5 Sponsorship Realities Every Sponsorship Property Needs to Know
I recently did a presentation for a group of fundraisers, community centre CEOs and sponsorship sales professionals in the sport and for-profit space focused on five sponsorship realities that every sponsorship property needs to know.
In today’s post, I am going to share the insights from that invite-only presentation. In no particular order, here are five sponsorship realities that people just aren’t talking about.
Sponsorship Truth #1: Sponsorship is Never a Donation
The fact is that sponsors are more interested in your audience than your cause. Your audience isn’t just those in your database but extends to those who care about what you do…and you many have never met these people!
Here’s how it works: Your cause attracts an audience and your audience attracts the sponsor. If you spend pages talking about your cause in your proposals rather than talking about your audience, you’re in trouble.
When I work with clients, we strive to develop two or three target audiences (or more) and use that to identify prospects.
Here’s an example of an audience: 40-year-old, high-net-worth moms, with 2-3 kids and a house in the suburbs. If you can’t describe your audience with this much clarity, you need to keep working!
Sponsorship Truth #2: Everything You Sell to Sponsors Has a Market Value
Notice, I didn’t say everything you sell has a value, I said it has a market value. That means everything you sell can be independently verified by a sponsor. If you promise them access to a particular audience, that sponsor knows (or can find out) exactly what similar opportunities cost elsewhere to get to the same audience.
Did you know that your sponsors can directly target your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook followers through paid ads without every giving you a penny? They can also advertise to your exact audience through alternative forms of media and never pay you to put their logo on your website.
This is why sponsorship valuations are so critical. If you are guessing at your sponsorship value, your sponsors can tell.
Sponsorship Truth #3: It’s NOT About Logo Placement
Logo placement is one very small aspect of sponsorship and it is the least valuable thing you can offer a sponsor. Listing your sponsors on a sign at registration with 30 other sponsors is worth a fraction of a penny per view…if you’re lucky! If you have 100,000 people passing that sign 20 times at your event then you may have some value but even then, unless the goal of your sponsor is brand awareness, logo placement is boring and of little value.
You know what’s worth a lot more? Sponsorship activation, product placement, speaking opportunities and, most important of all, the assets that your sponsors really want. Not sure what they are? Me neither! You have to ask your sponsors, and believe me, they can’t wait to tell you.
Sponsorship Truth #4 The Proposal Does Not Make the Sale
If you haven’t already, you have to read this sponsorship proposal case study. The fact is, your prospects receive literally thousands of unsolicited proposals every single month. What you write on page six of your sponsorship package is of no consequence. Why? Because your prospects are throwing your proposals in the garbage without reading them.
What are the chances that you will guess exactly what your prospects want and that they will have the time to read your proposal and send you cash? Well, over the course of my career and tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship sold…it’s happened a dozen times. Every other sponsorship sale happened in the same way. Research, discovery call, meeting, meeting, meeting, draft proposal, update proposal, success (or more edits).
Sponsorship is not direct mail, it is a people business.
Sponsorship Fact # 5 Gold, Silver, Bronze Packages Don’t Work
“But Chris, I used a Gold, Silver, Bronze (GSB) package and it DID work!” My response is always the same: Maybe you sold the sponsorship despite your GSB package, not because of it. What about the 97% of your sponsors who threw your GSB package in the garbage, who you never heard from? It sure didn’t work on them!
Unless you are sporting a 30-60% close rate, increasing your sponsorship dollars every year and retaining 60% of last year’s sponsors then it isn’t working. The truth is, if you define “working” with low enough standards, anything works!
Your sponsors don’t care about the word “silver” appearing above their name or logo on a sign in a hall that nobody sees, or listed on a website or annual report that is worth a half penny per view (or less). There is nothing magical about organizing your sponsors in a tiered list if you aren’t giving them exactly what they want, charging them market rates for those assets and developing sponsorship activation opportunities that help them achieve their goals.
Chris Baylis is an expert in sponsorship valuation and sponsorship strategy. Chris works with brands and sponsorship properties to define their sponsorship goals, determine market value of their sponsorship assets and create strategies that work.
Chris is the Managing Director of The Sponsorship Collective, a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and international speaker and consultant on all things sponsorship marketing.