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Audience Data in Sponsorship Sales 

There’s one mistake I see sponsorship seekers make that can kill their sponsorship programs dead. 

They don’t have any audience data.

Zero. Zilch. Nothing. 

Not a chart, not even basic segments. 

In today’s post, I want to explain why that’s such a fatal flaw in your sponsorship program as well as provide some tips and pointers for discovering your audience in a manner that’s marketable to your sponsorship prospects. 

Let’s get right to it. 

Why Is Audience Data Important in Sponsorship Sales?

Sponsorship is about audience data and access to the audience.

To explain the importance of audience data, let me use an example.

You go to a store and a salesperson rushes up to you and asks you to buy something for $5,000. The catch? They don’t tell you what you’re getting. 

It could fit you or it could not, but you won’t know. You’re just supposed to shell out the $5,000 and hope that what you’re getting is okay.

Would you do something like that? Of course not! When I put it to you that way, it sounds like an insane proposition, right?

Yet when you go to your sponsorship prospects and try to get them to agree to a deal and you don’t have audience data on your side, you’re  asking of them what that fictional salesperson asked of you.

The prospect has no idea who your audience is. Therefore, they have no way of telling how your audience fits into the prospect’s target audience.

What if the prospect gives you $5,000 only to find out that your audience is mostly women, and their flagship product is a men’s deodorant? That’s a huge mismatch.

Now you got your money, but the sponsor is not going to get any of the outcomes you said you would deliver for them. Their marketing falls on deaf ears, and their sales won’t go up either. They also won’t convert customers.

Here’s another way to look at it. Maybe you do sell your sponsorship opportunity for $5,000, but what if you short-changed yourself? 

Imagine going to a pawn shop and selling a real diamond for the price of cubic zirconia because you didn’t bother to get your ring appraised before selling it.

Your audience could be worth a lot in the eyes of a sponsor. They could be willing to pay you $10,000, even $15,000 for access to your audience, but you’re only charging them $5,000.

When you go to a yard sale or a flea market and see a very valuable item on sale for far less than it’s worth, you don’t tell the seller, “hey, you’re selling this for very cheap,” right? No. You quietly buy it knowing what it’s worth.

Your sponsor is the same way. They’ll gladly pay $5,000 knowing your audience data is worth at least twice that because that’s more money in their pocket. 

Putting the sponsor’s needs aside for a moment, skipping out on audience research means failing your customers as well. You’re supposed to know their needs, interests, and pain points, and then use that data to craft targeted solutions.

If your mostly female audience attends an event sponsored by a male deodorant brand, you’re going to lose credibility. Your audience will trust you less. Some might even jump ship.

You must know who your audience is, as it benefits your customers even when you’re not seeking sponsorship.

But What About the General Public? Isn’t That Good Enough?

When I tell some sponsorship seekers they need audience data, they hit me with a response that I’ve heard a lot over the years. “Isn’t appealing to the general public better?”

To that, I say no, it isn’t. 

Your sponsorship opportunity shouldn’t cater to the general public. If it does, you’re in trouble. 

The general public is an undefined number of people. Technically, it’s everyone. Maybe it’s everyone in Canada, or everyone in the United States. Perhaps it’s everyone in North America. 

You’re talking 570 million people in North America alone.

I know for some sponsorship seekers, that’s 570 million prospective sales, right? Nope.

Just like women generally aren’t interested in men’s deodorant, the general public is not all going to be interested in your products. Most of them won’t be. 

How do you find the ones that are? You know what I’m going to tell you. You have to do your audience research. 

It’s also not enough to say “families” are interested in your products or “the middle class.” That’s too vague.

What is a family by your definition? A nuclear family with two parents and two kids? Is it a family of six with four kids? 

You can ask the same of the middle class. What constitutes the middle class? How much money do these people make?

These are the kinds of questions you’d ask when doing audience research anyway, so it’s better to just get on with it. 

What Kind of Audience Data Does Your Sponsor Want?

Audience Data in Sponsorship Sales 1-01

I hope by now that if you haven’t gathered audience data that I’ve inspired you to. Precisely what kind of information is your target sponsor looking for? Here are the criteria you should use to segment your audience.

Demographics

Prospective sponsors still want the basic info on your audience. Where do they live? How old are they? What is their gender? Are they married or single? Do they have children? If so, how many? 

Buying Behavior 

Now here’s what your sponsor really cares about. After dividing your audience by the above segments, split them up by their purchasing behavior.

For example, you can segment your audience by upcoming purchases, date last purchased, number of purchases per year, or amount spent on purchases throughout the year. 

Identifying frequent buyers who spend a lot of money is going to be very appealing to your prospects, especially if your prospective sponsor is in a niche or industry your audience is interested in.  

Preferred Brands

That brings me to my next point. Which brands does your audience prefer? I don’t just mean in your niche or industry, but across all industries. It’s especially valuable if you know their preferred brands in the same industry your sponsor works in. 

Industries and Job Titles

What industry do your audience members work in? What are some sample job titles? This information can inform the spending capacity and buying behavior of your average customer. 

Decision-Making Capacity

Lastly, you want to split your audience according to their capacity to make decisions. 

I should note that these are just some examples of many. Ultimately, I recommend having at least 25 data points for your audience that you can present to target sponsors. 

That will require you to niche down your audience data as much as you reasonably can. 

Pulling It All Together with the Audience Survey

As you’ve been reading along, I’m sure you’ve been wondering, “yeah, but Chris, how in the world do I find this elusive audience data?”

Well, it’s not out there to find, not really. You can review past attendance and sales data to glean some of what you need, but I much more recommend issuing an audience survey.

An audience survey is a short questionnaire that touches on all the points above. You’d ask questions like where the audience member lives, where they work, what their household income is, which brands they like, and their usage and attendance with your brand.

In this post, I have a handy list of pointers of all the areas you need to touch on when making your audience survey.

I’ve talked about the audience survey extensively on this blog since audience data is among the most important parts of your sponsorship program if not the most important. 

I recommend you read this post full of tips and best practices for making your audience survey. Then, you should move on to this article, as it will help you make sense of the data you’ve gathered.

Let me briefly break it down for you. 

You want to create a short, snappy survey and then (e)mail it to your audience members. Give them a few weeks to reply, send out periodic reminders, and make sure they’re getting some sort of reward out of completing the survey. Even a drawing into a contest or giveaway suffices. 

Then, when you have your data, divide each audience segment into hyper-specific niches. 

It’s not enough to say one segment of your audience is accounting specialists in New York. What kind of accounting specialists? Where in New York? What age? What gender? How much income per year?

For any audience segment you have, I promise you can niche it down further, especially if you’ve not done so yet. You will eventually reach a point though where you can’t niche down anymore, and that’s when you know you’re finished with that segment. 

Making Buyer Personas 

By the time you’re done niching down your audience, you’re going to have a huge group of different segments in front of you. It can be a little overwhelming. 

To help you remember that the people who comprise each niched-down audience segment are indeed people and not numbers or data, I like to create buyer personas or audience personas.

This is a common marketing and sales trick. You take one audience segment and then ascribe a name and personality traits to that segment.

Using the example from before of accountants in New York, one of your buyer personas might be Financial Frank. 

Financial Frank is a tax specialist in Brooklyn who makes $75,000 a year. He has two kids. He’s very busy but is a family man despite that. 

Frank’s biggest problems are a lack of time and energy. He likes technology brands especially. 

Once you put together a buyer persona like Financial Frank, it becomes a lot easier to match a prospective sponsor to someone like him. If Frank likes tech brands, then that’s where you’d start.

Now, let me be clear. Financial Frank is not a real member of your audience. Rather, he’s an amalgamation of an audience segment. 

Thus, when you’re selling to Financial Frank, you’re selling to a small but hyper-segmented audience group. 

For as many audience segments as you’ve identified, make buyer personas for each. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to slot in solutions and come up with activations that will appeal to your audience once they’re divided into customer avatars. 

Conclusion 

Audience data in sponsorship sales is critical, and I cannot overstate that enough. 

Without niched-down information on your audience, your sponsorship program will stall to a stop. It’s not enough to say that your audience is families, or–even worse–the general public.

Take the time to get to know your audience. It will benefit you not only in your quest for more sponsorship sales, but in everyday business with your customers. You can create more targeted marketing campaigns that will resonate with your audience once you know who they are.

The increased sponsorship sales are just the icing on the cake.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.

After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.

Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.

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