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How to Fix Your Sponsorship Program

by | April 19, 2022

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Are you afraid to ask for feedback?

I think a lot of us are because receiving feedback implies that we’re doing something wrong, and who wants to admit they’re doing something wrong or that they can stand to improve? 

You should, especially when it comes to your sponsorship program.

The best sponsorship seekers I know understand that a sponsorship program is not a static thing. It’s constantly changing and evolving after each sponsorship deal, becoming stronger along the way.

That requires feedback.

Today, I’ll tell you how to ask for it and how to implement it. If you’re okay with being uncomfortable and willing to do it to grow yourself and your sponsorship program, you’ll get a lot of benefits out of this article.

Let’s begin.

How to Determine What’s Wrong with Your Sponsorship Program

So much blood, sweat, and tears went into your sponsorship program that it’s become personal to you. Since it’s personal, it can be hard to admit that something is wrong with it.

Sometimes, it’s not even that easy to determine where you may be going wrong with your sponsorship initiatives. 

I’ve had many sponsorship seekers come up to me and tell me that since a gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship package worked for one sponsor of theirs that everything I’ve said about tiered packages must be incorrect.

Well, sometimes you can take a math test and guess the right answer. It doesn’t mean that you know how to arrive at the right answer though. 

It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get to the right answer again using whatever method you did.

How do you even begin to determine where you’re falling short in your sponsorship program? Here’s what I recommend you do.  


How to Determine What’s Wrong with Your Sponsorship Program

Do an Internal Assessment

I’m listing these methods from the least effective to the most effective. Yes, that means I think that internal assessments are only somewhat helpful. 

Why is that? Well, because everyone in your company is going to wear rose-colored glasses. 

This goes back to the point I made before. You put so much time and effort into your sponsorship program that you’ll struggle to see what’s wrong with it.

To admit that it’s flawed is to admit you did something wrong, and that can be tough to do in front of your superiors. 

Plus, as I mentioned before, even if you have an erroneous track record of success, it’s still a track record of success, nevertheless.

It’s hard to turn around and say you failed if your sponsors liked what you’re selling. 

Trust me though, that will not last forever.

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To make this process more objective, I recommend meeting with several members of your team, including stakeholders and decision makers. 

If you have some people in the meeting who weren’t directly involved with your sponsorship program, that’s even better.

They may be likely to view the sponsorship initiative more objectively, which can be lacking from those who were too close to the program.

I also recommend plying your stakeholders and other staff with as much data from your sponsorship program as you can.

I’m talking attendance numbers, sales, lead conversions, website visitors, social media traffic, bounce rates, email subscribers (and unsubscribers), the whole nine.  

You and I can argue about the value of logos in an assets menu until we’re both blue in the face. I know they’re not valuable, and a lot of my readers do too.

However, if you had a good experience offering logos to a sponsor, you might completely disagree with my assessment.

Once you add hard numbers and data to the equation, now you have a supporting argument. If using logos only increased your sponsor’s sales by 1.5 percent, that’s not very successful, now is it?

No, especially when you promised the sponsor a sales increase of 25 percent. 

It’s harder to argue numbers because they’re completely neutral. You’re forced to take the rose-colored glasses off and really assess your sponsorship program. 

Request Feedback from Your Sponsors

That said, I understand that your own biases can still come into effect even if you’re looking at cold, hard data. 

That’s why sometimes it’s better to hear feedback from the sponsor company themselves. 

Your sponsor has the unique vantage point of having been directly involved in your event, program, or opportunity but isn’t a part of your company. 

Their feedback will be honest, and that’s something you can count on. 

Will your sponsor take it easy on you? Potentially. If you and the rep at the sponsor company forged a natural rapport or even a friendship, then they might be reluctant to give you too much pushback.

Then again, that also depends on how well you did at delivering on your objectives.

Remember, for whoever your contact is at a sponsor company, they have someone over them who they have to answer to. That person might have someone over them who they need to answer to.

Thus, if you seriously under-deliver, you could get a lot of feedback from your sponsor. 

Even if you delivered or over delivered, they should have some pointers they can give you. 

Here’s what I recommend. When your sponsor offers feedback, listen. Don’t spend the time they’re talking thinking of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to defend yourself. 

Just listen. 

Feedback, even if it is constructive, is not an attack on you or your company or organization. It’s simply the sponsor telling you where they think you fell short.

They’re not telling you this to hurt your feelings or make you feel bad. They want you to be a better partner next time, either for them or the next sponsor you work with. 

You may disagree with the sponsor’s feedback. Before you interject, stop and think for a moment.

Is this reaction coming out of a need to defend yourself or do you genuinely think the sponsor is incorrect?

If so, you are allowed to say you disagree. However, be prepared that the sponsor might have facts and figures to back up their assertions.

At that point, then it’s not a matter of he-said, she-said anymore. The numbers and data speak for themselves. 

All this said, the sponsor can only offer you feedback. It’s up to you whether you implement it. 

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Ask the Companies You Didn’t Hear Back From 

Remember how earlier I talked about how you might have a successful sponsorship program by taking a logos-first approach or using gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship tiers?

Heck, in some cases, you could even have two or more successful sponsorship programs using these approaches.

That doesn’t mean what you’re doing is working. Most sponsors–I would say 97 percent–don’t care for these approaches. 

You’ve just so happened to find the three percent or so that is okay with tiered sponsorship levels and okay assets. 

The other prospects you reached out to either rejected you or gave you radio silence, which is another way of rejecting you.

If you can, you want to find out why.

That’s right. I want you to email the prospects you reached out to and ask for feedback. 

You don’t need every company to respond to you, nor should you expect it. If you email 100 companies and five reply, that’s enough feedback.

These companies chose not to work with you, so they’re going to give you the most honest feedback yet. They don’t feel like they owe you any favors, so to speak. 

Deciding What Part of Your Sponsorship Program to Fix First

You’ve looked at the feedback and weighed all the responses. Now what?

It’s time to determine what parts of your sponsorship program demand the most changes ahead of your next sponsorship project.

How do you do that? It’s easy! 

You got feedback from your sponsor and maybe a few prospects as well. Do you see any common thread emerge from the replies? Maybe there are one or two areas that everyone said were a little lacking?

These are the areas you need to work on. 

Maybe your sponsor thought your activations sounded good on paper but underperformed when the time came. 

In that case, you’d sit down with others in your company or organization and decide where your activation wasn’t so good and how to make future activations better.

Perhaps the design of the activation didn’t grab the attention of the event attendees. Maybe a lack of audience research created a mismatch between what the sponsor was offering and what your audience wanted.

It could even come down to factors that weren’t entirely in your hands such as where the sponsor’s booth was placed. 

It’s okay, by the way, to admit that mistakes happened that were out of your control. You’re not washing your hands of all responsibility, of course, nor are you failing to own up to something. 

Even factors that are out of your hands could be better accommodated with more planning, so that’s something to work on. 

I must stress that even if you get the above issues corrected, the next time you work with a sponsor, they could have feedback centered around a whole different part of your sponsorship program.

That can be the case whether you work with the same sponsor or someone different.

As I said in the intro, your sponsorship program is not static. You want it to constantly change and evolve for the better. 

That will mean consistently asking for and implementing feedback and accepting that the job is never done.  


Is it easy to admit your sponsorship program is imperfect? Of course not.

Is it something you have to do for the betterment of your future sponsor relationships? Yes.

My biggest takeaway to you is this. Leave your ego and personal feelings at the door. When you talk to your sponsor about your sponsorship program, try to think about it like someone else’s sponsorship program instead.

This way, you won’t get so argumentative when the sponsor tries to bring up a perfectly valid point that you miss that point entirely. You also won’t get so attached to how you’re pursuing sponsorship that you fail to implement feedback.

If you still need help supercharging your sponsorship program, I highly recommend you check out my free training called How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program

It’s full of lots of useful material that will help you focus your attention on the right areas, find the right sponsors, and assemble a truly powerful sponsorship program.