How to Determine Sponsorship Levels
Gold, silver, and bronze. The same award tiers used for athletic performance and other forms of excellence may sound like a natural fit for your sponsorship package, but I’m here to tell you that’s just not true. To up your chances of a sponsor accepting your proposal, you need to rethink sponsorship levels. But how?
The following methods for determining sponsorship levels are ideal:
- Customizing per sponsor
- Using a sponsor’s feedback from case studies and activation ideas
- Making a common benefits list
- Utilizing some form of sponsorship levels if necessary, but letting the sponsor have a say in what goes into each level
Want more information on these sponsorship level options? Keep reading, as I’ll explain everything you need to know in much more detail. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to craft your strongest sponsorship package yet!
Why Gold, Silver, and Bronze Sponsorship Levels Are Dead
It’s no secret that I hate the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship levels. Most sponsors feel the same way I do, and for good reason.
Packaging your assets like this is akin to holding them hostage.
Imagine this. You go to your favorite clothing store to buy a shirt. You find a shirt you love, try it on in the dressing room, and it fits you perfectly. Happily, you go to the checkout line to buy your shirt, but the cashier tells you something strange. They say that, to buy the shirt, you also have to purchase a bottle of cologne and a gift card, and a pair of shoes too.
You just want the shirt. However, because you so badly wish to own it, you buy everything else that comes with it as well.
This is how your sponsors can feel. You obviously save your top benefits and the most valuable assets for the gold tier. If a sponsor is only interested in asset A but has to buy X, Y, and Z to get on the gold tier, then they may reevaluate your sponsorship proposal, tossing it aside altogether.
The other major downside to gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship levels is the lack of customization. The tiers define themselves in this case. The bronze package is the cheapest, but it has the worst content. The silver package is more affordable and has some good assets, but few if any great ones. Instead, you save all the good stuff for your gold package, demanding the most money from your sponsors.
4 Methods for Determining Sponsorship Levels to Use Instead
If you’ve ever thought you had a killer proposal with a very lucrative and beneficial sponsorship package yet your sponsor turned it down, go back and look at your proposal right now. Chances are, you used the gold, silver, and bronze tiers.
You already know that’s a no-no. Here are 4 options that are much better.
Customize the Whole Sponsorship Package
Forget about gold, silver, and bronze. Forget about any sponsorship levels at all. Ditch the whole tiered system and customize your offerings to your sponsor from the ground up.
This requires you know your sponsor very, very well, so you must be attuned to the metrics and assets that matter most to them. For that extra work though, you can ensure you create a sponsorship package that your sponsor is actually excited to partake in. None of your assets are being held hostage, and you’re still getting fairly compensated for the benefits you’re offering.
Okay, so if you go the customization route, what do you put in the sponsorship package part of your proposal? You can’t exactly leave it blank, right?
Yes, that’s right. Instead of pushing assets towards a sponsor that you assume they’ll want to pay for, share activation ideas instead. These ideas get the creative juices flowing between you and your sponsor, and they can act as the backbone of your customization plans.
If you can, select activation ideas you’ve used with other sponsors, and successfully at that. This will prove to your new sponsor that you can pull off these ideas and deliver results.
Use Sponsor Feedback to Create Levels
If you’d rather stick to some traditional system of levels, then the second-best option I’d recommend is for you to use your sponsor’s feedback as you make your sponsorship levels.
You want to get a pulse on your sponsor and figure out what makes them tick. You can do this in several ways. For one, I’d suggest you send the sponsor relevant case studies to your industry or theirs.
Activation ideas come in handy here as well, especially those that you’ve implemented in the past. If you have some activation ideas or other, related ideas that have yet to come to fruition and are applicable, feel free to share these with your sponsor as well.
Then, you sit back and see what your sponsor has to say to all the great material you’ve sent them. Perhaps your case studies or activation ideas spark ideas of the sponsor’s own. You two can then collaborate on those ideas, getting the ball rolling for the assets and benefits you can offer in your sponsorship packages.
When you create sponsorship “levels” like this, it’s a real win-win for both you and the sponsor. Now they have several sponsorship packages to choose from, and all are great. You can also ensure you get a fair amount of money no matter which package the sponsor decides suits them most.
Making a Common Benefits List
If for some reason you can’t completely customize your sponsorship packages, nor can you work with your sponsor on the levels, then you’re not totally out of options yet. A common benefits list is my third-highest recommendation in determining sponsorship levels. It’s not an awful option, but it shouldn’t be your go-to, either.
Also known as a common benefits pool, I’ve written about common benefits list before. You can check out that link from earlier in the article to see one mention.
Okay, so what is a common benefits list or pool? As the name suggests, this is a sponsorship package that you don’t customize much from one sponsor to another.
Let’s say you’re courting three sponsors to help financially with a big gala you want to host in a couple of months. With a common benefits list, you’d follow the stages of the sponsorship strategy through to the steps where you write down a list of your assets and evaluate each one to price them.
Then you’d take your valuable assets and offer them to all three of the sponsors you’re courting. It doesn’t matter if the sponsor wanted to pay more (or less), the assets don’t change. In that regard, the sponsorship levels are a little less clearly-defined here.
You might utilize some customization with a common benefits list, but only a sponsor or two would gain access to this. For the most part, the common benefits pool is what it is.
Here’s an example of a common benefits list from a real client of ours.
Common benefits lists do have their place, don’t get me wrong. They can be a real time-saver if you’re offering the same assets and benefits to all your sponsors. You can use the benefits list to neaten your presentation, making your sponsorship proposal more appealing.
The downsides to the common benefits list are significant though. Failing to offer customization through your one-size-fits-all approach could turn off some sponsors. You’re also possibly capping your donations by offering only a selective list of benefits with no possibility to jump up a tier or two.
Further, you shut down the opportunities for collaboration. If a sponsor wanted to spitball some ideas with you, a common benefits pool doesn’t leave room for that. You’ve already set everything in stone. After all, if you’re offering one sponsor some things and a second sponsor something else, then the common benefits list pretty much becomes moot.
Stick to Traditional Levels, but Make Them More Appealing
If you must use levels, then let me offer some advice. You don’t want to continue to assign benefits to a gold, silver, or bronze tier and just call them something different, like basic, pro, and premium plans. A rose by any other name is still a rose, after all.
Instead, when you set your levels, you still dictate the amount of money, but you let your sponsor have a role in assessing what should go into each level.
This goes back to what I said before about holding the top assets hostage, which you’ll no longer do. You’re also not giving the sponsor stuff they don’t necessarily care about nor that they want, such as free passes or logos.
If you’re still sticking to the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship levels, I would suggest you look into a different way of packaging your assets. This is a tired, even dead tactic that sponsors aren’t typically very receptive to.
Instead, I always recommend customizing your sponsorship package from the ground up. If you can’t do that, then at the very least, let the sponsor have a say in what they’re paying for. This ensures the sponsor gets the value of their money and you get just the money so your event can go on successfully!
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.