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Seven Corporate Sponsorship Strategies for the New Year

by | January 2, 2019

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Welcome back from, what I hope was, a restful and relaxing time with friends and family! If you’re anything like me, you spent the month of December saying things like “I will take care of that in the new year!” Putting off tasks to be handled by some future version of yourself in a distant land called “next year.”

And, if you are anything like me, you are cursing your past self for the mountainous “to do list” that you now have to deal with. With this in mind, I thought I would put together a list of the seven things you should do to kick off your corporate sponsorship efforts this year:

Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 1:

Reach out to Every Outstanding Sponsorship Request

The best time to submit a corporate sponsorship proposal is in October to December in my experience. Actually, the best time for a sponsorship request is whenever your sponsors tell you is the best time! But in the absence of this knowledge I aim for the Fall to ask permission to submit my proposals.

If you follow this pattern too, the first thing you should do this week is send a note out to all of your prospects asking them how their holidays were and if they have any feedback on your submission, or any questions that you can answer for them.

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Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 2:

Get Your Sponsorship Proposals out the Door

If you didn’t submit your proposals in the Fall, now is the time! That said, it is never appropriate to send out unsolicited proposals. You should always meet with your prospects and discuss your opportunity before you submit anything. Please don’t take this as permission to shotgun blast your corporate sponsorship request to prospects. Instead, reach out to your prospects and start a conversation.

Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 3:

The Advice Visit

This strategy flows nicely from the last. Pick five corporate sponsorship prospects right now and reach out to them and ask them for an advice visit. Tell them you want to ask their thoughts on a project you are working on and that you would love their advice on how to tailor it to their needs and determine whether or not there is a fit. When you go to this meeting, don’t bring anything with you! Just go and connect, ask for advice and then, here’s the secret, use their advice to create a sponsorship package just for them! No “gold, silver, bronze” allowed…unless your prospect specifically asks for it.

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Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 4:

Build your Inventory

They key to a custom corporate sponsorship proposal is having assets to sell…lots of assets! I then keep these assets in mind during my visits with prospects as it gives me something to draw from while they tell me what they are looking for. Having an inventory of assets, rather than a standardized sponsorship package, is the most valuable tool in your corporate sponsorship toolbox.

Inventory building exercise:

Gather select members from your committee, board, leadership team, communications staff and program staff (yes that’s right…your program staff!). Bring them all together and have a 30 minute brainstorming session, not about themes, ethics or speakers. Instead, ask them:

  • What can we sell?
  • What speaking opportunities are we missing?
  • What product placement opportunities are we missing?
  • What were the three coolest sponsorship or cause marketing things you saw in the last three months?

The answers will surprise you, I guarantee it!

Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 5:

Find More Prospects

You always need more prospects than you think you do. Way more! The way I prospect is by taking my inventory and asking one question: who cares about this? Not, who cares about your organization or your mission but who cares about these assets. Who would want to speak to this group of people? Who would want to borrow our logo to talk to their customers?

Think of five corporate sponsorship prospects for every single asset! Then, go look at your competition and see who they work with. Put it all into Excel and add two more columns beside each prospect. For every prospect you have, identify two of their competitors and add them to the list as well.

If you don’t have a significant list, one that you are worried you couldn’t possibly manage, then you need a bigger inventory of assets to drive the prospecting exercise!

Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 6:

Make a Sales Tracker and a Plan

In order to move through these prospects and get them to a sale, you send them all an unsolicited proposal right? Wrong! Instead, make a strategy to reach out to every one of them, meet with them, talk to them and have them tell you what they want to see in your sponsorship package.

Set up your sales tracker to focus on the following categories:

  • Prospect
  • Contact Made
  • Meeting Set
  • Working on Proposal
  • Proposal Submitted
  • Follow Up
  • Outcome

This is the absolute least that you should be measuring! Every week, make a plan to move 10, 20 or 30 prospects. Every single week, move those companies from prospect to contact made, from contact made to meeting set and so on. Focus on movement every single week and hold yourself to that goal and in no time at all, you will have more warm leads than you can manage!

Corporate Sponsorship Strategy 7:

Run a Networking Breakfast

The concept is simple. Ask a board member or committee member for the use of their office and ask them to host a small networking event with coffee and croissants, on them. Ask them if they will invite three of their contacts to come and network and hear about a cool cause they are involved with. Now go and ask two other board members, sponsors or committee members to attend each with three of their contacts.

At the event, have the host introduce you. In three minutes or less, tell the group who you are, what you do, your cool project and how they can help you. By the way, the only way they can help you is in one of two ways: to meet you for coffee to talk about said cool project in more detail or to hold another event just like the one you are at. Commit to holding your first event in January, you won’t be disappointed.

Now Give it a Try!

There you have it! Seven strategies to kick off you new year right and raise more corporate sponsorship dollars! This may seem like a lot of work but believe me, it’s worth the investment.

This post was originally published in Hilborn Charity eNEWS

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