Sponsorships can be an invaluable business growth strategy, and to fully leverage them to create serious business impact, you need a game plan. This post, part 2 in a series on sponsorship, gives you a game plan of seven proven strategies and tactics to assure your sponsorships produce meaningful results for your organization. Part 1 in this series covers sponsorship goals and common problems.
Global sponsorship continues to be strong. IEG reports that global sponsorship spending was projected to rise 4.5 percent in 2017 to $62.8 billion from the $60.1 billion spent in 2016. That growth rate is nearly equal to last year’s 4.6 percent, which was slightly below the forecast of 4.7 percent.
To refresh your memory from post 1, sponsorships are used for business and organizations’ objectives like:
- Enhancing or adding dimension to your image
- Shaping or revamping consumer attitudes
- Driving sales and traffic
- Generating greater positive exposure and mentions
- Differentiating from competition
- Improving community relations
- Building and rebuilding leadership stature
- Broadening customer rapport
- Meeting customers live
- Creating proprietary and sustainable content
Once you have goals and sponsorship ideas identified and clarified, I recommend these seven sponsorship strategies and tactics to produce business results:
1. Present a different and valued sponsorship proposition — sponsorships succeed when they are bought or sold like a product or service. The most effective way to show sponsorship value is through a concise and compelling offer. This typically is called a value proposition (VP). In this proposition, you will benefit from specifying your event’s special mission or cause, specific value assets to offer sponsors, your events or program’s clear difference, definition of your target audience and the clear and genuine impact from your sponsorship relationship. Make this a succinct and relevant as possible. Here’s a smart sample value proposition:
“The Gilda’s Club Family Race is the only local family team run with men’s, women’s and kids’ and even family team competition levels (valued special offer) and it benefits local Gilda’s Club members and programs for cancer wellness (beneficiary, cause and mission) of all ages. This yearly event draws 500 attendees with an average yearly household income of $160,000 (target), and we offer personalized sponsorship options (more value) that will give you 12-month sustaining exposure to and engagement with these prosperous and charitable people (benefit).”
2. Match your brand image with the sponsor — think about how you evaluate a company or brand before you buy. First and last impressions matter. Sponsors evaluate your organization in much the same way. The website, downloadable brochure or printed presentation make the first impressions. This is how a sponsor can check out the legitimacy and appeal of an organization. A stale website with broken links, bad navigation and irrelevant and purposeful content make a poor impression. Out-of-date logos and designs on promotional marketing materials are liabilities too. Sponsorships are partnerships, and the brand image must reflect a professional, sophisticated and aligned image or a company or brand will quickly, and without any concern, pass on your sponsorship.
3. Determine your promotional assets that attract sponsors — here are some of the specific assets that you can offer sponsors as part of their partnership:
- Website marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing/mentions
- Speaking opportunities and/or special audience access
- On-stage announcements
- Logo placements (on signage, mailings, programs, website, registration materials, etc.)
- Collateral sponsorship opportunities (e.g. printing, special meet and greets, VIP stages, food, beverage, printing, AV, entertainment, event program exposure, etc.
- Free or VIP passes
- ETC (get brainstorming)
Some events offer sponsorship levels or packages. This approach can be effective in focusing sponsorship around premier packages (e.g. title, co-sponsor, cornerstone, gold, silver or bronze, etc.). It also can be beneficial to personalize sponsorships to each prospect and adapt packages to meet a sponsors’ needs and goals. Sponsorship levels or categories can help you focus, but they might restrict or compromise an investment by not addressing a sponsor’s personal marketing or sales situation and challenges.
4. Begin sponsorship recruitment with friends and then go to strategic allies and prospect targets that align with your organization’s value proposition — the most probable sponsors are your business friends, colleagues and allies. They know and trust you and your ability to perform. Talk to them initially and then ask for referrals if they aren’t interested. Be mindful that not everyone matches your proposition, audiences and offers. Start by finding types of prospects in specific industries, verticals or demographics that will be attracted to your offers. During research, get a sense of their sponsorship preferences by discovering what they have sponsored in the past. Be sure to research and be comfortable contacting sponsors through social media.
5. Be personal, brief and focused in your first approach – you will benefit by being familiar with your prospects’ niche, mission and probable needs and goals through sponsorships. Use this intelligence when crafting a personalized introduction in person or via email or even social media. Maybe an organization does not have something specific in mind, so it is best if you suggest a few ways to become a sponsor and be clear that you are open to suggestions. Don’t make them guess at what do with your opportunity. Lead them to the water.
6. Show prospects relevant and valuable data that can be produced through a sponsorship — as you meet with a prospect, you will benefit from asking questions about what their interests and needs might be with event sponsorships, their sales and marketing goals and needs. and if they value a partnership with their sponsorship organization event team. In other words, a sponsor trusts your organization and staff’s expertise and advice. With those details, you can offer details and data that could address their concerns. Concentrate on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that resonate with the prospect as precisely as possible. Obviously, the more data you have on your audience, the better when convincing sponsors of their value. Post-sponsorship, use online questionnaires for participants to offer their evaluation of a sponsor (being selective about the amount of questions and 7-10 is the maximum; you know that few people will spend more than 5 minutes answering questions). And celebrate the participants’ commendations and listen actively to the participants’ concerns and recommendations.
7. Provide specific ROI data following a sponsorship after the event – we all know there are dozens of ways to measure return-on-investment (ROI) for every event – participants, influencer engagement, attendance or outreach, social media mentions, publicity, participant data collected (fulfillment, advance and post awareness, etc.), unique website visitors, revenues, donations, leads and sales. A good idea is to choose three primary metrics for your general sponsor ROI and three more metrics to measure sponsorship ROI. You can use lead generation, number of participants matching your target and number of participant fulfillment general metrics. Specific measures and can be requests for information or greater engagement website hits, social media posts and publicity.
Be mindful that the success formula for attracting and building sponsorship is to recognize, appreciate and honor brand and company needs and adjust your sponsorship opportunity to match them. The secret to retaining sponsors is to deliver on your promises and cultivate an ongoing partnership that lasts beyond an event or program.
I hope this game plan will be valuable while identifying and manage sponsorships to grow your business.
What strategies and tools are you using to produce successful sponsorships?
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