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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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Sponsorship Connection Tip #8 - Give Yourself Plenty of Time, part B

by Emily Taylor
2 02 2010

Give yourself plenty of Time –part A: Sponsorship can take 4-6 months to connect with the most appropriate person, negotiate a partnership, and sign a contract. The larger the sponsorship deal the longer it can take to close. Part B: This is also why it’s a good idea to pursue more than one sponsor at a time. Work smarter not harder!

 I talked to a gentleman today who mentioned he has been in sponsorship sales for about 6 years.  He said up until about 10 months ago, he has never had any trouble selling his sponsorship opportunities to interested sponsors, and that he has never seen it as hard as it is today to connect and sign with a sponsor.  I don’t think that’s a unique story; which makes part B of our tip today even more important.

We learn a lot of lessons over the years; one lesson many individuals learn with experience is to set up clear accountability and a clear set of instructions in order to see a project implemented (or a partnership activated) devoid of flaws – a good lesson, and not an uncommon one either.  Another lesson I’ve come to determine is invaluable is: always have a plan B.  Let’s face it, sometimes when planning out a partnership; it can be easy to put all of our eggs in one basket – especially if things appear to be lining up or this sponsor has had a long time commitment.  You can know in your own mind why the timing is perfect and it’s just a matter of presenting your thoughts to a sponsor that they will be just as excited about jumping on board.  We have a client using SponsorPark who has a MAJOR annual event, one that’s really known to go hand in hand with their Presenting sponsor – if it were presented by any other sponsor I think people would wonder if it were the same event!  But after chatting with my contact he said, “ya know, I sweat it out every year just hoping that small percent chance that they decide not to resign with us isn’t going to be this year.”  Wow.  So far that hasn’t happened to them; but every once in a while that sponsor just don’t see the opportunity the way you do.  At best you receive a “thanks but no thanks, this isn’t a good fit for us at this time,” in the mail, and you wonder where the heck you went wrong. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy persistence – it’s possible you can clear up a misunderstanding or give just enough push to send them over the edge and into a full partnership, but keep yourself from having an anxiety attack and pursue multiple options at once.  There’s no reason to be sneaky or conniving about it, upfront honesty without being manipulative and arrogant is a good thing.  You ought to strive for a way to communicate a sense of urgency by letting them know they aren’t the only one being pitched, but still imply that you believe them to be a great fit – possibly your preference. This way, if a sponsor comes back at the end of the connection process (and I say process, because even connection doesn’t happen overnight) one of your potential sponsors decides not to move forward; you can have another sponsor (or two) who you’ve already started the process with as well.  Your chances go up to get a sponsor in line in time for some effective activation.  The worst that can happen is that you put all your eggs in one basket, and at the last minute they back out – leaving you no time to start the process over again AND give a new sponsor time to implement effective activation of a partnership.  You then resort to lowering the price (and value) of the partnership. 

Now for the best case scenario – multiple sponsors are interested; now you have the ability to get competitive due to increased interest in the opportunity which makes it more valuable – play that card carefully.  Honest, but upfront about the competitive and valuable partnership you have to offer.  Sponsorship sales representative’s mouths water to be in this boat!

So, get wise about connecting with sponsors – have a plan B, and pursue multiple sponsors at one time; this gives you plenty of time to work with.  It maximizes your time, and we all know that these days optimizing your time investments are extremely important.


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