If there’s one area of sponsorship that I find myself going over again and again with clients, it’s the sponsorship proposal. I don’t blame my clients in the slightest; proposals are tricky. You need to write them a certain way, then you also must be aware of when the right time is to send them.
It’s a new year, and if you’re like me, you’re probably planning a lot of new and exciting projects right now. If one of your goals is to work on your sponsorship program or finally earn some sponsorship sales in 2022, I’m here to help with today’s post.
What You SHOULDN’T Be Doing with Your Sponsorship Proposal – Are You Guilty of These Mistakes?
A quick Google search of “sponsorship proposal templates” reveals dozens of sites (including my own) and hundreds of default proposals on the web.
The issue though is that a lot of the proposals are vastly different from one another in content and composition. It’s no wonder you can make mistakes writing your own sponsorship proposal!
I want to go over a list of the most common sponsorship proposal mistakes so you can see which ones you might be making, sometimes without even realizing it.
Being Too Me-Centric
The sponsorship proposal is a succinct overview of your sponsorship opportunity. It’s what you’re selling to the sponsor, which is why you should include audience data and valuated assets.
What the sponsorship proposal is not is a biography of your company or organization.
I don’t want to be harsh here, but sometimes, you gotta be. If you’re soliciting sponsors with your proposal without having a discovery session and other follow-up meetings, then I can say with 100 percent certainty that the sponsor doesn’t care about your company. At all. Sorry.
You’re far from the only one who’s written to the sponsor looking for promotions and/or funding. If anything, you’re one of hundreds, maybe even thousands. The sponsor can’t make time to care about everyone’s cause. No business would ever get done.
Later, if the sponsor decides they want to work with you, then yes, they’ll want to learn more about your company or organization and what you do.
For now, by treating the sponsorship proposal as more of a chance to reveal your pet projects and causes, all you’re doing is increasing the chances of the sponsor throwing out your proposal.
In my sponsorship proposal templates, which you can learn more about in this video, you’ll discover that you get a few sentences in one paragraph to talk about yourself and what you do.
For many clients of mine, they’re shocked that they’re afforded such little space. How can you differentiate yourself from the competition if you can only write a paragraph about yourself?
It’s not just in who your company or organization is, but who your audience is that makes you unique. Focus more on your audience rather than company history and you could just pique a sponsor’s interest.
Writing Long Paragraphs
Have you ever gotten an email from a colleague or seen a post on social media that’s just one long block of text?
What do you do when you see all that text? You skim over it, right? It’s too hard to read because the paragraphs are just so long. You can’t follow along.
This article, by comparison, uses short and snappy paragraphs so you can easily digest the information in each one.
That’s how your sponsorship proposal should be structured too, short and sweet so the sponsor can quickly read it.
Using Gold, Silver, Bronze Pricing Tiers or a Take on Those Tiers
Some things are just better off left in the last decade, and the gold, silver, bronze sponsorship packages are definitely at the top of that list.
I’ve discussed in many, many blog posts why pricing and structuring your assets like this is a terrible move. If you by chance missed those posts, let me boil it down for you again.
The gold, silver, bronze sponsorship tiers are overused and incredibly predictable. They also force the sponsor to buy assets they don’t want just so they can access one or two assets of interest.
Some sponsorship seekers figure that if they call the pricing tier something different than gold, silver, bronze that that somehow makes it better. Yet a rose is still a rose by any other name, to wax Shakespearean for a moment.
Or in this case, a dud is still a dud by any other name.
Customizing every aspect of your sponsorship package, including the assets, is much more to your sponsor’s liking.
Sending the Proposal Too Early
Do you email your sponsorship proposal to your prospective sponsor the first time you contact them? Maybe you have one meeting and then whoosh, there goes your proposal out into cyberspace.
I can tell you the fate of your proposal without even having met you or your prospective sponsor. The proposal goes in the trash, be that the literal trash bin or the digital one on the sponsor’s computer desktop.
Sometimes a sponsorship prospect will tell you, “just send me the proposal.” First-time sponsorship seekers often take this literally, when really, it’s a nice-sounding brush-off from the sponsor.
You know, like when you bump into an old school peer and you say, “we should meet for coffee sometime.” It sounds polite, but you know you have zero intention of following up.
“Just send me the proposal” is the “let’s meet for coffee sometime” of the sponsorship world. It doesn’t mean what it seems!
Where the Sponsorship Proposal Slots into Your Sponsorship Program
Here at the Sponsorship Collective, there’s a set number of steps I recommend my clients follow to create a sponsorship program that can net them more sponsorship sales.
For instance, you want to start by doing audience research, as that will inform your sponsorship prospects. Then you want to have a discovery session with the most viable prospects.
In some cases, a sponsor can disrupt the flow of these steps, such as if they say “yes, let’s work together” during the discovery session. That’s rare, but it has happened, and it could happen to you as well. (Just don’t count on it).
Assuming your sponsorship program is like most and follows the stages I’ve established, you should have the discovery session before you sit down and write the sponsorship proposal.
Why is that?
During the discovery session, you’re learning about the sponsor’s problems. Through the solutions (i.e., assets) presented in your sponsorship proposal, you can help the sponsor overcome those problems.
By writing the sponsorship proposal before the discovery session, you’re truly putting the cart before the horse.
You can be sure your solutions are not tailored to the sponsor’s specific problems. If the sponsor glances over the proposal and sees a bunch of random assets that don’t suit them, then you guessed it, your proposal is going in the trash.
Save yourself the time and write the sponsorship proposal after meeting the sponsor for a discovery session.
Sponsorship Proposal Tips for 2022
If writing sponsorship proposals hasn’t worked out for you so far, it’s time to discard what you know and start anew. With my sponsorship proposal templates and these tips, you’ll be on the road to writing more effective proposals that sponsors will want to see.
It’s Not About You
I really can’t stress this enough. Your needs are not primary. Heck, they’re not even secondary.
It goes your sponsor > your audience > you.
I know, it seems like you’re getting the short end of the stick here, right? Yet there’s the thing.
When you fulfill your sponsor’s needs, you’re ensuring they’re happy so they’ll want to pay you or promote you as you two discussed. When you fulfill your audience’s needs, you increase audience retention and even sales.
So in taking the focus off yourself, you’re still getting what you want.
I know it’s hard to fight the urge to put yourself front and center. You might feel like your sponsorship property is too unique for that. I can assure you; it isn’t.
I’m not trying to be unkind, but you have to understand where your company or organization is on the sponsorship hierarchy. That’s at the bottom.
By trying to push yourself to the top, you’re doing so at the expense of your sponsor’s needs or your audience’s, and neither is good.
Get to Your Audience Data as Quickly as Possible
Remember how earlier I mentioned that writing overinflated paragraph after paragraph in your sponsorship proposal is a huge no-no?
Well, besides making it easier to read, short paragraphs also allow your sponsorship prospect to get to the information they really care about, and that’s your audience data.
You never want to bury these data pages deep into your proposal. Your sponsor might not get that far.
Provide at Least 25 Audience Data Points
How much audience data is too much? In my book, that limit almost doesn’t exist. Yet I know your sponsorship proposal can only be yae long, so I recommend focusing on presenting 25 audience data points at a minimum.
Here are some ideas you can use:
- Rate of participation with your company/organization’s events
- Number of children
- Preferred brands as relevant to the sponsor (such as banks they use, cars they drive, magazines they read, etc.)
- Email open rates and click-through rates
Include at Least Three Customer Personas or Avatars
Customer avatars are a common sales and marketing tool. Based on what your know about your niched audience data, you can take points in common among audience members and use those to create a personality.
Let’s use a really basic example now, Busy Bob.
Busy Bob is a 40-year-old who makes $80,000 a year. He’s married and lives in a suburban home with his two kids. He often travels for business and struggles to find time to research new products and services.
I have plenty more custom avatar examples in my sponsorship proposal templates that you can browse.
You want to break down the information in the avatar to encompass their wants, frustrations, and motivations.
Keep in mind that besides the name of your avatar, you’re not making up this information. It’s an amalgamation of audience groups and their real needs, incomes, family structures, and motivations.
Why produce customer avatars? They make it very easy for the sponsor to see how your audience segments fit into their target audience.
Writing a sponsorship proposal is only half the battle. Knowing when to present it is the other half. I hope the information in this guide and the free templates I’ve made available help you shape up your sponsorship proposal and the rest of your sponsorship program for 2022!
If you find yourself struggling with your proposal or other areas of sponsorship, you can always try my free training called How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
Read More about Chris Baylis