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Our Sponsorship Opportunity is Different 

by | April 20, 2023

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

You might have read so many sponsorship articles and even books that you can recite entire passages in your sleep. Yet the problem you run into time and again is that your sponsorship properties are unique enough that generalized advice doesn’t apply to you.

In this post, I’ll explain further the predicament of having a unique sponsorship property and what it means for your sponsorship program’s success. Check it out! 

When Unique Isn’t Unique at All 

First, I’m going to have to bring you down to earth a bit.

Every sponsorship seeker has something unique to offer prospective sponsors, and it’s all about finding what it is. But you have to accept that your angle of thinking that you’re special or unique is in itself not unique at all.

In fact, I get hundreds of calls from sponsorship seekers looking for my advice that tell me the same thing. Their sponsorship opportunities are special, they’re unique. They’re different.

So, I ask them different how? Namely, different from what exactly?   

The response I get is always the same. “Well, we’re not like other sponsorship seekers.”

Then I have to ask them what that means. The client will usually tell me about their sponsorship problem. And then this is where I have to burst their bubble.

You see, the problem these supposedly unique clients have are the same issues that many first-time sponsorship seekers face. 

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This might sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. It means these clients can take my advice and other sponsorship best practices, apply them, and truly see growth and success in their sponsorship program.

The problem is when best practices don’t apply to your sponsorship program. You see, it isn’t that your sponsorship properties are too unique, it’s that you’re doing something wrong. 

Although it usually takes a bit of poking and prodding on my end, when I ask my clients what they mean when they say their sponsorship opportunity is too special, the truth usually comes out.

What they’re really saying is that they don’t have audience data, or they have no idea how to go about coming up with activation ideas. They don’t know the worth of their brand, so they’re struggling to value their assets. They reach out to sponsors and don’t hear back. Their sales material is lacking. 

And you know what? That’s fine! These issues are all ones that I’ve helped thousands of sponsorship seekers overcome. I could help you too. 

The Problem with Trying to Stand Out Too Much

I always say on this blog that for every sponsorship prospect on your list, there are dozens if not hundreds and sometimes even thousands of other companies or organizations trying to secure that sponsor as well.

It’s sort of like a job interview for a really popular position or tryouts for a play or a sports team. You know that people desperately want that role you’re seeking.

How do you catch the attention of the hiring manager or the sports manager or even a sponsorship prospect? By standing out from the competition.

This is good advice, at least to a point. 

I’ll never disagree that you must have something one-of-a-kind that you bring to the table in sponsorship. The problem arises when you focus so much on whatever that one-of-a-kind thing is that it’s to the detriment of other areas of your sponsorship program.

Let me tell you what I mean by that. Sponsorship is a partnership. It’s a two-way street. When your head is so full of yourself, that leaves very little room for anything else, such as the needs of your sponsor or the needs of your audience. 

Being unique can catch a sponsor’s attention, but it’s not enough to get you through a sponsorship program successfully. 

If anything, thinking too highly of yourself can trip you up in key areas. You might overcharge on your assets because your company is just so different that you can’t price your assets as low as everyone else does. 

Your activation ideas might be self-centered. You only come up with ways to make your company look good rather than the sponsor. When the sponsor brings up ideas, you’re not willing to implement them because your sponsorship program is just so special that the sponsor couldn’t understand. 

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You see where I’m going with this? You come across as an egomaniac and the sponsor will be eager for your event to happen so they don’t have to work with you again.

I’d bet that you also underdelivered on the sponsor’s metrics because you weren’t paying attention to what they wanted and needed. Your ego was in the way. 

How to Shift the Focus in Sponsorship to the Sponsor

Now that you understand how parading your uniqueness can be a disadvantage in sponsorship, how do you change your mindset to accommodate for the sponsor as well? Here are some of my best tips.

Listen to Your Sponsor

Are you one of those people who, while someone else is talking, you’re half-listening, half-planning what you’ll say next? You can’t do that and expect a successful sponsorship deal to materialize.

I’ll say it again: sponsorship is a partnership. It’s a relationship. Imagine how your friends or spouse would feel if while they were talking, you were essentially just waiting for them to shut up so you could talk. You wouldn’t have friends or a spouse for very long.

Why should our professional relationships be any different? When you’re not listening to what your sponsor is saying, you’re failing to understand their problems and their needs. 

You’re also failing to have a conversation. A conversation entails one person speaking, the other person listening, and then that person replying based on what they hear. With your approach, you’re practically talking over your sponsor. There’s a huge communication disconnect.

The next time you speak to your sponsorship prospects, be that on the phone or in person, keep your ears open and don’t say anything until it’s your turn. Tell yourself to focus on what’s being said rather than mentally planning your response. 

The conversation will be much more fruitful, I’ll tell you that!  

Ask What the Sponsor Needs

Sponsors usually aren’t like a book of hieroglyphics. That said, sometimes a sponsor can use business jargon or speak ambiguously, so maybe you’re not quite as clear on their needs as you wish you were.

In a situation like that, you have two options. You can a.) go about your sponsorship program not sure what the sponsor needs and hoping it all works out or b.) ask the sponsor to be clearer.

I’d vote for option B every time.

Most sponsors will have zero issues with reiterating themselves or explaining something in more detail if it will help you do your job better. The sponsor is counting on you to deliver the objectives you promised, after all. They don’t want you to fail. Remember, you’re supposed to be a team! 

Actively Brainstorm Solutions 

Earlier, I mentioned that when many sponsorship seekers tell me they’re different, they usually mean that they’re struggling in certain areas of their sponsorship program.

Maybe you’re having a hard time creating activation ideas or arranging your assets in a sponsorship menu. If so, don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Sponsors will gladly welcome the chance to customize these areas of your sponsorship program with their involvement. 

I always encourage my clients to get the sponsor involved when they can. Sponsors can give you activation ideas that you maybe never would have thought of on your own. Since they understand their own problems inside and out, their activations might be better suited to their own needs than your ideas would have been.

Granted, you don’t have to use every suggestion the sponsor gives you, from activations to sponsorship menus or anything else. It’s your event at the end of the day, and it needs to feel like your event.

Feel free as well to spin off an idea based on suggestions the sponsor gives you. This way, you can retain some creative control and the sponsor’s idea still gets implemented in some way. Everyone wins! 

Measure ROI 

As your event wraps up, the metrics will begin rolling in. You can’t ignore KPIs such as tickets sold, unique web visitors, or ROI. You have to face the music sooner or later since you must compile a fulfillment report to prove to the sponsor how well you did.

Maybe you underperformed, which does happen. If so, rather than evading it, you have to sit down and ask yourself why. Was your audience data not niched down enough? Was audience attendance lower than your projections? Did your activations not live up to the hype?

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Although underperforming will nix that sponsorship relationship, failure is a valuable learning opportunity. By understanding your failures, you can strengthen your sponsorship program for the next opportunity. 


Many sponsorship seekers I work with claim that their sponsorship property is unique or different. This is usually a codeword for saying the sponsorship seeker has no idea what they’re doing. 

My free training called How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program can be a great start in helping you overcome your sponsorship issues. Whether you struggle with activations, gathering audience data, or assets, you’ll get a lot of great information out of that program. Sign up today!