Sponsorship collective logo

If Gold, Silver, Bronze Is So Bad, Why Do They Use It?

Sometimes I feel like I live in two worlds. In world one, I work with brands (i.e. sponsors) who hate (and I mean HATE) gold, silver, bronze sponsorship packages. They throw out thousands of these packages every month, ignoring them completely. In world two, I work with sponsorship seekers who love the gold, silver, bronze sponsorship package. All of their sponsorship strategies focus on making a sponsorship package that they can send to prospects in hopes that the right mix of assets, at the right price, will grab their prospects and make the sale.

I don’t know how these two worlds can exist within the same sponsorship space, but they do. Something I hear often from sponsorship seekers is something like “If the gold, silver, bronze sponsorship package is so bad, why do THEY use it?”

“They” in this case is usually some wildly successful sponsorship property with plenty of money and brand recognition. If “they” are using it then surely it is the best practice to have such a document…right?

Not so fast! As I like to do, let me address this with a story.

Sponsorship Sales in 2008

The year was 2008 and the economy just crashed…and I had a $3 million sponsorship portfolio. Great. The first thing I did once things started to settle was book a meeting with everyone in my portfolio and my key prospects. I wanted to stay front of mind and talk to them about what my organization could do to help them through this tough time.

My first visit was to a long-time partner of ours – a sure thing in my view. We had long ditched the gold, silver, bronze approach and customized everything and this sponsor loved it so I felt pretty safe. As soon as I walked up to the building, I  knew I was in trouble.

Security was escorting people to the front doors, box of office stuff and plants in hand. Not good…people were being packaged and laid off on the spot and I was going in to ask for money? My stomach sank.

The Gold Sponsor that Never Was

I sat down with my contact who told me right away that they were ending their partnership with us immediately. They were letting staff go and changing how they did business. They considered us a luxury and not part of their core business needs.

“The other thing” my contact told me, “is that we need to hold $250K to be Gold Sponsors at the coming hospital gala.”

Wait…what!? I asked why, and my contact went on:

“Well it’s simple, we want them to buy our x-ray machines and part of the deal is that we have to be at the 250K level at their gala.”

Sponsorship in Spite of the Sponsorship Package

In this scenario, do you think the sponsor is interested in the gold sponsorship package and any of its benefits? Definitely not…at least none of the advertised benefits. This was all about business development and sales.

This hospital was succeeding, not because of its gold, silver, bronze packages but in spite of them.

Just because you see a sponsorship seeker that you respect using a gold, silver, bronze package doesn’t mean that you should too. They may never even use the gold, silver, bronze package in their negotiations! Not only that, but they may have assets for sale that you aren’t aware of and so when you see the new gold sponsor at the gala, paying 250K for logo placement, you erroneously assume that this is how sponsorship is done.

If you have the ability to purchase millions of dollars in equipment then you can get away with forcing sponsors into a gold, silver, bronze package. But even then, imagine how that sponsor would have felt if their sponsorship was tied to their sales goals. If the sponsorship property was offering real marketing value in addition to their business, I bet they could have sold them more than just 250K in sponsorship deals.

The take home message here is not to compare yourself to other properties and emulate them based on what the public sees. The trick to good sponsorship sales is to build your inventory, do a proper valuation and work with your prospects to sell them exactly what they want at fair market value.

New call-to-action


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.

Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn