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What Are You Inciting in Your Audience?

by Emily Taylor
  
31 08 2010

Have you ever read 15 pages of a book and then suddenly stopped and realized you don’t remember a thing you read because your brain was spinning on another topic?  Or have you listened to a speaker, (maybe right after lunch) who rambled on and on who inspired nothing but a sudden desire to grab a pillow? Have you ever been to a concert where you weren’t allowed to stand up and clap or dance or basically express your elation in the experience?  Have you ever heard a speaker tell a story that moved you to write a check, or sign up to volunteer?  Seen a movie that made you cry, laugh, get scared, inspire you? 

Our experiences incite something in us.  There is a cause and effect in the activities we take action in, and I can think of nothing this concept doesn’t apply to.  Whether it’s good or bad, intentional or unintentional, our experiences drive us to react in some way.  So, as a sponsorship opportunity representative, when you are planning out your sponsorship opportunities for a sponsor to take part in, realize that you’re providing an experience for their consumer (your audience) to react to.  Sponsors realize that experiences are valuable, people take their memories and interactions away with them for a lifetime; so if the experience you’re asking them to affiliate with is interactive, memorable, and their audience is going to easily affiliate them with it, you’re on to something. 

One question you have to ask before you start approaching sponsors is, “what do I want to incite in my audience?”  Do you want them to take an action?  Do you want them to have a great day with their family?  Do you want to inspire them to take pictures and participate in games or activities?  Do you want them to exercise more or eat healthier?  Do you want them to talk about what they just did that day with 10 peers, or sign up to volunteer at your charity?  People like to be entertained and people like to feel inspired – providing that warm and fuzzy incites a reaction that opens mouths to tell their friends, offer loyalty to your sponsors, and come back or stay involved.  Whatever the action step or reaction that you want to provide might be, this will greatly impact what kind of sponsors you are going to pursue, because clearly you want your goals to be complementary, and you want their impact and involvement to support that which you want to incite in your audience.  On the flip side, you also have to keep in mind that what you want to incite in your audience MUST resonate with your sponsor.  How is their brand going to benefit by playing into this experience?  And what’s more is, if you’re inciting something in your audience, how are you tying your sponsors into that reaction?  That’s great if your audience loves you, but do they even remember what sponsors supported you in order to deliver that experience?  The mark of a great activation effort is an audience that was positively incited, and the brands are remembers and directly impacted as a result. 

I spoke to a client a few days ago who said they watched some of the activation efforts of their sponsor, and they had so many ideas for how to capitalize on the effort, but didn’t say anything because they didn’t think the sponsor would want their toes stepped on.  His final comment was: “well, I guess as long as he’s signing the check he can do whatever he wants, even if it could be better…”  I almost died.  That’s not a real partnership, that’s using a company to get what you need and ultimately, if the sponsor wises up and realizes they aren’t capitalizing the way they should be, they’re going to be out the door anyway – so help yourself and help your sponsor, and open up the lines of communication so that you are making the most of an experience. 

On the flip side, I heard of a particular property who, at their sponsor summits, would provide a vision casting session, where sponsors were able to talk about how their activation efforts worked, what their new focus is, and then network among one another in order to discuss how perhaps their collaborating efforts might improve the experience of the audience and

 

incite a wanted behavior that directly impacted the sponsors.  Brilliant.  You not only provide a catalyst event for sponsors to collaborate, get inspired and make the most of their efforts, but you’re using multiple minds with incentive to make an experience better than if you were trying to activate by yourself. 

So if you have stories, tell them – we love to hear about people that incite behaviors – sponsorship is truly a marketing experience and your ability to drive action is a powerful thing.

 

 

 

 

Categories:   General | industry happenings | sponsorship activation | Sponsorship resources | sponsorship sales
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How to be an Attractive Sponsorship Partner

by Emily Taylor
  
24 08 2010

When I was a happy go lucky teenager first getting interested in boys, I remember at one point my Mom encouraging me to make a list of the qualities I wanted in a man so that I had better direction for who I dated.  Not only was that fun for me as I created my list of 27 characteristics, but the important ones actually did end up helping me to really think about who I was compatible with and wanted to allow into my life.  Now, in the end, it didn’t matter if he had blue eyes or dark brown hair, but the things that were non-negotiable to me ended up proving great qualifiers for future serious relationships. 
In the same way, sponsorship sales can sometimes feel like you’re going out for a blind date, you’re desperately hoping for a great connection and hoping you make a good impression too.  There are some ways you can proactively stand out in the crowd as an attractive partner.

Get Creative – Dinner and a movie… yawn.  Logo up on a banner… double yawn.  When you’re trying to make an impression, you’re impressive when you think innovatively.  Consumers bore easily, and so activating a partnership needs to be done in a way that your sponsor becomes memorable.  Bust out that white board and ask them what they want – anything, and start thinking about how you could possibly make that happen for them.  And don’t leave it to them – have a few ideas of your own, paint a picture of an exciting partnership, one they simply can’t walk away with they’re so curious to see what you say next. 

Do what you say you’re going to do – Ever heard empty promises?  Or maybe started fulfilling your end of a deal when suddenly the charismatic counterpart ended up renegotiating his piece halfway through the deal?  Or worse – they don’t deliver at all.  If you want a bitter partner with a mouthpiece, being unfaithful to your promises is the fastest way to paint a target on your back.  If you follow through faithfully and do everything in your power to put action steps in place to honor your promises, your sponsors will be not only singing your praise, but count major points in the positive towards considering a contract with you for following years – why?  Because you’re reliable – and it’s tough to put a price on that.

Go above and beyond when you get the chance (add value when you’re able) – My husband once told me we should take a quick vacation with the 15 days I had between jobs.  I thought he would take me to Des Moines to see his family, or maybe Kansas City for a weekend getaway – he surprised me with tickets to Cabo.  The reaction was undeniably favorable, he had big points in my book for a very long time.  When you’re able to find ways to add value to a sponsor’s partnership without requiring more of them is a fast way to earn points and be considered a selfless partner.  You mean it when you say you want the best for them; now the tight rope you have to walk is that you don’t give away the farm.  You don’t want to take away value from your offerings by doing something for nothing – and if your investment is a big one, perhaps you ask for their interest level and propose a cohesive effort to the addendum.  You have to remember that your assets are like a pie, you only have so much, and the more pieces you cut, the less “big” each piece becomes.  Nonetheless, small efforts of value adds when you don’t have to won’t be forgotten.

Communicate your needs clearly – this makes it easier for your partner to know how to take care of you.  If you don’t ask, you don’t receive, and if you get angry about something you didn’t clearly communicate, the fault is nothing but your own.  And this is a place where it’s good to recognize how valuable you are.  No one likes a needy, whiny partner.  Your confidence in your value is communicated by asking for reasonable and valuable contributions.  One – sided relationships always fail because only one of you is putting forth an effort, and that’s just not sustainable.  If you want to make your sponsor’s life easier, make it clear what you want and what you need, and then partner with them to enable that to happen.

Be easy to get a hold of – being mysterious is not sexy in sponsorship.  I signed a partnership agreement with a property once who was incredibly engaging in their initial conversations with me, then after the signature was on the line, it was nearly impossible to get a hold of.  Nothing rips the “your important” rug out from under a sponsor’s feet faster than being inaccessible to them.  They say quality and open communication is critical for a relationship to work – that includes sponsorship partners.

Ongoing attention / ROI measurement support – You can’t do this all alone, but you can support in ways that no one else can.  Make sure to ask them what they end up wanting out of the partnership and then doing everything in your ability to assist in measuring the effort.  You WILL want to know if the effort worked or not.  If it worked – great, you’ve got yourself a solid reason to resign; if it didn’t, you need a chance to prove how you can improve.  And ultimately, if it’s not working, you both need to move on.  And it’s good to stay on the radar.  Just because your program ended for the year, or your event ended two months ago and you’ve not quite entered sales mode again, send a card over Christmas, grab lunch to stay in touch and don’t just disappear until you need the check signed again. 

Obviously I’m just breeching the surface of great qualities, but it’s a good start.  Any other great ideas out there – feel free to post!

 

Categories:   sponsorship activation | sponsorship sales | tips
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My Favorite Take-Away's from the Global Leadership Summit 2010

by Emily Taylor
  
17 08 2010

I recently attended the Global Leadership Summit – the best leadership development conference I’ve ever been to.  It was my fourth year, and not only was I surrounded by interesting and proactive individuals, but the speakers who graced us with their insights were both remarkable and brilliant.  I only hope I absorbed enough wisdom to actually do something with all the quality information I hastily scribbled notes over.  Many of the insights/best practices can be translated into sponsorship application, so I thought I’d share my experience with you!  Without further adieu, here are my favorite points/take-aways:

  1. Don’t mistake hours for productivityTony Dungy made this comment, which I found to be a great reminder.  As it relates to sponsorship, I think there are never ending tasks we could participate in to “better” our efforts and some are more effective than others.  Just because you worked a 12 hour day doesn’t mean you implemented efforts that moved the needle on your business.   Make your hours effective by prioritizing your tasking and weighing which tasks accomplish more towards your overall goal and make sure to spend your time there!  Also, keep in a mind that a well rounded person maintains their passion – be sure to invest in other areas of your life that you value as well.  There are enough nights that truly call for your attention around the clock, don’t create more of them by being unproductive. 
  2. “Denial of Risk and Peril” is one of 5 researched behaviors in the decline of a busisnessJim Collins, author of Good to Great, and How the Mighty Fall, established a list of 5 common practices/behaviors of business that fail.  When it comes to sponsorship, I think this particular point is of interest.  The economy is rough, sponsorship IS still happening, but if your property is facing dire circumstances, you need to respond in a timely manner or else you’ll kill it completely.  I’ve spoken with numerous fantastic properties that simply weren’t going to perform at the level they needed to stay alive and they postponed the event until they could, or took off a year in order to gear up for a better effort.  Rather than ignorantly destroying your audience’s trust in your property, do what it takes to evaluate status of your efforts and react with enough time to set the pace instead of turn in your keys.  It only takes a moment to lose your target audience’s loyalty if you blow it bad enough.  This is not meant to sound harsh or apathetic, it’s an encouragement to do what it takes to stay alive when the chips are stacked against you.
  3. Waterline Concept – Terri Kelly (President and CEO of W.L. Gore and Associates) gave an interesting insight about one of their foundational guides.  The waterline concept says their employees can take educated risks with new ideas as long as they don’t compromise the established core values of the brand.  When you consider a ship example, if you drill a hole below the waterline, the ship sinks, but if you want to experiment above the waterline… drill as you please and new solutions could emerge without threatening the life of the ship!  In sponsorship, it’s wise to encourage your team and the team of your partners to “think outside the box,” to do things they’ve never done before, get creative and customize with the sky being the limit – as long as it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the brand or the foundational goals of the partner.  Opening up the door to creativity allows a freedom that invites spectacular results and noteworthy activation.  Daniel Pink underscored this concept by noting in his speech about motivation that measured autonomy and the practice of giving freedom is actually where some companies see their most valuable initiatives take off.  Ex: Google developed g-mail and Google news from giving their associates freedom to do whatever they want with 20% of their time.  What kind of freedom could you offer your team to enhance creativity in your sponsorships? 
  4. Integrate giving into your business model and your consumer will do your marketing for you – Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Tom’s Shoes, made the statement that integrating giving into your business/program is one of the best growth strategies you can implement.  Whether you are for profit or not for profit, consumers and partners like affiliating with a cause.  In fact, these efforts end up viral many times, and build the story behind your efforts. Let your consumer market for you by giving them a reason to get excited about what you’re doing.  Inspiring a positive reaction with your target audience and giving the ability for your sponsors to affiliate with that story is tremendously valuable.  Ex: Microsoft partnered with Tom’s Shoes and the mutually beneficial partnership was explosive in their first campaign for “One day without Shoes.”  Microsoft has since become a long term partner of theirs. 
  5. Celebrate victories – Jack Welsh, the former CEO of GE knows a thing or two about seeing a company make it through ups and downs.  We all know very well that there are seasons, quite possibly now for many, where things are tough.  If you want to motivate those in your circle of influence, whether your target audience or your activation team, your partners or any of your key influencers; you need to find milestones to celebrate.  People on your team thrive on periodic celebrations revolved around results.  Studies show that driving results is the biggest motivator to an individual, so it’s a good idea to point those out and motivate to keep the excitement flowing and the vision for success crystal clear.   Bill Hybels noted as well, that it’s in the middle of your route from point A to point B that discouragement hits hardest.  How might you consider that in your sponsorship efforts?  Perhaps middle of the year you celebrate with your team how far you’ve come, or you send a random summary of your successes to your partners and celebrate with them too. 
  6. Passion promotes productivity: One last theme I heard consistently throughout the conference was related to passion.  Are you passionate about your property?  About your brand?  Are you passionate about the story that you represent and do you require the same out of your staff?  You are responsible for the staff that represents you, and If you don’t feel passionate you can’t expect your team to demonstrate passion either.  Why are you passionate about sponsorship?  Define and know these things so that you can pull from these reasons when you have those days where you feel like you’re running on fumes. 

Honestly, I could write pages upon pages of great snippets from this conference, but we’ll stop here!  If anyone else attended and has insights to add – please feel free to post!

 

Categories:   General | tips
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