Your sponsorship programs, if you can even call them that, all seem to end the same way.
You engage with a prospect and get them interested enough to the point where you think they want a proposal. Yet when you send said proposal, you never hear back.
You don’t know if your prospect bothered to read your hours and hours’ worth of hard work or if they simply threw it in the trash, but either way, you’re a little offended.
I can understand how at this point, you’re feeling at the end of your rope. You don’t know what it takes to get a prospect to read your proposal!
Well, I do, and in today’s guide, that’s exactly what I’ll tell you.
What Is the Purpose of the Sponsorship Package?
One of the biggest issues that I see sponsorship seekers run into all the time is misusing the sponsorship package. They send it too early, and usually unsolicited at that.
If not that, then some sponsorship seekers take a sponsor at their word when they say something like, “just send me the proposal!”
That’s why I thought it’d be helpful if I talk about what purpose a sponsorship package is supposed to fulfill.
Well, actually, it’s several purposes, so let’s go over them now.
Outline Your Audience
Who is your audience?
This is a question I ask a lot on the blog, but that’s only because it’s so very much worth asking.
I cannot stress enough that if you don’t know who your audience is through well-researched audience data and niched down segments that are hyper-specific, then it doesn’t matter what’s in your proposal.
Your sponsorship program will not go anywhere.
You want to take some of the pages of your proposal and use them to highlight your audience.
Showcase the most relevant audience segments based on what you know about the sponsor’s target audience.
That information should come through a combination of research and the discovery session.
And if you haven’t yet had a discovery session with your prospect, then you have no reason to send a proposal yet.
Make sure that your audience data looks appealing. Add charts, graphs, and tables so the information is easily digested.
Define Your Opportunity
What kind of opportunity are you putting on the table to convince your prospect to work with you?
I always recommend that sponsorship seekers take far less of a me-first mentality and put the sponsor first instead. Thus, you don’t get as many opportunities to talk about your cause or event as you would think.
Take this one. While I don’t recommend utilizing a lot of space talking about your opportunity (more on this to come), make sure that the copy is crisp and clear.
Drive Prospects to You
So many sponsorship seekers allow the proposal to do all the talking and selling for them. This is absolutely the wrong approach to take.
Instead, think of the sponsorship proposal as a vehicle.
It drives more prospects to you so that you can sell to them live and in person or on the phone (when the time is right, of course).
Outline Discussions with Your Prospect
The last purpose of your sponsorship proposal is this.
The proposal is a great chance to put into writing discussions and points that have been made with you and the prospect since the discovery session.
This helps both parties be clear on what’s been talked about to this point.
Here’s What a Sponsorship Proposal Does NOT Do
A sponsorship proposal, while it contains a lot of highly valuable information therein, is just a document at the end of the day.
It cannot do everything, and so you can’t use it as a crutch in your sponsorship program.
The following are things the proposal cannot do.
Make the Sale
As I always, always say, the sponsorship proposal does not make the sale. You do.
Why do I say that ad infinitum? Well, because I feel that enough sponsorship seekers don’t follow my advice.
They assume that if they take several hours to put together a semi-comprehensive sponsorship package and send it out, that no matter what stage of the sponsorship program they’re in, they’ll hear back from the prospect.
The prospect will be interested, they’ll send lots of money, and everyone will live happily ever after.
As you know from the intro, those kinds of scenarios do not play out like that.
If anything, sending your sponsorship proposal too soon is a way to kill the deal, not cinch it.
Assume What Your Sponsors Want
A good sponsorship proposal should include assets and activations that are tailored precisely to the sponsor.
There’s no mention of customization anywhere because you know that actions speak louder than words.
Why merely talk about customizing your sponsorship package when you can actually do it?
Assuming you know what your sponsors want is another way to easily kill what could have been a profitable deal for you.
Include a Tiered Sponsorship Package
Speaking of assuming what sponsors want, a good sponsorship package never, ever includes tiered sponsorship.
Whether you call them gold, silver, or bronze packages or something else entirely, tiered sponsorship is overplayed, overutilized, and overrated.
You’re completely missing the point of what your prospects want when you present them with a gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship package.
You’re telling them that these assets and activations–which are the same assets and activations you sell everybody–are superior. Your sponsor needs them because they’re so good.
Forget that you didn’t bother to listen in on the sponsor’s needs and challenges and then respond accordingly with custom assets. Your tiered sponsorship package is better.
Well, except it isn’t better. Some sponsors do still fall for tiered sponsorship in this day and age, but you’ll find that they’re very, very few and far between.
Include a Cut-Out to Be Mailed with a Check
It’s absolutely brazen to include a cut-out page in your sponsorship proposal that a prospect can cut and then mail with a check.
You’re missing the entire point of sponsorship, that it’s about giving and taking, not one side taking everything.
Here’s What to Include in Your Sponsorship Proposal
For the rest of this article, I want to go through and discuss individually the components that should comprise your sponsorship proposal.
I promise that if you add these components in, more prospects will be interested in reading what you’ve put together, provided of course that you present the proposal at the right time.
About Us Page
Although you don’t want to yammer on too long, any prospect worth their salt is going to want to know who they’re potentially working with.
That’s the point of the about page.
This isn’t like the about page on your website where you can talk about your history, mission, biography, and other facets of your company or organization.
You need to keep it short and concise.
The simpler and shorter, the better. You can briefly mention your mission statement and values if you must, but you have to condense these to a single sentence rather than several paragraphs.
In fact, I recommend using only a single paragraph for your about us section if you can.
That’s hard to do, especially for new sponsorship seekers. I’ll give you this advice, then. You cannot exceed one page with this first section.
I feel like even a page is pushing it.
Audience data is the key to high-value sponsorship and thus should be the star of your sponsorship proposal.
If your proposals lack audience data or don’t include comprehensive, niched down audience data like I was talking about before, then it’s no wonder your prospects don’t want to read your proposal.
It’s not enough to fill in eight pages of biographical information on your company or organization in lieu of audience data.
Nothing replaces audience data, so make sure you have it.
I have a lot of resources on this blog about acquiring and segmenting audience data, and two of them, I linked you to earlier in this guide.
I cannot recommend enough that you read through those posts and follow the advice to the letter.
I do want to wrap up this subsection by including some audience data best practices, so to speak.
- If it’s been more than six months since you’ve surveyed your audience, it’s a good idea to do it again. Lots can change for many people in six months. They could get married, start a new job, have a baby, or move clear across the country. You need to know all this to keep your prospects current with your audience.
- Surveying your audience does mean asking uncomfortable questions about what they like and dislike about your events, programs, or opportunities. Use this feedback as a chance to learn and improve.
- When segmenting your audience, I always like to think of the various groups as Russian nesting dolls. You can only open a Russian nesting doll so many times before the smallest doll is too tiny to hold a smaller doll within. When you’ve segmented your audience into such small niches, then you’re finished.
Description of the Opportunity
What is your opportunity? What are you presenting to your sponsor in the form of assets and activations?
Here’s another question for you.
What do you put in your list of opportunities? Is it a menu of all the things you have to offer so a sponsor can choose what they want to purchase or are you using the gold, silver, and bronze tiered sponsorship menu?
You already know what I’m going to tell you to do. Get rid of the tiers ASAP.
The best sponsorship packages don’t include grids. They don’t have lists or menus of assets, and they don’t even feature pricing.
“But Chris,” I’m sure you’re asking aloud. “If I don’t include prices, then how will the sponsor know what to pay me?”
Here’s the thing.
When you focus on what your sponsorship package should have–activation ideas, case studies, past outcomes–then the sponsor will know what to pay.
You’re expressing your value without putting a dollar sign on it. That leaves wiggle room for price negotiation, which is what you want.
Why would you back yourself into a corner and say that Asset A is worth only $500 when it could be worth $2,000 if it solves a sponsor’s problems perfectly? That’s $1,500 you’re leaving on the table.
Many sponsorship seekers use the gold, silver, and bronze tiers solely because they think it will earn them more money.
In reality, they tend to make less money than someone with custom assets and activations that solve a sponsor’s problems.
If you have a pimple, you buy expensive acne cream. If your teeth are yellow, you shell out for teeth-whitening toothpaste.
If a sponsor has no social media engagement and you can fix that, then they’re usually willing to pay a premium provided your assets are high-value. They’re no different than any other consumer.
Now let’s talk about the ask, which I promise, is not what you think.
How so? Well, first of all, the ask is done in person.
You’ve had a discovery session and some follow-up meetings, the sponsor has asked to see your proposal, and they like what’s in there.
From this point, you two could sit down and begin negotiating pricing, which is why I don’t recommend putting prices in the sponsorship package. There’s a time and a place for talking about money, and it comes after the proposal.
So how much do you ask for? That’s the million-dollar question that, in some cases, can truly be worth a million dollars.
You need to know your value, which means you’ve had to have valuated your assets.
In short, a valuation is using market value, competitor pricing, and other relevant information to determine how much your assets should be worth.
It’s not quite as easy as copying down the prices you find down to the last decimal point.
You have to do a gut check to honestly assess whether your assets should be priced at that level, slightly higher, or slightly lower.
Sure, it’s very, very tempting to price all your assets higher than market value, but then do you know what happens? Your sponsor will turn you down.
Knowing your value means being honest. Even if your value isn’t as high as you wish it was right now, that doesn’t mean it will be low forever.
If you need help with valuations, I have a lot of training and free templates on the site that will make it easier.
You can also work with our team or hire a third-party valuation expert.
It’s worth the extra expense, as overpricing your assets is a surefire way to blow an ongoing deal while underpricing them means you end up with a lot less money than what you budgeted for.
Call to Action
That brings us to the call to action, the final component of your sponsorship proposal.
A call to action in sales and marketing is supposed to inspire just that, action.
A lead is supposed to pick up the phone or click a CTA button or send an email. You want them to do something.
At this stage in the game, what exactly is that something?
Well, usually, it’s to get your sponsor to agree to a meeting to go over the contents of the proposal.
Thus, the call to action page should be short and concise.
Provide contact information, but not for everyone in your company or organization. You only need one contact person.
Include their name, their job title (optional), their direct phone number, and their email address.
If none of your prospects bother reading your sponsorship proposal, I can guarantee you that you are not alone in that.
Part of the issue is the content of your proposal. As I mentioned before, you cannot overcompensate for a lack of audience data by including eight pages of biographical information.
Your sponsor isn’t contributing to your cause or mission statement and thus will never care to the same degree as you do. That’s not me trying to be rude but honest.
If you follow the pointers in today’s guide, I promise that you’ll get more interest in your future proposals.
Of course, knowing when to issue the sponsorship proposal is the other half of the battle. You want to wait until the sponsor genuinely wants to see it, which can take several meetings. Be patient in the meantime.
Remember, the sponsorship proposal does not and cannot make the sale. That’s up to you!
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
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