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How to Get Sponsorship-Ready in the Eyes of a Sponsor 

by | August 12, 2022

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

A lot of my clients here at the Sponsorship Collective are first-time sponsorship seekers or those who had a sponsorship opportunity sort of drop into their laps but can’t replicate their success.

If I asked a group like that what it means to be sponsorship-ready, I’d probably hear an assortment of answers that would all boil down to this.

You’re ready for sponsorship when you need the money. You can issue a stock sponsorship package with gold, silver, and bronze assets that you put together before even meeting the sponsor and that suffices.

Of course, what it means to be sponsorship-ready in the eyes of an inexperienced sponsorship seeker versus in the eyes of a sponsor are two very different things.

Like night and day different.

I’m here to tell you what it really takes to become sponsorship-ready so the next time a good opportunity comes your way, you’re ready.

Let’s get started!

5 Things to Do Today to Be Ready for Sponsorship in the Eyes of Your Sponsors 

You might feel like you’re ready for sponsorship today, but are you really? 

I would wager the answer is probably not. Fortunately, it’s very easy to get up to speed so you can impress the next sponsorship prospect you reach out to.

Here are 5 things your sponsorship program needs to be ready in the eyes of a sponsor.

Create an Inventory of Things to Sell

I know how obvious this seems, don’t get me wrong. 

Yet you’d be surprised what sponsorship seekers can sometimes skip, especially when they’re crunching to meet a deadline because their event is in six months and they have no sponsors (which is really another way of saying they have no money).

Instead of creating an inventory of assets, you just stuff the most generic assets into a gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship package.

What kind of generic assets am I talking about? Logos, speaking opportunities, social media posts, e-blasts, you get the idea.

These are all low-value assets. They’re assets you present to every sponsor without having asked the sponsor about what their needs and challenges are. 

They’re assets that, if they earn you anything at all, will be such a low-dollar amount that you’ll wonder how companies ever make five or six or even seven figures from sponsorship (it does happen!).

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The best sponsorship packages are customized. It just so happens these are the most lucrative (read: money-making) sponsorship packages as well.

Before you can customize any part of your sponsorship package, you need to create a full inventory of what you can sell to a sponsor.

You’re not thinking of any one sponsor as you’re doing this; not yet. Instead, you just want a list of every single asset you can present to a prospective sponsor. 

Now, I’m not telling you to omit the social media posts and logos and speaking opportunities. You’ll include all those somewhere in your list of assets because it’s exhaustive. Yet you’ll have so many more high-value assets as well. 

Later, when you get to the point where you’re sitting down with a prospect in a meeting and talking about their needs and challenges, you can refer back to your exhaustive list of assets.

Then it’s sort of like playing connect the dots. You know that Prospect A has problems X, Y, and Z. You have assets that can solve problems X, Y, and Z. 

That’s how you start the basis of a working sponsorship relationship. 

Know Your Value 

How much is your sponsorship property worth as a whole? 

I can’t answer that for you, and it’s not up to the sponsor or prospect to answer that for you either. You need to know ahead of time.

Allow me to use an example to explain the importance of knowing your value. 

Have you ever found an item in your garage or attic that you thought was a hunk of junk? So you put it on eBay or go to the local pawn shop to see if maybe you can get $20 for it?

You sell the item and it’s out of your hair. Later, you get curious if maybe you could have made more money. 

Once you do a bit of research, you realize that the item you sold could have sold for at least four or five times what you got for it. All because you didn’t know the value of what you’re selling. 

A pawn shop owner is not going to tell you how much something is worth for the same reason a sponsor won’t. They have a good idea of what the value is worth, but you’re the one doing the negotiating, so they want to see what you’re going to ask for it.

If you’re unintentionally low-balling your assets, what sponsor is going to tell you, “go higher?” They get great assets at a reduced price. To them, it’s a bargain. 

To you, you’re being ripped off, often without you realizing it until much later (if ever).

So how do you know your value in sponsorship?

There’s only one surefire way, and it’s known as valuation.

Remember that list of assets you created? That truly long, exhaustive list? 

What I want you to do next is go through and value each asset. 

Valuing means examining market value or the cost of your competitor’s services and using those as the basis for dictating your pricing.

For example, let’s say you thought a speaking engagement for your event is worth $2,000.

Then you do some research and realize that only high-end speakers with name recognition fetch that kind of value for a speaking arrangement. You bring your price down to $500, which is more in line with the market value.

It doesn’t always work like that, with you constantly reducing prices, of course. You might look at the cost of a service and realize that you can increase the price, either because your service is exemplary or unique or just that high-quality.

Only when you’ve valued your assets can you determine just how much your opportunity is worth as a whole. 

Produce Well-Defined Audience Niches

You’ve mostly figured out what you’ll sell to your prospective sponsor, which is great. 

No matter how promising your assets may seem as of now, you’re still missing the most valuable asset, and that’s your audience. 

Who is your audience? Broad answers won’t work here, so you can’t say middle-class families or hockey fans or business executives. That doesn’t tell a sponsor anything about your audience. 

They want to see audience niches. A niche is a small collective; it’s not broad. It’s as hyper-specific as possible. 

So rather than say your audience is middle-class families, you’d say that a big portion of your audience lives across New York, has two children, and makes $45,000 a year. 

Instead of talking about hockey fans, you could break down your entire demographic of hockey fans by their gender, their age brackets, where they live (including specific neighborhoods and boroughs), if they’re married or single, if they have kids and how many, their highest level of education, their job or industry, their income, and their shopping behaviors.

So if your prospect was somehow related to hockey or you’re a hockey organization seeking sponsors, you can present your audience in a very highly segmented, niched way.

Your prospect can take one look at your audience groups, see that your audience includes several groups they’re targeting, and now they’re a lot more interested in working together. 

Imagine for a moment that you’re selling the most valuable thing you own. Maybe it’s your house, maybe it’s your car, or maybe it’s a stack of old 1930s baseball cards that are worth a fortune.

You would do everything in your power to make your item look as valuable as possible, right? Of course, because you want to fetch the full value.

Your audience is the crown jewel of your sponsorship assets. You want to make your audience look like a million bucks and segmenting them is the best way to do that.

And who knows, maybe your audience really is worth a million bucks. That’s between you and your prospect to decide. 

How do you obtain this audience data if your company is new, and you don’t already have it?

I would recommend issuing an audience survey. 

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Build Activations 

The next must-have component of your sponsorship program to make it ready in the eyes of a sponsor is activations. 

An activation is an experiential marketing opportunity with a two-pronged approach. Your activations should provide something your audience wants as well as something your sponsor wants. Yes, at the same time.

Since you now know your audience worlds better than you probably ever have before, determining what they need becomes a lot easier. 

You shouldn’t ever be guessing at this. You should ask questions in your audience survey about your past events and what your audience enjoyed versus what they didn’t. This information will shape your future activation ideas.

For example, if you know that your audience wants more phone-charging stations for future events, then you can approach your prospect about a branded phone-charging station. 

It’s a simple activation, but if you can find a way to get your audience’s contact information to the sponsor through a phone-charging station, then it can work. 

Well, provided that your sponsor wants to build its list or boost its lead gen. If it’s just interested in brand awareness, the phone-charging station idea works as is.

Activations make the event. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about corporate events, music events, or sports events. Activations are crucial. 

They give the audience something to do and engage with before the event and during intermission. They provide entertainment, information, and sometimes critical resources an audience needs like a place to sit, a place to charge their phones, or refreshments. 

They also provide your sponsor with a very valuable opportunity to interact with your audience directly or indirectly. 

I always say that coming up with activations doesn’t have to be something your company or organization does on its own. You want to build a few activations to start, then work with your prospect to make those activations even stronger and better. 

Be in a Position to Measure ROI

That brings us to the fifth and final thing your sponsorship program needs to be ready in the eyes of a sponsor. 

That’s the ability to measure success or return on investment. 

Even if you’ve never had a sponsor before, you’ve still had to prove ROI in your working life, I’m sure. 

When you convinced your boss to upgrade your computer security, you provided a list of benefits that would occur if they made the switch. Then, when they did, you tracked metrics that proved it was a good decision.

So think of how you’ve proved ROI in your professional life and then come up with ways to do the same in your sponsor relationships. 

You want to show your prospect before your event even happens that you have measures in place for tracking ROI. 

Then, if the prospect agrees to work with you, you have to do exactly as promised.

You’d put all your event findings in what’s known in the sponsorship world as a fulfillment or post-event report. 

The report details all the assets you told your sponsor you’d deliver on and then how well you delivered them. 

You can’t get perfect marks every time, but more often than not, you want to at least deliver what you promised if not exceed expectations.

The fulfillment report proves that you’re a valuable partner to work with and could motivate your sponsor to want to team up again next year. 


Sponsorship is a marketing tool, and, in my opinion, the most powerful tool in the marketing discipline. 

You must know what you have, what it’s worth, who your audience is, how you can meaningfully engage with your audience, and whether that produces an ROI for your sponsors. 

These are the things that sponsors look for. If you have these five things, your sponsorship program is ready, and you’re likely to hear back from more of the prospects you reach out to. 

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