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Profile of the Well Intentioned but Poorly Prepared

by Emily Taylor
20 04 2011

This week is really about “what not to do” when seeking sponsorship, which I realize can be a little negative, but take heart; in a couple of weeks there will be a profile on some best practice professionals!  Keep in mind – if you have any great examples that you think would positively impact the sponsorship world, please submit them to me at: [email protected] and I’ll consider including it in our next blog in this series.  The example should be of a specific case study – an example of an individual engaging in sponsorship sales who does a dynamite job.  But back to the present…

I recently received a sponsor request from a very well intentioned individual from South Africa. So here’s the profile.  The gentleman is from out of the country, and sent us a letter on our “info” account because he’s interested in sponsorship, but wasn’t sure who to reach.  The sender name only showed a long string of numbers instead of anything personal, which honestly I would typically pitch without opening.  The email stated: “Good day.  Please find attached word document regarding sponsor request for your perusal.  Thank you.” Once you opened the document you could read on. There was an invitation to respond upon interest, and a picture of the gentleman to put the cherry on top and personalize it a bit. 

  •  Here are just a few observations:
    The gentleman is planning to participate in a bike race, and is seeking sponsorship support from SponsorPark or any of the sponsors we work with – I’m assuming, it wasn’t clear. I wasn’t sure if he was actually asking for our support in actually sponsoring him, or in getting his information in front of the sponsors we have access to. If he wanted us to sponsor him, the issue is that either he really didn’t do his homework, or he didn’t think it through. We are based in the U.S. and currently offer services just within the U.S.  Why would we sponsor an event/effort for an individual in South Africa?  Even if he had access to getting us eyeballs with millions, it’s not currently our target audience, it would be a terrible partnership for us as there is no clear benefit.  A sponsor will not offer funding to a partner when the benefits you have to offer them are not relevant to their needs.
  • He sent us an inquiry because he came to our website and realized that since we only offer service within the U.S. and he was unable to post a listing on the site, he would send it to me directly… just in case.  Really?  If you’re unable to post on our site, what makes you think we’ll offer our services to you on the side… and without pay?  Remember, the audience we’re accessing probably isn’t a good fit for you anyway, or else you’d be able to post.  If something doesn’t appear to be a good fit, don’t force it.  It’s like trying to put on a shoe 2 sizes too small.  It’s not going to last long if you even get it on, and it will likely cause some serious pain.
  • Within the first 2 paragraphs he said “I” or “me” about 12 times; never once in the 2 page document was there any mention of our brand or our marketing priorities, aside from the logo he placed at the top of the document.  First of all, if he were sending us a custom sponsorship request, 2 pages probably isn’t enough to draw us in and communicate value – but that’s beside the point.  We blog about this issue often – do NOT approach a potential partner with the mistaken assumption they want to hear all about you.  Obviously there’s proper introductions to be made, but you should never talk more about yourself than your sponsor. Ever. 
  • The email itself was a brief hello and a one liner about the attached sponsorship document – it wasn’t until I opened the document that I was able to understand who this was and why he was reaching out to me. Sponsors won’t likely take the time to open an email so informal and without a clear purpose.
  • The description of his sponsorship opportunity was in “specialty” verbiage, specific to the activity/event.  As I am unfamiliar with this type of activity, it was hard for me to follow, the language didn’t reflect an understanding of the reader.
  • The attachment did include our company name, though it was misspelled.  SponsorPark, is branded as being all one word, not two.  An easy mistake, but simply indicates a lack of research into our company.  If a sponsor were to receive a request with their company misspelled, they wouldn’t likely open the document either.  It’s kind of like saying you’re great friends with someone and then mispronouncing their name. It doesn’t indicate value or interest in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Now, his overall demeanor was respectful and polite.  He seemed to attempt to make things personalized, but his lack of research into our company revealed his intentions to be selfish vs. a true partnership. His picture was great and I’m sure he’s a great guy who really needs some financial support; unfortunately his attempt at being a nice guy earned him nothing, and honestly really wasn’t worth the time he took to put this together.  Perfect example of an individual working harder but not smarter. 

Categories:   Introductions | sponsorship sales | tips
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9/22/2011 6:37:26 PM #

The post is quite interesting Emily.  

I receive many sponsorship requests weekly, and I  tend to agree there are companies, individuals and even event planners who are unable to communicate either verbally or in correspondences what they're seeking when they solicit financial or resource support.   But i respectfully read in your post some harsh criticism towards this person.  Mainly at the end of the post when you mention his true intentions to be selfish vs a true partnership.   is this reality or interpretation?

It has been my experience most people will not research and conduct a reasonable DD on the company or sponsor their are going to present their package to.  Many just cast a line into the waters hoping someone will take the bate.  I do agree with you on most of your comments and truly understand the frustrations.   Yet, had we put aside some of the packages that were poorly presented , we would have missed some very good sponsorship opportunities where we have gained awesome branding awareness.  

I guess i have learned to go beyond the "I" , "me" and other verbiage and do my own DD of the event and person.  In five to ten minutes a lot of information can be obtained on the web these days.  

These are just my opinions of course.    Thank you for posting this topic ..  


9/27/2011 11:26:10 AM #

I appreciate your perspective as a sponsorship decision maker!  My observations, I must clarify, are not 100% true for every sponsorship solicitation.  They are generalizations, but true enough that they should be guarded against.  When a property solicits for a partner without having any idea how it might be a good fit, not all sponsors are kind enough to do their own homework as it sounds like you do.  If a property rep takes no time to identify mutually beneficial activation strategies, it does tend to communicate a bit of one-sidedness - typically.  There are definate exceptions to that rule.  
Thanks again for your insights!  We love hearing from sponsors.  I'd love to know how we can support you on SponsorPark as well!

emily taylor

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