tools like HyperSnap and media compression tools like Encoder – all help you share more of the critical multimedia files available to tell a better story and compliment perfectly the use of SP+. 
4 – Expand.  Work all year – not just in the weeks after the event.  By cobbling away the contractual benefits for the sponsor as they occur (think about the advance-of-event PR that happens organically – grab it and store it digitally so it’s there when you need it) you can reduce the post-event hysteria when deadlines are nearing.
5 – Share.  If you’re a multi-event organization, use mid-term reports.  If you follow step 4 you’ll be gaining on step 5 since the content will already be in place.  This strategy helps what we call ‘transition survival”.  Imagine that your main contact leaves a few months before your event or your season’s end.  Their replacement will have a better chance of elevating your event to the top-of-mind if they get a report more than just once a year.  Increase your value simply by increasing your visibility.
6 – Listen.  Talk to your sponsor to find out what they want:  It’s not a one-size-fits-all model.  Some will want more, some less in terms of detail.  But that you asked, that you engaged them in a specific call to get their opinion will help at renewal time. 
7 – Accentuate.  Focus particularly on over-delivery.  They ask for more benefits in some cases and when you deliver, make sure you drive that point home in the recap.  And do it as creatively as possible.
8 – Enumerate.  Metrics can be scary to some but jump in and embrace the numbers.  Impressions still count with many sponsors.  Specific media metrics aren’t hard and are available.  Activation efforts can be more easily tracked with sales or in-market penetration than some items such as PR.  But with a little extra effort, mileage can be gained by attaching a value to as many benefits as you can.  IEG pioneered the concept of authentic valuation and offer terrific tools, but they have company now.  Look around and find out what it truly costs to support your property’s offer and its deliverable measurement of worth.
9 – Motivate.  Be upbeat with your staff – the rising tide lifts all boats and if you make them look better through employing a new strategy or tool then everyone wins.
10 – Modernize.  A $250 video cam and an intern can turn your property into a video-sharing property in no time.  The YouTube, grainy video look is in and, while not as polished as a professionally-produced spot, collecting and sharing lots of brand and fan interaction from your event can be invaluable in the post-event meetings.  The tools are there, they’re affordable and many sponsors are expecting to see more audio and video from you next time around.

Summary:  Post-event fulfillment reports are often discussed at conferences these days but often forgotten until the last moment of need.  And the days of producing heavy, environmentally-challenging, one-dimensional binders are largely over in terms of establishing value with your sponsors.  They simply want more from you now.

While we’ll be happy to share more as to why we believe so strongly in the affordable, digital advantage of www.SponsorshipPRO.com , our basic hope is that no property gets shown the door simply because they did nothing or didn’t know what to do.  There’s much work to be done…let’s get started.

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Leveraging your underutilized assets- What is your added value?

by Stephanie Lochmiller
20 10 2009

With the economy being a bit bumpy these days it may come as a surprise to some that sponsorship- while not growing as fast as originally projected for this rocky year (according to IEG), it is still showing slightly positive margins.  Why? Because sponsorship has proven to be considered effective and consumers trust it. Plain and simple.  And one reason why corporate sponsors love it is because it is an innovative and effective way to get in front of their target market.  It's outside the box, interactive, and when great partners come together- even greater things happen.

So how does today’s economy influence sponsorship proposals?  Well, in lots of ways, but one is this: It is a buyer’s market, and sponsors are able to demand more out of sponsorship opportunities than ever before, which means added value has become increasingly important to consider when selling packages.

While your first instinct as a sponsorship opportunity may be to lower your initial investment price I encourage you to hold strong.  It’s always easier to lower cost as a last resort (although this does likely mean you will need more sponsors to cover the difference, meaning you’ll also have to come up with more packages…not to mention, you're placing lower value on your assets).  Instead I encourage you to tap into your underutilized assets; your hidden treasures.  Hidden treasures are those valuable assets that you might never have considered when times were "smooth" and competition wasn't nearly so high; they might be waiting to be creatively considered as an addition to a package.  And what does that do for you?  It allows your assets to maintain their value- you simply add some perks to the package- the cherry on top if you will.

Who is your target market?  In what ways can you creatively educate them about these precious partners by explaining that without these partnerships your event or program may not be possible- or worse it might be expensive for them to attend.  This becomes even more valuable if you have a loyal customer base that will be more likely to support your sponsors.  Your target audience is your greatest asset - but you might not have considered all the ways you can reach them for your sponsor.  Now is the time to truly take the time to asses your assets and consider the less obvious and underutilized treasures that will lead to even greater support and buy in.

What about Social Media?  This is another avenue that won't cost you much upfront, but will serve as a great way to add value to a proposal.  You can feature sponsors in blog posts, promote them on your Facebook page, and tweet about them.  This is an easy way to extend the reach of your partnership, especially if you have a strong following built on these different mediums.

Who are your B2B contacts that your sponsors could benefit from networking with?  What do you have to offer above and beyond logo placement, ad space and the usual benefits?  It is these “cherry on top of the cake” ideas that sponsors love because they like something different, outside the box, something that distinguishes them apart from anyone else.  Give your sponsor a pedestal with their audience by being creative with your assets. Get competitive by getting creative.

So, what have you done with your sponsorship packages?  Do you have a creative proposal or partnership?  Have you discovered new hidden treasures that you've incorporated into your proposals?  Tell us about it!   We’d love to listen! What ideas have you put into motion to add value to your proposals that go above and beyond?




Categories:   Elements of a Proposal
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Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String

by Stephanie Lochmiller
13 10 2009

In a perfect sponsorship world, packages would be just that simple, right?  A perfect little package you could tie a string around and present to your Sponsor and have them as excited as a small child on Christmas morning.  Unfortunately, that's not always the reality.  Sponsorship proposals usually take a number of drafts and revisions before both parties are ready to sign on that dotted line.

One of the elements we find critical to include in a proposal are packages and benefits.  This is critical for many reasons, one of which being that a sponsor needs to be able to have a cohesive understanding of what you’re asking for and what they’re going to get out of a partnership.  Another reason we find it important is because sponsors have indicated to us in the past that if this information is not straightforwardly offered, they become not only suspicious of the ask, but unable to determine if it aligns with their marketing interests.

It's important for sponsorship opportunities to keep in mind that the initial package you put together to present to a sponsor is just a starting point and that you will almost always have to go back, rearrange and redesign elements to suit your sponsor's needs.   My advice once you get in the door for that first meeting? Sit back and be quiet.  A good rule of thumb is the 70/30 rule.  70% of your time should be spent listening to what your potential sponsor wants out of a partnership, and the other 30% can be spent with you talking or asking questions.  From this meeting you should be able to come up with a package that is more tailored to your sponsors needs.  Perhaps they want category exclusivity? Or maybe they want their name on one of your community focused events.  Maybe logo placement and visibility is most important to them.  Realize that this process needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties involved.  Don’t let yourself get caught up in the traps that prevent your sponsorships from selling.

Also, bear in mind that chances are with this economy sponsors are going to make you work harder for their sponsorship dollars and you'll have to adapt to selling sponsorship in a down economy.  They are going to have to justify more strictly the marketing dollars they allot for sponsorship, so you'd better make it worth their while.  Does this mean lowering your investment price?  No, not necessarily, but perhaps you can focus on your intangible assets and added values.

 Hopefully by your second or third meeting with a sponsor, you can present them with that perfect little package tied up with string, or ribbon, or yarn… whatever it is they might want!


Categories:   Elements of a Proposal
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