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Launching Your Sponsorship Program 

by | January 31, 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

By this time in the year, those shiny New Year’s resolutions you made feel like forever ago. You were motivated for a little while, but as you got back into old routines and schedules, your motivation slipped.

If one of your goals this year is to launch your sponsorship program, now is no time to think about giving up! Not even close. 

In today’s post, I’ll share some of my top tactics from my private Sponsorship Collective Facebook training group that you can apply immediately. Your sponsorship program should begin taking shape.

Let’s get started!

Introducing My Nine-Part Sponsorship Blueprint + How to Use It 

In my sponsorship programs through the Sponsorship Collective, I have what I like to call the Sponsorship Blueprint. You can check that out here.

The Sponsorship Blueprint is a nine-step process for establishing your sponsorship program. If you haven’t seen it before, here are the nine steps:

  1. Define your offering
  2. Identify your audience
  3. Create activations
  4. Find your value
  5. Bundling strategies
  6. Develop a proposal
  7. Identify prospects
  8. Build connections
  9. Launch a partnership and measure the ROI

I put together this Sponsorship Blueprint to give you actionable steps to take to get your sponsorship program off to a good start. There’s no guessing which step comes next because it’s all outlined for you.

Plus, with the multitude of resources available on this blog, you can learn more about any of the above topics–from creating assets to activations and relationship-building–so you know just how to approach every step.

However, the nine-part Sponsorship Blueprint is not intended to be a checklist of things you need to complete in a month. I know you can feel like you’ve lost a lot of valuable time if you took a while away from your sponsorship program, but you need to breathe too. 

Rushing back into things and giving yourself unattainable deadlines is going to cause burnout.

As I always say on the blog, many sponsorship seekers don’t deal with sponsorship full-time or even part-time. They have nine-to-five jobs, careers in a variety of industries, not to mention a personal life that pulls them in a multitude of directions as well. 

So how do I recommend you use the Sponsorship Blueprint? Besides as a guidepost to help if you’re stuck in your sponsorship program, I suggest you look over all nine parts of the blueprint and see where your current sponsorship program is weakest.

I know that pointing out weaknesses is never fun, but you won’t get very far with your sponsorship goals if you’re not willing to be honest with yourself. 

I have a great post on the blog about identifying and overcoming your sponsorship bottlenecks that ought to help at this stage. Please give it a read. Whether you have issues with audience data or activations, there’s great information in that post for you. 

A Note on Skipping Steps

I know it can be super incentivizing to skip a step or two in the Sponsorship Blueprint. Perhaps one of the tasks seems too difficult or you simply don’t have the time (or inclination). 

And hey, maybe skipping is exactly what you decide to do because that’s what time allows. You could get results from the Sponsorship Blueprint if you skip steps, but they won’t be quality sponsorship prospects.

Let me put it to you this way. Imagine you’re a baker and a client asks you for a multi-tiered cake. You decide to skip adding supports because you don’t have time. You put the cake together and it stands, at least for a few minutes. Then it falls apart.

Why? Because you skipped crucial steps.

The Sponsorship Blueprint is nine parts because those are what’s required for a successful sponsorship program. If you could obtain quality sponsors in only six steps, then the Sponsorship Blueprint would be six steps instead of nine.

For the best results, I don’t recommend jumping around the nine steps or picking and choosing what you think seems best. Follow all nine steps in order.

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Your Most Burning Sponsorship Program Questions Answered

You’re about to embark on the beginning of your sponsorship program through the help of my Sponsorship Blueprint. Along the way, you may have questions. 

If you’re a member of my Facebook group or you select one of my training courses, I and my team offer one-on-one support. That can help for very specific issues that arise on a case-by-case basis in sponsorship.

For more general sponsorship program questions, I assembled this FAQs section. I hope it will act as a valuable resource as your sponsorship program gets underway.

Can I Resume My Sponsorship Program Even If It’s Been Years Since I Last Worked on It?

Lots of my clients have dabbled in sponsorship before. They try it, usually without guidance, and it doesn’t work out, so they shelve their future sponsorship aspirations. 

If your sponsorship program has fallen by the wayside as well, the good news is that you can resume it anytime. Maybe if it’s been decades since you last wrote a sponsorship proposal, it’s worth brushing up on new methods and tactics. 

As it stands, my winning sponsorship program formula hasn’t changed for a while. 

Sure, maybe someday some new technology will come into the picture that turns everything on its head. At the time of this writing though, the nine parts of my Sponsorship Blueprint are applicable from top to bottom.

That said, some things as related to your sponsorship program can expire. Audience data is chief among them. 

I recommend surveying your audience at least once every six months. This ensures not only that you understand your audience, but that the information you have on them accommodates their current needs and pain points. 

Your list of sponsorship prospects might have an expiration date too depending on how long it’s been since you’ve touched your sponsorship program. 

You might want to go through your list of prospects to double-check that every company is still in business. For the ones that are, confirm that they still work in the same area or niche that garnered your interest in the first place.  

My Audience Data Is Very General. Is It Worth Surveying My Audience Again?

I say this in my Sponsorship Blueprint and related materials, and I always mention it on the blog as well. Your audience is your biggest and most valuable asset to sponsors. 

As the centerpiece, you want your audience data to look as good as possible. That requires your data to be current, yes, but niched down as well. 

If you’ve read the blog to catch up on what’s going on in the world of sponsorship, then you might have heard me using the saying that the riches are in the niches. 

What does this mean? Sponsors salivate over hyper-specific audience data because it’s a lot easier to plan for how your audience segments could assimilate into the sponsor’s audience.

For instance, if you tell your sponsor that you have a large audience segment of 30-to-40 east coast homeowners earning $80,000 a year, that doesn’t give the sponsor a lot of information to work with. 

Are these people men or women? Are they in their early 30s or late 30s? Those can feel like two drastically different life stages for some people.

Now, picture telling your sponsor that one audience segment is mid-30s men in the Boston area who earn $80,000 a year. That information is much more specific. Your sponsor doesn’t have to ask as many questions about your audience segment because it’s all laid out for them. 

The sponsor can tell right off the bat whether that segment is appealing to them according to their target audience. 

To recap then, yes, it’s always worth surveying your audience to get more detailed, niched-down data out of them! 

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My Sponsorship Prospects Never Reply. What Do I Do?

You think you’re doing this whole sponsorship thing right. You do your research and prepare your materials, but when the time comes to contact a sponsorship prospect, that’s when things go dead.

You either never receive an email reply, or you call and call the front desk but can’t get in touch with the right party. If you do by chance get forwarded to the right phone line, they don’t answer, and you have to leave a voicemail. 

There are several mistakes you could be making with your sponsorship program that’s causing this radio silence. 

Sending your sponsorship proposal before the prospect asks for it is a big one. If all your emails include the proposal as an attachment, that could explain why no one replies to your emails.

Here’s another huge mistake that could hinder your sponsorship program. If your offering doesn’t solve a sponsor’s problems or fulfill a need, then they’re not going to bother getting back to you. Your assets must serve a purpose.

How you contact your sponsorship prospects matters too. If you’re filling out a contact form on their website, or even a sponsorship form on the site, you’re one of hundreds of thousands of people who are doing the same. 

That’s not to say you’re the only one who has the prospect’s email address, but going the direct route is always better than sending a contact form into the ether and hoping for a reply.

Is E-Blasting Ever a Good Idea in Sponsorship?

After spending days to weeks researching your sponsorship prospects, you’re rightfully exhausted. You have a list of 40 or 60 like companies, so can’t you just send them all the same cookie-cutter message? Ideally at the same time through an e-blast?

I can’t think of a single situation where I’d recommend e-blasting sponsorship prospects. 

E-blasts strip away all the individuality an email should have. You can’t write anything to personalize the message because that doesn’t apply to all your recipients. 

You already got very far if you’re identifying your prospects (that’s step seven of nine in my Sponsorship Blueprint). It will take more time to go through and contact each prospect individually, but it’s what I’d recommend. 

Don’t take all your hard work and throw it away by e-blasting! 

My Sponsor Gave Me a Vague Answer. What Does It Mean?

Sometimes it feels like you need a language translator when speaking to sponsorship prospects. 

In some cases, you can hear what you think is great news. Maybe your prospect tells you “I’d love to hear more. Can you send me a proposal?”

Awesome, you think! This is finally the green light you’ve been waiting for to mail out your sponsorship proposal. 

Yet these kinds of comments can be misleading. As I wrote about here, sponsors–like many people–will say something vaguely pleasing even if they have no intention of following up with you again. 

They’re trying to evade conflict. It’s easier for them to say yes, they’re maybe interested than to tell you no, they hate your sponsorship assets, and please don’t contact them again. The latter comment will almost certainly lead to conflict.

In these cases where you aren’t sure where you stand, I recommend following up with the sponsor. Their response or lack thereof will be a lot more telling. 

In the meantime, keep prospecting for other sponsors. 

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How Do I Know If I Have a Good Asset or Activation? 

This is one of the most burning questions my clients always ask me. What makes a good asset? What about activations?

Here’s my answer. The best assets and activations are the ones sponsors identify as such.

I know, that sounds extremely vague, but it has to be. Every sponsorship program is different, which means you’ll sell the sponsor various assets and activations. 

In some sponsorship programs, Asset A could be highly valuable, but for another sponsorship program, Asset A wouldn’t matter as much.

I recommend using market research to price your assets, then work with the sponsor to determine which assets go into your sponsorship menu. A custom approach ensures the sponsor is happy with your offerings. That usually makes them more willing to pay, FYI.

As for activations, a good activation fulfills one need of your audience and one need of your sponsor. If your event has several activations, these should each fulfill a need. 

That means an activation idea doesn’t have to cost several hundred thousand dollars or be highly intricate. You can spend $10 on an activation if it fulfills the correct needs. 

Customize your activations with your sponsor as well. 

Is Sponsorship Renewal Always Necessary? 

Sponsorship renewal is the post-event phase where you pursue a sponsor for repeat engagement. 

While I recommend it a lot for my clients, there are some instances in which sponsorship renewal might not be something you want to pursue. 

If one or both parties felt the working relationship was lacking, then by all means, don’t feel like you have to renew anything with that sponsor. You should also rethink working together again if they didn’t deliver on the promised metrics. 


You can always pick up and dust off your sponsorship program even if you’ve neglected it for several years. This time, you’ll have a tried and true blueprint to follow so you can take more surefooted steps to success!