How to Write a Sports Sponsorship Proposal
Before you dive in, if you are interested in sport sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for sports” series:
5 Sports Sponsorship Valuation Strategies
5 Examples of Bad Sports Sponsorships that Missed the Mark
Sports Sponsorship Measurement and ROI Metrics to Track
7 Best Sports Sponsorship Activations
How do Sponsorships Benefit the Sports Organization and the Sponsor?
The Best Companies for Sports Sponsorship
Why is Sponsorship Important in Sport?
The Definitive Guide to Sports Fan Engagement
The Rise of Insurance Companies in Sports Sponsorship
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Alcohol in Sport Sponsorship
If you’ve only skimmed through the information in this guide (which, you really should take the time to read everything), then spend some time with this section at least. It’s a recap of all the steps needed for sport sponsorship success.
The sponsorship proposal is a key document in your sponsorship program. Detailed in the proposal are your cause, your priced assets in a menu (also known as the sponsorship package), and information about your event. Even in sports sponsorship, you need to write a proposal, but how do you do it?
Here’s how to write a sports sponsorship proposal:
- Start with the title page, which has your tagline, logo, etc.
- Share pertinent audience data
- Talk briefly about your event/game/opportunity
- Be even briefer in your description of your company
- Present your sponsorship package, including assets and activation ideas
- Add your contact information
This detailed guide is going to be chock full of useful information for sports teams and athletes who want to get their sponsorship proposal right the first time. Ahead, I’ll go page by page and explain what should (and shouldn’t) be in your proposal. I’ll even include a sample letter or two for sports sponsorship.
Let’s get started!
The Page-by-Page Breakdown of What Should Go into Your Sports Sponsorship Proposal
Before I get into how to write your sports sponsorship proposal, I want to make sure that you’ve done several crucial jobs first.
You should have already sent out an audience survey to those who attend your games and support your team by purchasing merch. This survey helps you identify audience metrics that will guide your decision-making going forward. For example, you’ll have handy the age, gender, location, and interests of your audience.
Knowing your audience helps your team better connect with them to increase attendance at games and boost your merch sales. More pertinent to your sponsorship pursuits, your audience data allow your team to stand out. Your audience is also usually among your most valuable assets if not the most valuable.
Speaking of assets, you should have already gone through yours, not to mention you need activation ideas. You should have determined the value of your assets as well so you can assign prices to them.
With all that done, it’s time to get started on your sponsorship proposal, which will be a mere six-page document. Yes, I know, six pages don’t seem like a lot to cover everything you think needs to be in the proposal, but trust me on this. It’s more than enough.
Here’s what goes into each page of your sports sponsorship proposal.
Page 1 – Title Page
The first page is your title page. This is among the simplest pages to put together, which will start you off strong.
If your sports program or opportunity has a name, you want to put that on the title page. Add your sports team logo as well. An included tagline can go on this page should you have one.
Otherwise, that’s it. You don’t want to clutter up the title page too much because that’s not what it’s for. If you do decide on any additional text, please never ever refer to the document as a sponsorship proposal. That’s a great way to turn off a target sponsor ASAP.
Page 2 – Audience Data
Before you mention a thing about your sports event and before you ask for even a dollar, you need to incentivize the target sponsor to keep reading. The best way to do that is to share your audience data. I told you before that you’ll need to do audience research, and here’s where it will go front and center.
What do you want to tell the target sponsor about your audience? As much as you can!
The sponsor will want to know who your audience is, so all the demographical information you gathered before will apply. I mean all demographics, by the way, especially money-related demos such as your audience’s respective salaries and their buying power. You also want to share the behavioral motivations of your audience and their pain points.
Rather than write paragraph after paragraph about your audience, convert your audience data into easily digestible graphs, charts, and other visual data. You can include a photo of your last sports game if you have a panned shot of the audience and your attendance was very healthy. However, if such a photo doesn’t yet exist, don’t sweat it. It’s not mandatory at all.
Page 3 – Event/Opportunity Introduction
Only once you reach the third page is it time to delve into your sports game or fundraiser. This page has just two paragraphs, yet many sponsorship seekers have the hardest time writing it.
Why is that, you ask? Well, because you only get one paragraph to talk about your sports team or organization. Yes, I know, that seems crazy. You should at least get a whole page, not just a paragraph on one page.
Yet this won’t be the only time you’ll get to discuss your team and what you’re all about. If you do everything right, there will be meetings with the sponsor, the first of which is a discovery session. So please, keep your company background to one paragraph.
You can use that paragraph however seems best, whether you talk about your sports team’s history, legacy, or future goals. Remember though that a paragraph has about six sentences, so don’t overdo it.
The second paragraph on this page is about your sports game or event. Although it can be hard to compact all the information about your game into one paragraph, do your best. You will get to talk about your event lots more if the target sponsor is interested, so this probably won’t be your only chance.
Page 4 – Sponsorship Package
The fourth page includes your sponsorship package or menu, which is the aforementioned assets pulled together and priced. Like you aren’t using the words “sponsorship proposal” anywhere in the proposal, you should also never specifically say “sponsorship package” or “sponsorship opportunities” either.
The best sponsorship packages are those that were custom-designed and tailored to the target sponsor with the sponsor’s involvement. If you went ahead and put together your sports sponsorship package without the target sponsor, then include a few sentences about how the sponsor can offer their own suggestions to the menu.
Then lay out all your assets. Please don’t use stock sponsorship packages with gold, silver, and bronze tiers though. I’ve talked about this a million times before, but it’s been a while, so here’s a refresher on why this is such a big mistake.
When you hold captive all your best assets in the gold package (or platinum, whatever your top-level package is), you’re essentially strongarming the sponsor. You know they want the best assets, they know they want the best assets, so you make them pay the most money for those assets.
It’s like when you want a cheeseburger but the only way to get it is as part of the combo meal with fries, a drink, and dessert. You buy the combo meal because you want the burger, but you’re not happy about it.
Some target sponsors might decide that, while they’re interested in what you have to offer, that they’re not going to pay that much cash for only a few assets they want and plenty more others that they could live without. It’s game over at that point!
Page 5 – Activation Ideas
The fifth page of your sports sponsorship proposal is where your activation ideas go. Yes, activation ideas are technically an asset, but you want them on their own page so the target sponsor can go through them at their leisure.
As a sports team or organization, it should be easier for you to come up with activation ideas than most. You don’t have some stuffy business convention to host, after all, but a sports game! Maybe you give away a signed jersey or gear as part of a contest or you have a VR booth where attendees can put themselves in the digital shoes of their favorite sports players.
You could even see who can kick a soccer ball the furthest, score the most basketball dunks, or achieve some other sports milestone.
Besides ensuring how fun your activation ideas are, you also want to keep the target sponsor’s goals in mind. Your activation should be done according to your sports team’s budget as well.
Page 6 – Contact Information
Woohoo, you’re just about done at this point. The sixth and last page of your sports sponsorship proposal is where your contact information goes.
Yes, by the time they see the proposal, the target sponsor has your phone number or email address, maybe even both. Yet phone numbers can get lost and emails sent to the wrong folder. Refresh the target sponsor’s memory by including up-to-date contact information on this last page.
You also want a call to action or CTA on the sixth page. The CTA should be titled. At the very least, it can say “we want to hear from you!” I’m sure you can come up with something better than though, so get creative.
Here is an infographic I put together that makes the entire sponsorship process clear, including writing your proposal. I also have a sponsorship proposal template you should check out.
Sports Sponsorship Letter Templates
As promised, here are some sponsorship letter templates that are geared towards sports teams like yours.
Golf Tournament Sample Sponsorship Letter
Do you have a golf tournament and you’re seeking sponsorship? This letter will serve you well.
Hello [name of sponsorship company contact],
[Name of whoever connected you] mentioned your name to me since they know you’re a big fan of golf.
[Name of company/organization] is hosting a golf tournament on [date] [time] at [location]. As one of the leading companies/organizations in [city/town], [your golf team or company name] has [brief mention of your accomplishments].
This [golf tournament name] will attract [type of attendees based on your audience data], which we noticed overlapped with some of your own company goals. Thus, we thought a sponsored partnership could be well-suited to us both.
I’m eager to discuss this opportunity with your further. What about [time] on [date]? I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
General Sports Sample Sponsorship Letter
For all other sports outside of golf, try this sponsorship letter template.
Greetings, [name of sponsorship company contact],
I was recently talking to [name of whoever connected you] about our upcoming [name of sport] game and they suggested I contact you.
Our [team/organization] is based in [city/town] and has [talk briefly about accomplishments or virtues]. This event will be [talk about projected attendance and type of audience], which I believe is in line with some of your company’s current goals.
We would love to talk with you about a possible sponsorship opportunity. Can we connect on [date] [time]? Let me know, thanks!
Sponsorship Proposal Best Practices
You put so much effort into your sports sponsorship proposal that the last thing I would want is for you to make the mistake of sending it too early. Even a great proposal can sour the whole deal if you attach it before the target sponsor is interested in seeing it.
That’s why you must keep these tips in mind as you proceed with meeting the target sponsor for the first time and having subsequent meetings.
Don’t Make the Proposal Longer or Shorter Than Six Pages
I didn’t pull my six-page sponsorship proposal template out of thin air. I worked with many clients, all of them sponsorship seekers like you, to put together what I think is the perfect recipe for a sponsorship proposal.
Each page has its own clear intentions, so you certainly don’t want to skip any pages when writing your own sports sponsorship proposal. Likewise, don’t add extra pages either. You don’t need two pages to talk about your football team or the game coming up. You get one paragraph for each.
If you’re having a hard time finessing your writing into those constraints, then edit the proposal with your coach or a few teammates or other key people. Keep cutting down on extraneous words and you’ll get to the right length.
Never Cold-Email Your Proposal
If you want to kill a potential sponsorship dead, then send a cold email with your sponsorship proposal attached.
I never recommend cold emailing a target sponsor period, nor cold calling. Between your sports team and connections within your team or organization, you should have someone you know at the sponsor company. That relationship will make the target sponsor more willing to listen to what you have to say.
However, that still doesn’t mean you should send the sponsorship proposal right away!
Leave the Proposal at Home Until the Target Sponsor Asks for It
You’ve landed a meeting with the target sponsor. You’re about to print off a dozen copies of your sponsorship proposal so all the attendees at the meeting can review it. Save the ink and the paper, because your proposal should not accompany you to the first meeting.
That meeting is for discovery only. You don’t even know if you want to work with the sponsor yet, nor do they know if they want to work with you. Why are going to send them the proposal already?
That’s like putting in an offer on a house without even seeing it yet. It’s a bad decision.
Once you’re sure you’d like to strike up a business relationship with the sponsor, you still have to wait to send your sponsorship proposal. It might take two or three or even four more meetings before the target sponsor asks for the proposal. Then and only then should you attach it in an email.
Remember Who Makes the Sponsorship Sale – It’s You!
Look, I don’t want to understate the importance of your sports sponsorship proposal, but you must remember that at the end of the day, it’s six pieces of paper. The proposal alone is not going to make the sponsorship sale. Only you can do that.
The best way I can equate it is this. When you go on a job interview, your resume doesn’t get you the job, you do. Sure, the information in your resume is impressive, but it’s sitting down, meeting with the hiring manager, and making a connection that wins you the offer.
Some first-time sponsorship seekers rely on the sponsorship proposal as a crutch. They also get nervous when the target sponsor doesn’t want to see the proposal right away.
If you’ve spent the time in meetings with the target sponsor wisely, then they should be privy to the types of assets your sports team can offer. They should also know about you and your event as well as a bit about your audience.
The sponsorship proposal pulls all that information together into one concise package that the target sponsor can review with their key stakeholders. Then they’ll choose whether to work with you.
Don’t give the sponsorship proposal too little attention, but don’t conflate it into something it’s not either. The power to make a sponsorship sale is in your hands!
Writing a sports sponsorship proposal doesn’t have to be difficult. By following my six-page template and knowing when to send the proposal, it can act as the supporting document that guides a target sponsor in their decision.
With the proposal written, your team is one step closer to achieving sports sponsorship!
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.
Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn