Build a Sponsorship Cookbook
There’s a quote I recently heard, and while I don’t exactly know who said it, its stuck with me ever since. Here it goes: “Amateurs have a recipe; masters have a cookbook.”
So why does it matter if you come across as an amateur or a master? Sponsors don’t like to work with amateurs. They want to partner with someone who has experience, who knows their value and what they want.
In other words, sponsors want to work with professionals.
If you only have a recipe and not the whole cookbook, you’re in the shoes of a lot of sponsorship seekers I’ve worked with. This guide will help you refine your professionalism so you can be the kind of partner sponsors naturally gravitate toward!
How to Build a Sponsorship Cookbook
If you were going to sit down and write a cookbook–a real cookbook, not the metaphorical one I’ve spoke of this entire time–you wouldn’t do it overnight. It takes time to curate the recipes you want, determine the layout, write the content, take photos, and edit.
Likewise, building a sponsorship cookbook isn’t an overnight process either. You’ll have to go through and alter the way you’ve pursued sponsorship to this point, but I promise that it’ll be worth it.
Without further ado, here are the steps to build your own sponsorship cookbook.
When you reach out to four dozen sponsors, the entire process gets repetitive after a while. You can easily grow frustrated if you contact that many people and only two get back to you…if that.
To save your precious time, it becomes tempting to just copy and paste the same sponsorship proposal or email template you use for everyone else.
As hard as it is, don’t give in to that temptation. Each prospect and sponsor you interact with deserves individualized treatment, complete with custom everything.
You should select unique assets tailored to them, craft up exclusive activations, and–if you have to–produce a custom sponsorship proposal.
That means the proposal doesn’t include pricing tiers like gold, silver, or bronze.
You’ll focus on different segments of your audience based on what you know about your prospects, and even the communication method you choose to reach out might vary by potential sponsor.
This sort of thing isn’t fast, but then again, neither is writing a cookbook.
Here’s some incentive for you. When you don’t customize, you’re leaving money on the table.
How so? You’re not producing the kinds of assets and activations your sponsor really wants when you forego customization. You’re not presenting the kind of detailed audience data they’re interested in either.
All in all, you’re issuing a lower-value sponsorship offer than if you had just taken a few more days (or even weeks) to put together something customized.
Don’t think of sponsorship as a race to the finish line. If you’re in a situation where you have a tight deadline looming and needed a sponsor three weeks ago, that’s one thing. Make sure you begin planning early in the future to avoid that kind of extra pressure next time.
It’s better to take your time and put in the necessary work. You’re not trying to do something in as little time as possible. That’s not what sponsorship is about.
Know Your Audience
The next part of your sponsorship cookbook is your audience.
I’ve had sponsorship seekers who assume they know their audience because they have basic demographics and geographics and can tell me that 60 percent of their audience is female and 40 percent is male.
That’s great, but it’s not really telling me much of anything.
Do you know what sponsors want? Specifics.
Of the 60 percent of your female audience, how many are 18 to 25? How many are 40 to 50? Where do they live? How much money do they make? What industry do they work in?
You also need psychographics, which are your audience’s motivations, opinions, and beliefs. Through psychographics, you can learn about what kinds of brands your audience prefers and consumes and add them to your prospects list.
You get this kind of rich customer information by issuing surveys to your audience. Once you get those survey responses, you shouldn’t have a hard time collecting upwards of 25 data points on your macro audience.
Next, I recommend identifying at least three micro-audience groups or niches. If you have more, great, but you at least need three.
When you don’t bother learning about your audience, your potential sponsors know it. That’s why they’re not engaging with you.
Build Amazing Experiences
Once you have your audience data, it’s time for the discovery session. This is an opportunity to meet with the sponsor and pick their brains.
You should ask questions focusing on what’s not working for the sponsor’s business, what they’ve tried, and what they plan to try.
That’s the last missing piece you need to come up with incredible activations, which are experiential marketing opportunities that connect your sponsor and audience.
More so than just drawing the two parties together, your activations should achieve a goal or a need of your audience and sponsor.
That doesn’t mean your activation needs to be flashy, or expensive. If it does the above, it will make an impact at your event!
Know Your Value
Over the years, I’ve seen it all when it comes to sponsorship seekers knowing their value. I’ve seen some sponsorship seekers who have copied other sources and assumed their value was the same. I’ve seen others who just made it up out of thin air.
Imagine if your boss asked you to produce a business report and you just made up the numbers. That’s going to cost your business big-time, right?
And that’s what so often happens when sponsorship seekers do the same.
They end up costing themselves. Sponsors don’t want to work with them, or the ones who are interested will inquire further about where their prices or values came from, and the sponsorship seeker will be unable to answer.
The only way to confidently tell a sponsor what each individual asset is worth–and thus create your sponsorship cookbook–is by valuing your assets.
Valuing means researching market values and using those prices as your litmus test. Notice how I didn’t say copy market value because that’s not what you’re supposed to do.
Without valuing your assets, you won’t be able to produce custom sponsorship opportunities. You’ll default to the grids and use gold, silver, and bronze pricing, which will get you nowhere.
Mix and Match
With your value ascertained, now comes the fun part. You can go back to your assets and activations and mix and match the ones that you think would best fulfill the needs of your sponsor.
Your sponsorship cookbook is complete, and you can keep tabbing through its pages for a long time to come while continually keeping things fresh and interesting for your new sponsors.
The Hybrid Proposal – What You Need to Know
Here at the Sponsorship Collective, I’m a big proponent of the hybrid sponsorship proposal.
What in the world is a hybrid proposal, you ask? Under the hybrid model some parts of your proposal are standardized, so they don’t change from one proposal to another.
For instance, your audience data might not change much from month to month, so you can use the same data in each proposal. You will likely spotlight different segments per sponsor, but the audience data as a whole remains the same.
Since it’s a hybrid proposal, you’ll customize other elements, especially after the discovery session. You’ll look at your bank of activations and assets and fine-tune them to fit a sponsor’s current challenges.
The hybrid model prevents you from building a proposal from scratch every single time, winning you back hours. However, you’re also not recycling the same stock packages in your proposal. Ultimately, I most recommend making a proposal with your sponsors.
The last thing you should ever do if you want to build a cookbook and not just a recipe is send a potential sponsor your proposal without ever having met or spoken to them.
You can’t possibly customize a sponsorship proposal to the sponsor’s needs without knowing what those needs are. You need to have the discovery session first before it’s even worth working on your proposal.
Remember, amateurs have recipes, while masters have cookbooks. There is a difference, and it’s huge.
A recipe is standardized. You can play it up a little bit, but you’re stuck within the parameters of that recipe.
If you have a whole cookbook, you can select the specific recipe or recipes that fit any need or occasion.
That’s why having a sponsorship cookbook at the ready is so integral. You can offer your prospects customized solutions that will help with their unique challenges.
That’s what motivates a sponsor to want to work together; that and the chance to broaden their audience. You’ll have rich audience data that a sponsor can look at and compare against their target audience.
Building a sponsorship cookbook isn’t an overnight process, and it’s not quick either, but it is necessary if you want to begin acquiring sponsors for any event, program, or opportunity. Good luck!
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.