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Good Surprises vs. Bad Surprises - the Importance of Contracts

by Emily Taylor
  
29 03 2010

Easter is less than a week away!  While I realize that Easter means so much more than chocolate and bunnies (sometimes one and the same); you really can’t help but remembering the traditions you might have experienced growing up.    In our family Easter is a really big deal.  My mom went each year with my sister and I to buy a brand new Easter dress and a girly tradition we all loved.  My parents were also pretty smart – after church they would put all four of us down for a nap after a big lunch while they high tailed it over to Walgreens to buy the Easter candy at half off now that the holiday had already come.  They then proceeded to fill and hide eggs inside and out – and with four kids there were eggs EVERYWHERE!  At least that’s how I remember it… After the mad dash scrambling to fill our baskets with as many eggs as possible we would report back to the kitchen table to discover our finding; opening the little plastic eggs and finding out if we got sweet tarts or a Cadbury egg was just plain exciting.  You couldn’t peel us away from the table before we had unveiled every little surprise. 

But I think we can agree that some surprises are not always fun when it comes to sponsorship.  When you’re expecting something sweet and tasting something sour it’s going to show up in your reaction!  While there aren’t many activation efforts that are implemented without one or two surprises, the good news is there is a way to protect yourself and your partnership from experiencing a surprise that can devastate a partnership; and that is by negotiating, documenting and signing a living contract

When you and a sponsor have gone through a proposed agreement, and have determined that you have a mutually beneficial interest in partnering together, the next priority for both of you is likely going to be that you want a contract in place.  Now, keep in mind, if something is not included or defined in the contract, then no one is help accountable to implement or activate, so it’s best to work through the nitty gritty details of customization before the agreement is signed, this makes sense, too, because how can you truly know if you want to partner if you haven’t discussed the ins and outs of the requirements to partner.  This should shed just a bit more light on why you should allow sufficient timeframes in order to allow a partnership to be presented, negotiated, signed, sold and activated.  This is clearly not an overnight process.  Not everyone would say so, but my personal stand is that you can’t be too small of an opportunity to create a living contract.  Having a contract in place is never going to hurt you, if you think about the details you want included and aren’t half hearted in your effort to define the important pieces; but it will always help you.

So what should you include in a sponsorship contract in order to keep the surprises at bay?  The following list is not exhaustive, but a good start of items to consider when writing a contract and working through the details with a sponsor:

  1. The obvious details: who this contract effects, specifically the sponsor and sponsee, the date of the agreement, and contact details of each party. 
  2. Partnership Expectations: since you’ve spent all of your time creating an attractive proposal and discovering the key objectives of your sponsor, it would be wise to communicate the agreed upon reasons for partnership.  What each party plans to get out of this effort, and the justification for why it all makes sense.  Since you’ve really already defined this, it shouldn’t be tough to highlight in the contract.  This comes in handy for multiple reasons: as activation progresses you’ll want to refer back to the “why” behind each effort – if it fails to support the main reasons why your sponsor wants to partner with you, it’s probably not the best activation effort.  If you have new ideas or can think of innovative new ways to activate, this is a good reference point as well;  (obviously if you do activate new efforts post contract, you’ll need to get them approved or bought in by the sponsor as it could either change the price, or require more on their part).  Last, knowing the reasons for partnership will also be a good reference point for ROI reporting, information collecting for post event reporting, and the results will give you a leg to stand on as you move into renewal conversations.
  3. Terms of the agreement: this might be one of the most important places to get specific about.  This should highlight everything from the method of payment, types of payment (if in-kind exchanges are included), details around any kind of development that hinges on the amount; for example – if the amount of payment is directly related to the number of event attendees, you’ll need a formula for communicating the ticket sales and determining time frames for cash received.  Timeframes should also be carried over when you walk through the specific assets and activation efforts related to the partnership as well.  If you need to create and publish a radio spot by a particular date, this should be communicated in order to prepare the sponsor to offer what they need to get it done in a timely manner.   Whether it’s a definition of category exclusivity being offered (with specifics around what does and does not apply to the category), what kind of media exposure you’re offering and the details around ability to use sponsor logos or any other boundaries around brand affiliation, you should define as specifically as possible what you are each bringing to the table and answer the line of who, what, when, where, and why questions.  It’s also wise as you proceed with each effort/asset, that you define the value associated.  It’s never a bad thing to underscore the value of the partnership you’re offering.
  4. In case of dissolved agreement: there should be a section which clearly indicates what happens if either side needs to dissolve the agreement.  Are there any extenuating circumstances that will dissolve them of any obligation to provide the funding promised?  Bankruptcy, change in leadership, etc.  If not, you need to clearly communicate that understanding, knowing that ultimately it is in your best interest to maintain the relationship when at all possible while at the same time protecting yourself and your property.
  5. Who’s responsible for what: never assume!  This really ties into the terms of the agreement section, but when you’re walking through activation efforts, it would be foolish not to identify how these things are going to happen, or at least the most appropriate contacts from each party that will be communicating to make sure efforts run smoothly.  Rarely does one step up to the plate to deliver if it hasn’t been clearly assigned. 
  6. Renewal benefits: It can only help you to start pre selling.  Anyone who has been in sponsorship for any length of time can attest to the fact that regardless of the side you’re on (sponsor or property), it is much less of a headache to renew and continue a partnership than to start fresh, and how better to communicate your loyalty and value to a brand than by offering a benefit to renew that is outlined in the contract.  Perhaps you give them first chance (within a reasonable timeframe) to renew as an exclusive sponsor, or title sponsor.  Or maybe you give them a percentage discount for agreeing to renew by a certain date for a 5 year agreement.  Either way, you want to plant those seeds early.

Again, these are just a quick glimpse into some of the items you really should consider including in a sponsorship contract, it’s not exhaustive, but a good start.  So, not only to underscore your credibility, to set yourself up for renewal, and to protect yourself from getting a jellybean when you were expecting Reece’s Pieces; put together a detailed and thorough contract!  Any stories on what you’ve experienced with or without a contract in place?  Tell us your victories or your horror stories, educate your peers by telling us of your experience with contracts. 

 

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Recommended Sponsorship Resources

by Emily Taylor
  
23 03 2010

I recently made a comment on a Sponsorship Insights Group discussion on LinkedIn pointing out my favorable opinion of sponsorship industry leaders pointing to valuable resources.  I really believe that when you take a “neutral” position as an industry thought leader, and are able to offer direction to assist people in navigating towards valuable resources which focus on the many aspects one must consider to grow their sponsorship efforts it does several things:

  • Grows the industry as a whole; pointing to best practices and industry tools develops the individuals making up the industry more effectively.
  • Underscores a mature perspective – let’s be honest, one person/resource can’t be everything to everyone, there are individuals with a specialty focus who will build the community best within their niche.
  • Holds all sponsorship resources accountable – whether you’ve been around for a long time or you’re a new company, people affected by sponsorship need the truth about the best resource for them.  Whether you’re a big fish or a small fish doesn’t mean your words/efforts are always gold, let’s hold one another accountable in our positions of influence. 


That being our stance at SponsorPark, we decided it was time to take our own advice and start pointing the finger in the direction of resources we believe are bar none.  If you review the list and believe something has been left out or you have found to be well worth your while, feel free to comment!

  1. Power Sponsorship - Kim Skildum-Reid has a tremendous background in sponsorship, and her books as well as her blog have become powerful resources underscoring best practice sponsorship.  All of which I have found clear, applicable and action oriented. 
  2. Sponsorship Insights Group - this link is to their LinkedIn page which I directed you to for the reason that you will find the largest group of sponsorship related professionals on the internet in one place contributing in valuable discussions.  See Dan Beeman’s guest blog post for more information on this group.  If you want to stay on top of networking within the industry, this is the place to do it.
  3. SponsorshipPRO+ - we have mentioned this software resource created by Tom Stipes before.  SP+ is a tool that makes you better able to organize and present activation details and underscore ROI to your sponsor.  Big or small, if you are a property interested in really impressing your sponsor partners with valuable details of how you implemented the partnership; this is a must use software.
  4. IEG - IEG is one of the most well known sponsorship resources; and while some resources such as their sponsorship report and the blog are great educational resources for almost anyone in the sponsorship industry, I encourage individuals to do their homework on most resources to ensure it adds value to your efforts, not everything will meet everyone’s needs.  Their conference is wrapping up now, which we attended last year and found quite helpful – just be ready for the price of the investment.  IEG seems to be the object of scrutiny lately in many blogs and discussions I've seen posted, as to whether they're holding thier value; I submit to you my humble opinion that there is still plenty they have to offer an individual that can be found as informative and helpful in staying educated on industry trends, however pricy they might be.
  5. Partnership Activation – Brian Gainor has a great blog (and you can sign up for his newsletter), and he highlights some of the great strategies and best practices of, you guessed it, partnership activation. 
  6. Take a Peck - Jason Peck has some really fantastic insights on the concept of social media.  It's a little bit seperate from the other sponsorship resources I've mentioned, but I truly believe that eventually (in the next 5 years or so) social media will be much more important to have a handle on as it relates to sponsorship. 

I grew up a pastor’s kid, and one particular verse my parents always repeated was “he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I really believe this can be carried over into growing in your industry.  If you want to grow, and have a healthy perspective on what’s going on now, what’s changing, and how you can impact the community, you need to stay educated with top notch resources.  Take the time to read the blogs, create a Google Alert with the keywords/topics you’re interested in, hop on board with the social media revolution and conduct targeted searches to on twitter, LinkedIn and facebook.  Surround yourself with other thought leaders and trust me, you’ll start talking the talk and walking the walk a lot better.  Obviously this is just a taste of what’s out there, the truth is there is plenty more, and I’m very interested in hearing your insights and experience with other tools as well.

 

Categories:   ROI | Social Media | Sponsorship resources
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Like it or Not, Social Media is Here to Stay

by Stephanie Lochmiller
  
16 03 2010

Do you remember when the internet first launched? Do you remember how long it took some organizations to jump on board and admit that it wasn't just a passing trend for IT gurus? Well, my 84-year-old grandmother is now pretty savvy with her email, even if she does CONTINURE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS. And my mother, bless her heart keeps asking me if she should get on Facespace... I take that to be Facebook or Myspace, she's not quite sure though. Well the internet is here folks, and now, so is social media, and its not going anywhere.

Over the last several weeks, I have posed the following question to several of my sponsorship colleagues; "How are you incorporating Social Media into your Sponsorship programs?" The response I get is varied.

I either have people come back with awesome programs, like Chris Yates with
Huddleproductions.com  and their search for Bud Light's Ultimate Tailgater. Chris tells me that his efforts in social media have been more effective than those of traditional media. Their Youtube channel has given them over 400k views and their Facebook page offers their fans a place to interact with each other. Way to go Chris, you've effectively offered your fan base another outlet to promote your product, and you've done it in such a way that your fans are driving the traffic with minimal effort from you. Kudos!

 

On a side note, also consider that I initially had this conversation with Chris on LinkedIn, where our conversation was public for all to see and learn from, and has now reached out to the SponsorPark blog reader base, and will be retweeted and posted on Facebook with people linking through to Huddle Productions Youtube channel. Viral Marketing at its best!


On the flip side, I get people who say they can't find effective ways to sell on social media and that they aren't seeing any ROI for their efforts. Well my first suggestion to these people is to stop trying to sell. People don't want to be sold to on social media.
What they want
is for you to add value, offer them an insight or an opportunity to connect. Chances are if you're trying to sell you're being intentionally ignored.

So where do you start if you're completly new to social media?
Mashable.com is a great source for beginners, and offered this article about using social media as a tool and not allowing it to become a distraction. Want a few simple ways to enhance your sponsorship package? Tweet about your sponsors, link to them on your blogs, chat them up on Facebook. These simple ways really will set you apart from your competition that isn't using social media. Also take quick look at this article
 on where sponsors fit into social media.

Do you have a proposal listed on SponsorPark? Use the "Share This" button at the bottom of your proposal to push your link out to many different social media sites. This is a non-intrusive way to get your proposal in front of potential sponsors without much work. For the more advanced social media users, check out a recent blog post from Jason Peck, with some
great ideas for extending your reach.

For those of you who still aren't convinced, I encourage you to do your
research and come up with a plan that works for you, even if it is minimal. A small presence is better than none, and it’s something to grow from, and I promise you, if you build a legitimate network with valuable information, your followers will come.

 

Categories:   General | industry happenings | ROI | Social Media
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