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Motion vs. Action

by | April 15, 2021

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If I asked you what motion is, you’d of course have a definition for me, right? But I don’t mean motion in terms of getting up out of your seat and doing something, but rather, motion in business. 

You know, stacking up your calendar with tasks and projects. When you achieve each task, you can cross off an item on your to-do list that makes you feel like you accomplished something. Yet that’s all it really is, a feeling. At the end of the day, you’re no closer to achieving your goals than you were yesterday.

Motion in sponsorship is far different than action, which is taking steps towards doing what your company has set out to accomplish with your sponsorship program. Instead of spinning in place, you’re well on your way to getting a sponsor.

In today’s post, I’ll explain motion versus action in sponsorship and why you need to prioritize the latter to see real results.

Motion in Sponsorship: Where Does It Lead You?

If motion is movement, then any kind of movement counts. That includes spinning in a circle. When you first start spinning, you feel pretty good, right? You’ve got momentum going, you can feel your heart speeding up and your muscles working. Then, before you know it, you get dizzy. 

You put in all this effort, but when you stop spinning and the dizziness subsides, you realize you didn’t move anywhere. You just spun around in the same spot. Yet spinning feels better than doing nothing, because you can say that at least you achieved something. 

In sponsorship, this kind of circular motion can cripple your sponsorship program. Tell me if you’re spending time on these activities:

  • Creating a sponsorship package, especially one with stock levels 
  • Crafting a sales letter
  • Planning activation ideas 
  • Guessing at assets rather than sitting down and evaluating them using market data

These activities have several things in common. For one, they’re mostly internal debates, and second, they don’t directly involve the sponsor at all. Yet when you do these things, it feels important, like you’re taking crucial steps to further your sponsorship program

Materials like a sponsorship package, sales letter, and activation ideas are indeed big parts of your sponsorship program and will have to be done eventually. But they don’t have to be overdone. You don’t need to debate with your team to death about what should go into a sponsorship package without any input from the sponsor themselves. 

This is only wasting your time, creative energies, and possibly your budget as well. 

Action in Sponsorship: Where the Money Is  

Instead, you need to take action. How I separate motion versus action is this. Action is any tactic that brings you closer to your goal. 

Here’s another example for you. Motion is revving your engine and spinning your wheels while the car is still in park. Action is putting the car in drive and leaving the lot.

Using the example of motion as a circle, action is a straight line or a series of lines that connect and move in a progressive direction. One step leads to the next, but linearly. You’re not debating on the same subjects, going around and around. You’re doing one task, considering it done, and moving on to the next.

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Here is what action tasks might look like in your sponsorship program:

  • Having a discovery call or meeting with a target sponsor
  • Surveying your audience
  • Putting together a sponsorship fulfillment report

Do you see how these action activities are different from motion activities? The former activities were all internal and thus involved only the members of your team. Action activities are external. Now you’re getting your audience involved. Most importantly, you’re talking to the target sponsor themselves. 

By doing these action activities, you’re pushing forward, you’re covering ground, and you’re actually achieving goals in your sponsorship program. You’re not being passive and sending sales materials hoping the sponsor might be interested. You’re calling them up and gauging their interest. That’s a big difference! 

Motion vs. Action in Sponsorship: How to Know What You’re Doing

Now that you’re clear on motion versus action, it’s time to look at your sponsorship program to determine if more of your program is guided by motion or action. Here are some questions I recommend you ask yourself.

When Did You Start Your Sponsorship Program? 

If you’ve been at this for six or nine months or even a year (or longer!) and you have yet to directly approach a single sponsor, then you’re definitely in motion. You just keep spinning and spinning, but nothing happens. 

How Far Are You in the Sponsorship Program?

In this post, I covered the anatomy of a great sponsorship program. It’s supposed to have six parts in all: audience research, defined goals, asset valuation, activation opportunities, sponsorship package, and the sponsorship proposal.

If you’re still defining your sponsorship goals or putting together an assets list, then you’re stalling out. Chipping away at your assets little by little each week might seem like you’re working up to something bigger, but it’s just more spinning in place. It’s effort and time for nothing.

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Have You Talked to the Sponsor Yet?

You’re not supposed to call up target sponsors at the beginning of your sponsorship program, but between doing audience research and putting together your sponsorship package, a conversation or several has to happen. Having a sponsor’s input can help you customize your sponsorship package so it’s its most appealing.

That’s another good example of motion versus action in your sponsorship program. Using the outdated gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship tiers is a motion activity. You’re not taking a chance and you’re certainly not involving the sponsor, you’re just putting together your sponsorship package passively and hoping it’s enough. 

Working with the sponsor directly to create a sponsorship package that’s appealing to them and lucrative to you is an action activity. 

Still Stuck in Motion? How to Identify What’s Holding You Back

Do you feel stuck in motion in your sponsorship program? You try to get the program moving, but then among your team, all you end up doing is spinning around and around in circles. You’re past feeling dizzy. You want to get something real done. 

I have a lot of clients who can’t shift from motion to action in sponsorship. There are usually a few reasons why. I want to go over those reasons with you now. Which one(s) do you most identify with?

It Feels Safe

Most people love a good routine, and you may be among them. After a while, you get used to doing such and such a task related to your sponsorship program like brainstorming among your team. It becomes a part of the routine. 

Routine is nice, but it’s also safe. If you stay within your bubble of routine, you can go months and even years without obtaining sponsorship because you’re only doing the bare minimum. 

Lack of Time 

A lot of people pursuing sponsorship have a full-time job outside of that. If it’s your goal to someday obtain sponsorship, then even if all you have time for is a discussion with your team about activation ideas, to you, it feels better than letting your goal stagnate. Yet it’s not better, and your goal is stagnating because you’re not making progress.  


Some clients of mine don’t want to start their sponsorship program until they have everything ready. Not only ready but perfect. The sponsorship proposal has to be perfect, the sales letter has to be perfect, the activation ideas have to be perfect, the assets have to be perfect. You get the picture. 

Well, I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but perfection is impossible. When a client tells me that they’re waiting until their sponsorship program is perfect before they proceed, it’s usually because they’ve gotten lulled in by the routine of it all. As I said, being in motion feels safe and productive, yet the reason it feels that way is because you’re not taking any risks. 

Scared of Rejection

Another reason you may be hiding behind the guise of perfection and getting caught up in motion activities is that you’re afraid that once you start taking action in your sponsorship program, you’ll be rejected. It’s true, you very well may be. Yet you very well may not be. The only way you’ll know is to try.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by our thoughts and anxieties that we conflate something and make it far bigger than it needs to be. Rejection sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. You can learn from your failures and come out on the other side better at sponsorship. 

Don’t be afraid to fail. Expect it and embrace it for the valuable learning opportunity it is. 

Seems Like a Financial Risk

You also feel uncomfortable putting forth time and money for what may be a fruitless venture. I’d recommend you read a case study I recently published on the blog. In that case study, I wrote about a client of mine named Mallory who was stuck in the pattern of motion in her sponsorship program. 

When she finally started taking action, in a few weeks, she was talking to a sponsor and negotiating for a five-figure deal.

Yes, sponsorship can be a financial risk, but how much money have you missed out on from lost opportunities because you didn’t want to take action? It becomes a lot harder to justify your motion-driven behaviors at that point.

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The steps you take in your sponsorship program must further your goals, not keep you spinning in place. If you feel stuck in motion, why not try my free training called How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program? With my tips and best practices for sponsorship acquisition, your company will begin taking action steps that will get you where you want to go!