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The Most Powerful Asset in Sponsorship

There is one thing that every single sponsorship property has to offer that every single sponsor wants…and very few sponsorship seekers realize they have it.

What is this magical thing that will make your sponsorship sales so much easier?

I’m going to tell you…but first a story!

From “No Thanks” to “Sign Me Up!”

A friend and colleague of mine recently told me a story.  The “I” in the story below is actually Mena Gainpaulsingh, fundraising genius over at Purposeful Fundraising.

I was in a meeting with the prospect of a client who had agreed to be interviewed by me in order to help my client develop their fundraising strategy. It’s very important to include your prospects in the process and this sponsor was happy to oblige.

When I say sponsor, I really mean prospect since this particular company hadn’t put any cash on the table but was close to the organization and their board of directors.

After 20 minutes of getting to know my prospect and his needs I asked him “why have you never sponsored this property?” Straight to the point! His reply? The typical “we have no money for sponsorship, purse strings are tight, limited ROI etc.”

So, I reframed the question and instead of calling it “sponsorship” I asked him “What if we could fill a room with your target market and your most desired customers? And what if you could invest some of your business development money to host them in a private VIP event, just you and them, chatting about their goals, getting to know them in a laid-back environment and then run a contest to get them to give you their contact information for a future cup of coffee?”

His reply?

“Well, that’s different! I have a budget for exactly that type of thing. If you could do something like that for me, I could approve $25,000 as a starting point by the end of the week.”

Mena shared this story with me as proof that a sponsor-centric approach to revenue generation is the best, maybe even the only, way to raise money.

Those of you who are in the sponsorship space know that the scenario Mena described above is a textbook activation idea for those who are trying to connect with high value business to business audiences.

When you call it “sponsorship” your prospect loses interest. When you describe a solution to your prospect’s chief problem and an opportunity to get in front of their target audience, they’re all ears.

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Sponsorship Sales is all About Them, Not You

What does this have to do with the most powerful sponsorship asset on the market today? Everything, of course.

In order to engage in sponsorship sales, you have to know everything there is to know about your audience, their needs, their problems, their goals, why they interact with you and why they care about the work you do.

Then you need to meet with the companies who care about that audience and rather than trying to sell “sponsorship” as your chief objective, your goal is to get to know your prospect’s needs, goals, target market, what they want to achieve and what drives them nuts.

Then, you simply offer your prospect access to your most valuable asset…your audience. But you offer it only in way that adds value to your audience (hint: it isn’t logo placement and signage!), in a way that adds value to your sponsor and in a way that adds value to your organization. This is how you build sponsorship relationships that last for years, that you can measure and that make your audience happy to be part of your event or your organization.

The Power of Audience Data in Sponsorship

Do you want to see your sponsor jump out of his chair and offer you money? Go to your next meeting with nothing in your hands, no sponsorship package or one pagers, and ask them about their goals, their target market and how they get new customers.

When the time is right to talk about your audience, you will know. If you don’t have your prospect’s target audience, don’t try to sell them a sponsorship package. Instead, ask them who in their network they think would have interest in your audience and turn a “no thanks” into a handful of referrals.


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