- November 6, 2017
- Posted by: cbaylis
- Category: Corporate Sponsorship, Event Sponsorship, In-Kind Sponsorship, Infographics, Sponsorship
I have been getting tons of questions from readers, Sponsorship Academy members, clients and workshop attendees about writing sponsorship request letters. As you know by now, I am a strong believer in a sponsor-centric approach to sponsorship sales and have described the best ways to get sponsors on my blog and in the posts below:
- The One Thing Every Sponsor Wants (And Nobody Is Doing)
- Five Questions For Every Sponsorship Prospect
- How To Get 394 Warm Sponsorship Prospects
I see a lot of the same mistakes being made when sponsorship seekers write a request letter to sponsors and so this post will focus on a structure and a process that will guide your sponsorship efforts. I have also included a sponsorship request letter template as well as an infographic.
Scroll down to see the infographic, template and to download a sample sponsorship proposal to get you going!
The Sponsorship Request Letter Doesn’t Make the Sale!
If your first point of contact with a sponsor is by writing them a sponsorship request letter, your chances of success are very low. It is incredibly important to involve your sponsors in the process of building a request letter or a sponsorship proposal.
You can use the sponsorship letter to grab their attention, warm up a call or, better yet, to summarise the results of a recent meeting before moving on to a full proposal. I think a letter makes more sense as a starting point than a full proposal but nothing beats a quick phone call or short email to a sponsor to understand their needs before writing anything.
In a last resort, after attempting all of the techniques listed above, a sponsorship request letter can help open doors…but you have to do it properly!
Let me show you a sponsorship letter template that works.
The Sponsorship Letter Template
If the goal of the sponsorship request letter is not to make the sale then what is the goal? Simply put, it’s to get the attention of your prospect and to get them to take your call or agree to a meeting.
How do you get their attention? By being crystal clear on your opportunity and your audience. Here is a template to follow when creating your own sponsorship letter.
Introduce Yourself and Your Opportunity
This is not the time to include a long winded, multi paragraph description of your mission, vision, history and how much money you need to make budget or accomplish your goals. This is where you briefly describe who you are and a sentence or two about your organization. Less is more here.
Tell Them Why You Got in Touch
Why did you get in touch? For money, right? Wrong! Tell them why you got in touch with them! The key word being “them.” Why did you choose their company and why did you choose them in particular? Do you know someone in common who suggested that you connect? This is the place to mention your mutual contact’s name and why they thought the two of you should meet.
What is it about their corporate goals that line up with yours? Do they have a history of sponsoring opportunities like yours? Do you offer access to an audience they’ve indicated is important to them? Is the main contact involved in organizations like yours?
This is where you show them that you’ve done your homework and that they are not just one of thousands of letters you are firing out the door.
Tell Them About Your Audience
This is your opportunity to stand out! Sponsorship is all about marketing and sales and both marketing and sales require a target customer to work. Do you have your prospect’s target customer? Here is where you prove it.
I’m not talking about basic demographic information here or sweeping generalisations like “middle class families.” I’m talking about data that describes who your audience is, why they are involved with your organisation, the types of purchases they plan to make and data related specifically to your prospect. Do they buy your prospect’s product already? Can you help your prospect sell more product or keep current customers?
Most sponsorship seekers leave audience data out completely hoping that their prospects will be impressed by their cause or by the prestige of their brand but without audience data, you look just like every other proposal that lands on their desk.
Not sure who your audience is? Check out this blog post all about audience data and sponsorship.
Tell Them About Your Activation Opportunities
Need a refresher on activation? Check out this blog post all about building activation ideas that work. Need some inspiration to build some cool activation ideas? Here are eight activation ideas to get the creative juices flowing!
Instead of focusing on how much money you want from your sponsor, use your sponsorship letter to show your prospect that you understand how sponsorship works. Give them three examples of activation ideas that your sponsors and your audience love. Show them the types of outcomes you can offer them, like branding or sampling or product placement or contests.
Be specific and be clear about the way you work with sponsors and how sponsors can add value to your audience (who is also their target customer).
Tell Them When You Will Follow Up
Let your prospect know that you plan to follow up and be specific. Tell them that you are going to call them on a specific date and time. Tell them that you plan to stop by their office on a certain date to say hi and that you would love to learn more about their goals and how you can work together.
When you tell your prospect that you plan to follow up, you are showing them that you are serious about working together. Then add your contact information and invite them to get in touch if the above times don’t suit them.
Faced with an impending meeting with a sponsorship seeker, more often than not, your sponsors will follow up with you first. It may be to tell you “no thanks” or it may be to learn more about your audience and the cool activation ideas you featured in your letter. Either way, a yes or no is better than silence, requiring you to follow up forever.
Things to Avoid in Your Sponsorship Letter
There are several things you want to avoid in your initial outreach. In no particular order, they are:
- Specific financial requests
- Leaflets, pamphlets, samples or proposals
- Pictures of your stakeholders or program users
- Focusing on need
- Words like “to whom it may concern” (Be sure to address the letter to a specific person)
- Assumptions about their target audience or key demographic
Stay focused on the core goal of the sponsorship letter: to present your opportunity in a respectful way and ask for a meeting.
Follow Up Time!
If you sent your letter to a cold prospect, the first thing to do is implement all of the techniques suggested in the blog posts listed in this article. In other words, try to warm up the contact and connect with them directly.
If you cant make a direct connection to your prospect then get ready to follow up. A lot. Remember that these folks get hundreds of these types of requests every week (or every day in some cases!). Start by following up on the date and time that you told them you would, then follow up some more. Use the scripts and email templates listed in my free e-book The Tactical Guide to Sponsorship Sales.
Looking for a Sample Sponsorship Letter?
How to Write a Letter Requesting Sponsorship
The Sponsorship Thank You Letter
The thank you letter that you send your sponsors is actually called a fulfillment report. In a fulfillment report, you outline all of the things you promised your sponsors, how much they paid for those benefits and then you report on how well you delivered those assets along with the revised value of what you actually delivered.
You want to make sure you thank you sponsors within one week of the end of your event or campaign (or quarterly if you have a yearlong relationship with your sponsors).
Remember: If your first point of contact with a sponsor is by writing them a sponsorship request letter, your chances of success are very low! You can use the sponsorship letter to grab their attention, warm up a call or, better yet, to summarise the results of a recent meeting before moving on to a full proposal.
In a last resort, after attempting all of the techniques listed above, a sponsorship request letter can help open doors…but you have to do it properly! A letter or proposal, no matter how well written, is never a replacement for good old fashioned sponsor-centric sales.
About the author
Chris Baylis is an expert in sponsorship valuation and sponsorship strategy. Chris works with brands and sponsorship properties to define their sponsorship goals, determine market value of their sponsorship assets and create strategies that work. Chris is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and an international speaker and consultant on all things sponsorship marketing.