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Sponsorship Connection Tip #10 - Ask Your Sponsor What They Want Out of the Partnership

by Emily Taylor
22 02 2010

Once interest has been established and an initial meeting set, ask your sponsor what they want. At this point you have done enough research to know the basics about what they might consider a goal of the partnership, but stay on top of the ever-changing corporate world. Who knows, they might come up with even better ideas than you initially considered.

Mutually beneficial relationship.  You can put the stress on whichever word you want in that sentence and it’s an appropriate reminder for how sponsorship is supposed to work.  As a property rights’ holder, make it your motto – it keeps you from underselling yourself and from taking advantage of a sponsor.  It promotes long lasting partners and is an all around great perception to maintain about sponsorship in general. 

Remember the movie starring Mel Gibson: What Women Want?  Mel finds himself in the middle of a freak accident involving a wax kit, pantyhose, and a hairdryer; after which he’s able to hear a woman’s thoughts.  He finds it fascinating as well as frightening, and uses it to further his career and generally get him what he wants.  Eventually the surprising insights and transparency moves him to a place where he’s able to empathize with the hearts of women, and he ends up with much better relationships as a result.  Why? – Because he took the time to listen and perceive what women were thinking, what they wanted; beyond the petty self serving surface level stuff.  When you as a sponsorship rights’ holder take the time to peel back the onion and uncover the true goals and objectives of your partner, you become much more valuable and the partnership becomes mutually beneficial. 

Reality is that we live in a world that’s rather self seeking.  In business, people have on their best defense and offense when they go into meetings.  The question is; “how can I make sure I get what I want out of this deal?”  Not that I’m knocking a proactive approach to ensure a deal is well made – but I ask this; how would you feel if you sat down in a meeting with a potential partner, and the first words you heard them say were: “I think we both have reasons to be excited about where this partnership could take us; but just to make sure we’re on the same page, tell me, what is it you would like to see happen in order for this to be beneficial for you?”  Then how would you feel if they sat quietly and listened, taking careful notes, responded appropriately and seriously considered your perspective before they transitioned over to themselves?  Personally, I would breathe a sigh of relief, I’d feel more invited to be creative because I believe they genuinely have an interest in hearing my ideas, I would feel inclined to loyalty (even just for the relief of a sincere partner), and I would be inclined to trust their interest in keeping their side of a deal – and caring about valuable activation.  I would feel like I was being pursued for a partnership and not being pitched for my money.  When you prepare yourself to go into initial meetings, ground setting meetings; with the purpose of moderating a conversation and not verbally dominating; and when you’re quick to listen and slow to speak, you break down walls of suspicion, and self-seeking behaviors. 

You know the saying: two heads are better than one?  It’s true, and hardly anyone will refute it.  So the application is that no matter what kind of great ideas you might have or expect your partner to have regarding activation strategies, the best thing you can do is make it a dual effort.  If you simply listen and do not hear, or worse – ignore the wants of a sponsor, you might as well not have listened at all.  And when you invite a manageable number of individuals into a whiteboard session where you’re brainstorming how to best strategize your efforts, you’re bound to stumble onto something truly brilliant.

So – this is the last of our top 10 sponsorship connection tips!  I hope you thoroughly enjoyed them – we welcome your feedback, and your personal tips.  What has worked for you?  What connection effort do you know of that should be highlighted for those in the sponsorship community?


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Sponsorship Connection Tip #9: Don't Sell Yourself Short

by Emily Taylor
15 02 2010

Even in a world where you might have to add perks you wouldn’t normally add to sell the sponsorship, or consider additional assets to bundle for more package options, make sure your pricing aligns with the value you’re offering a sponsor.  When the economy bounces back, you don’t want to be stuck in a rut because you undersold your sponsorship previously.


Since SponsorPark is not involved in the actual sale of the sponsorship at all, we want to make sure our members are well prepared to consider the best approaches when entering into sales conversations.   Sponsorship sales are more competitive than ever – we all know this to be true.  We all know that many corporate sponsors are cutting budgets, dropping sponsorships, and the “sure deal,” isn’t such a sure thing anymore.  It’s tempting to react out of panic and desperation in order to keep your events and programs alive, but stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath and let’s consider a few things to get a big picture perspective before you make a calculated response.  You have options, so consider them wisely before moving forward with negotiations.

Truth: it’s a buyer’s market.  Sponsors are really in a place right now that they can be choosy and even make demands that they never would have been able to before for the sole reason that they know you need them. 

Option #1: Add perks to sponsorship packages that you “throw in,” in order to make a package more valuable.  It’s better to add perks than to drop your price.  When you drop your price too low, you start to set yourself up for some painful sales in the future.  When a sponsor is used to getting a package of benefits at a particular price, they’re going to be a tough sell when you offer the same thing at a higher rate in the future.  This doesn’t reward their loyalty, and it will require you to communicate value under scrutiny.  Plus, when you reduce the cost of a package, you’re going to have to make up for it somewhere else, and we all know that finding more sponsors isn’t the best option - plus when there are too many sponsors, value of partnership is reduced - too much brand clutter.  What does this option require of you?  That you get creative about the perks you offer.  Dig in to uncover assets you’ve never considered valuable before, use sponsor summits, or access to your target audience in new and inventive ways that don’t cost you more money.  Maybe you’ll feature them in a newsletter as well as sending out an email campaign on their behalf – free and simple. 

Option #2: Offer a deal with a multi-year contract.  It’s true that sponsorship partners are able to accomplish more with longer partnerships.  The pressure for annual sales is relieved, and so maybe you give them discounts on year two and three if they sign now. 

Now, if you’re not going to undersell your sponsorship, you have to make sure you approach a sponsor with an edge.  What’s that edge?  Know your stuff.  This isn’t the season to not be sure about your target audience or know what to expect for attendance.  This is the season to have great ideas about activation, to approach with confidence knowing the power of your potential partnership and communicate the ROI you expect for your partner.  This is the season to know how your opportunity is distinguished from your competition.  You should get to the point quickly, ask for next steps efficiently, and approach with plenty of time in advance.  Don’t waste your time in multiple meetings with a sponsor when you can find out in meeting one whether or not this is a realistic partnership.  Can you deliver for one another what you both want in order to make this work?  Basically, apply the other 8 tips we’ve already mentioned! 

So, how have you applied some of these efforts in your sales push?  Are there some additional options you recommend to keep from selling yourself short?  We’d love to hear them – and so would many others in sponsorship sales!


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5 Ways to Extend the Reach of Sponsorships Through Social Media

by Jason Peck
9 02 2010

Social media is changing the way people and companies communicate, collaborate and conduct business. If you’re a brand, sports team, athlete or event, there’s a great chance people are talking about you online (if they’re not, you may be in trouble).

Sponsorship is an important part of sports. Brands focus on aligning themselves with a team, property or athlete and hoping that fans’ loyalty to that team/property/athlete translates into additional exposure and business for the brand.

Without the right plan for activating a sponsorship and making sure you’re reaching people, a sponsorship can be worthless. Engagement has measurement are more important than ever, and this is where social media can really help. Here are five ways social media can be utilized to engage fans and extend the reach of sponsorships.

1) Tap into fan communities and reach out to fans and bloggers

There are communities (official and unofficial) for people who are fans of specific teams, sports and athletes all over the Internet. These may be in the form of actual communities with Facebook-like features, groups or pages within Facebook, message boards, blogs and other fan websites.

You can also identify fans of a team and/or of your own brand through Twitter. Do a search for your brand terms or just reach out to your followers if you have a Twitter account.

Many of these fans online would love to hear about what cool things come with your sponsorship of their favorite team, and you can use these fan communities to promote what you’re doing with the team. You could hold specific community “events” online or even identify a few key influencers to do something special with.

2) Create content around the sponsorship and make it shareable

Being a sponsor has its perks—access to exclusive team events or practices, tickets and great seats at games and charity functions, access to players and coaches, etc.

It’s great to have these benefits for executives and/or customers to utilize. But don’t forget about the rest of your audience. You can extend the reach of your presence at real-world events or your promotions by creating content around it and putting it online.

I love what Kodak has done with the Kodak Challenge. They’ve created a website with links to pictures and videos and they also have a specific Twitter account, and Facebook page for the Kodak Challenge. While they may not have millions of followers on Twitter, it’s still a low-cost way to spread the word about what they’re doing.
This content can be real-time or after the event/promotion has taken place. A March Madness sponsor could have someone live-tweet or live-blog what it’s like at each of the games he/she attends. A marketing person could do live interviews with fans or team personnel using a platform like Livestream or uStream. The possibilities are endless-sports fans crave access to interesting content.

The key to this is to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content. On-site, use buttons to allow people to easily email or share content with their friends on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget email – if you’re emailing people about specific promotions, include share-to-social functionality so they can easily share the content in these emails with their network.

3) Encourage/reward people for sharing information about your promotion

While some people may want to share information about your sponsorships or promotions, it never hurts to offer a little incentive. It’s not enough just to be on Twitter or Facebook. You have to give people a reason to take the time to engage with you. It also helps to use hashtags for specific promotions or events as a unique identifier and way to track what people are saying.

Why not offer fans rewards for sharing content or information about your sponsorship with their friends? These rewards could be things like discounts or downloads. For example, you can use Twitter’s API and oAuth functionality to have people post a tweet and then get access to a coupon code or exclusive download.

You could also reward people by recognizing them. If someone blogs about your promotion, take the time to leave a comment and thank them. If someone tweets about it, thank them on Twitter, and maybe feature them on your website.

If your brand has a community manager who is monitoring Twitter and other areas online for mentions of your brand, make sure they know about what teams/properties you sponsor so they can keep an eye out for people talking about them as well.

4) Create an interesting app or mashup

There are so many possibilities when it comes to sports and social media. Creating a cool app or mashup of technology and sports can be a great way to get people talking about you. I love what Mullen and Radian6 have done for the Super Bowl. BrandBowl 2010 is a website that lets people see, in real-time, what people are saying about the Super Bowl ads on Twitter. Using Radian6’s technology, people can see which ads get the most positive response, and they don’t have to wait to see what the traditional media says to find out.

There is never any shortage of data in sports or conversations around teams or athletes. Finding an interesting way to present this data can be a way to add value to how fans experience the game, and increase the reach of your sponsorship.

5) Implement a contest around user generated content

Contests are a great way to get talked about online and on social networking websites. If you have a decent prize (and encourage people to share the contest with their friends on social networking sites), contests can spread quickly.

Instead of just asking people to put their name and email address in a form to enter to win, why not have them create a video or write a blog post to enter? This is a great way to get links back to your website and people talking about you. And it’s a lot more fun.

Some ideas for fan contests include:
• Craziest fan challenge
• Best tailgater
• Tell us your favorite player and why

These are just a few ideas. You can probably get a LOT more creative with these names if you spend some solid time thinking about your audience and what people would want.

Social media should definitely be part of the planning process when thinking about how to activate your sponsorships. What do you think about these ideas? What ideas do you have? I’d love to hear them.

Jason Peck is a sports and social media follower, entreprenuer (founder of Highway 24, Media, LLC, and Northern Hills Buzz), project manager (social media/community at eWayDirect), consultant and blogger.  To gain some additional thoughts on the intersection of sports business and social media, check out his blog at: Take A Peck.

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