Sponsorship and Donuts
Donuts. They sure are delicious, right?
From Krispy Kreme to Dunkin’, a tasty donut can be a great way to start the morning or a nice little pick-me-up in the middle of a long workday.
You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about donuts, right? Maybe I’m just hungry? Not exactly.
You see, sponsorship and donuts are more interconnected than you think. I know this sounds far-fetched now, but it won’t by the time you’re done reading this article.
A Story about My Local Donut Shop
To set the scene, allow me to tell you a little story.
In my neighborhood is a store that doesn’t keep tenants for longer than four or five months. New businesses always pop up when the old one leaves, but they too don’t last for very long.
The type of business that always seems to set up shop here is bakeries. I was out recently for a leisurely Sunday drive when I saw a sign for what I assumed was another bakery. But it wasn’t.
It was a donut shop.
This made me stop and think for a moment. You would assume that if a bakery that sold all nature of desserts–donuts included–couldn’t hack it in this location, then why would a donut shop fare any better?
It turns out, I was wrong, way wrong.
On opening day, the line for the donut shop was around the block, which was astounding to me. In all the years I’ve seen businesses come and go in this location, they never got such a turnout.
This wasn’t a case of all hype, no substance. Several months later, the line for this donut shop was still wrapped around the block.
I found that very fascinating and I still do. The success of that donut shop inspired this post today.
The Importance of Having a Specialty in Sponsorship
I’m sure you’re still wondering, what could all this talk about donuts have to do with sponsorship? Now it’s time to get to that.
You see, many sponsorship seekers like to fashion themselves as a jack of all trades type of person. You want logos? They’ll do logos. You want speaking arrangements? Sure, they’ll provide speaking arrangements. You need an interactive event booth? You’ve got it.
I can understand why you want to seem like you’re good at everything, especially to a sponsor. You want to fulfill any and every need they have. If it seems like there’s a service you can’t provide, then the sponsor might choose not to work with you.
So you put together a shoddy-looking logo because you don’t have much graphic design experience. Your interactive event booth isn’t exactly awe-inspiring either. Everything is just kind of so-so.
That’s the downside of being a jack of all trades type. You’re okay at many things, but you’re not great at anything.
Relating this to my story in the last section, that’s why I think those bakeries failed. Like I said before, they sold all sorts of desserts, everything from cakes to cookies, pies, cheesecakes, you name it, they’ve got it. Yet none of their baked goods were amazing. All were just okay.
Then this donut shop comes in. All they offer is donuts. Why? Because they’re really good at making donuts, and it shows. People line up in droves, not just on opening day, but for months afterward.
I say this a lot on the blog, but it’s something I always want aspiring sponsorship seekers to keep in mind. The niches are in the riches.
This donut shop knew that. That’s why they only focused on donuts.
I usually say the niches are in the riches in the context of niching down your audience. Yet you can also apply this saying to your own sponsorship services.
If you know that logos aren’t your strong suit, then why offer them? (Besides that logos are a very low-value asset, which is neither here nor there in this example.) Why wouldn’t you find an asset that you know you’re excellent at and offer that to sponsors instead?
I know it seems like doubling down on your skills instead of offering 200 assets is the wrong approach to take in your sponsorship program. Trust me, it isn’t.
Here’s the thing about sponsorship. Sponsors want outcomes. They don’t care as much if you need to use assets A, B, C, D, and Y to get there or just asset A, as long as you achieve their objectives (oh, and you’re not ridiculously over budget).
When you’re really good at asset A but not so much at assets B, C, D, and Y, you risk not delivering on the promises you made to the sponsor. Then the sponsor, unsurprisingly, doesn’t want to work with you again.
How to Find Your Niche
I want you to find your donut, so to speak, or that strong point in sponsorship that can be your biggest help in making more sponsorship sales.
How do you find your niche? Here’s what I recommend.
Take away the context of sponsorship for a moment. What does your company or organization excel at? What are you best known for?
Maybe you’re renowned for connecting with your audience. If so, then congratulations. Understanding your audience and being able to meaningfully connect with them is one of the best sponsorship assets you can have.
Once you divide your audience into niches, it becomes a lot easier to market your audience niches to sponsorship prospects.
Perhaps you’re a social media superstar. You haven’t had any posts go viral, but your content gets healthy engagement, including views, shares, likes, and comments. This happens every time you post too.
If a sponsor needs help with social media, you could be the one to bridge that gap for them.
Those are some examples of many. Even if what you’re good at doesn’t immediately seem like a sponsorship asset, it could possibly be finagled into one. Take a look at this post to see the multitude of assets that sponsors are usually interested in.
I can’t guarantee that your prospect will want those exact assets. The best way to gauge which assets most interest the sponsor is to ask.
Once you know where your strong suit lies, I want you to focus on it, really focus on it, and finesse it in every way possible. You want to be the very best at whatever this skill is. When you’ve reached that milestone, sponsorship prospects will be a lot more interested in working with you.
When you approach sponsorship prospects, you don’t want to be the person who’s willing to do anything and everything no matter what it is. I know you think this makes you sound good to sponsors, but all it does is put you in a bind.
You’ll be stuck in a situation where you can’t meet expectations because you’re only okay at half the things you said you would do for the sponsor.
Instead, you want to know where your strong suits are and then maximize those strengths to achieve more of a sponsor’s objectives. Challenge yourself to focus on one product and to do it better than anybody else.
If you need to work on other areas of your sponsorship approach before finding what you’re good at, I highly recommend my free training called How to Grow Your Sponsorship Program. You’ll learn the current models of sponsorship acquisition. I also have a nine-part blueprint sure to fuel growth in your sponsorship program!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.