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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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Sponsorship Connection Tip #2: Offer Tiered Packages / Benefits

by Emily Taylor
7 12 2009


Tip #2: Offer tiered packages / benefits: When you communicate the benefits of partnering to a sponsor, a quick way to kill interest is not to offer options, or worse, no insight at all as to what your asking price might be. Your tiers should also be cascading – make it worth a sponsors while to offer more support in exchange for a more extensive package of benefits. 

Everyone likes options.  It’s why Baskin Robbins boasts of starting with 31 flavors of ice cream (now with over 1,000), and why you see as many styles of cars on the road as people driving them!  “One size fits all,” is an expired truth unless you’re talking about spandex or stretchy pants – and even then it’s not always true. 

Establishing Packages and Benefits for a sponsor is critical and communicates that you understand the meaning of a: “mutually beneficial relationship.” Offering clearly specified benefits for a sponsor’s support is what separates true sponsorship from charitable donations; if all you’re offering is a tax write off, you’re not looking for sponsors, you’re looking for donors

Establishing benefits to a potential partner means you need to inventory your assets.  Make it a whiteboard session with all of those department decision makers involved in your sponsorship opportunity.  Sit down and brainstorm what you have to offer, your assets – you’ll have your basics of logos, tickets and general hospitality, but you’ll want to take it beyond that.  Consider your tangible assets – radio coverage, celebrity involvement, audience numbers, publications, website usage, and guaranteed media, the various signage opportunities and your audience database... the list goes on and on.  Then consider your intangible assets; prestige, popularity, audience loyalty, exclusivity, or media interest.  Once you’ve inventoried what you have to offer, you then need to communicate the value of the related benefit.  Now, it’s wise to remember that the value of each of these offerings will change for each sponsor that reviews them.  One brand strategy might be that they really want partner exclusivity in a particular category of events, where it’s not as valuable to another potential sponsor.  Another sponsor might love the fact that you have tremendous advertisement abilities because they are introducing a new product and want to get in front of more of their target audience for the big push!  It really depends – so the value you offer as your package price is really more valuable to some sponsors in relation to their marketing objectives and less valuable to others in the same respect.  But can you see the problem in not reflecting a price at all?!  A potential sponsor needs to know where to start – are you asking $15,000 or $50,000 as a ballpark asking price?  This way they know much better whether it’s a match made in Heaven, or if their efforts are stronger elsewhere.  I once heard a sponsor from a major corporate brand say that if they were given a proposal and there was no asking price established, the review stopped there.  They pitched it.  “When a sponsorship opportunity representative offers me no insight into the price of the sponsorship and immediately want a meeting, it makes me suspicious.”  Yikes.  Keep your proposal from getting tossed in the trash and give at least a ballpark. 

Why multiple packages?  If you have just one option, then you have just one consideration and one response.  If you have multiple packages and/or cascading packages, you are able to ask them to consider a range of benefits, just because they can’t afford the title package doesn’t mean they don’t want to partner at all.  And if they chose the middle tiered package, you then have the opportunity to up sell them to the next level.  At one point in my life I used to manage at a Victoria’s Secret Beauty store, and it was standard practice that if a customer was interested in a medium sized bottle of perfume, that we would never, never simply ring it through.  Our standard response was: “Oh, I see that you found ____ in the 12 oz. bottle; you’ll love the fragrance… Now, did you see that you can have the 24 oz. bottle for just 10 more dollars?  It’s double the product for less than half of what you’re spending for the regular size.”  Nine times out of ten they grabbed the bigger bottle.  We highlighted their benefit, the cost, and the value for upgrading.  You want to do the same with sponsorship. 

Now, the tough part about having cascading packages is that it can make it tougher to customize by moving package assets around.  If you are open to customization (which we also strongly recommend), you need to establish this in your proposal.  Being flexible can make the difference between a sponsor riding the fence and a sponsor signing a contract.  We tell our site users often that the packages and benefits section is a rough start.  We realize (and so do most sponsors), that there is no way to complete a package listing without knowing what the sponsor is looking for as a benefit.  And there’s no way to know what they want until you meet with them and discuss these details – but you aren’t likely going to get a meeting until you communicate what you have to offer as a starting point. 

So take a look at your assets and consider how you might package them for various levels of sponsorship interest.  You don’t need 31 “flavors” of sponsorship, but a few is nice for choosy sponsors.



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