Sponsorship Package Essentials
Virtually everyone I speak to about sponsorship thinks of the sponsorship package as the most important part of the sponsorship process. I don’t know how this belief came to be but I do know this- nothing could be further from the truth! In fact I would go so far as to say that the sponsorship package is the least important part of the sponsorship transaction.
How can I claim such sacrilege to be true? After all, everyone uses the shotgun approach to sponsorship, right? “Once they hear about the great work we are doing and see all of the great branding options, how can they say no”…right? Wrong.
The Death of the “Gold, Silver and Bronze” Sponsorship Package
The old-school approach of creating one package with 3 levels is exactly that, old-school. If you are not building custom sponsorship packages for every sponsor, you are leaving money on the table. Hoping that your sponsors will read a 10 page sponsorship package and send you a cheque will not work. You absolutely need to be co-creating your sponsorship packages with your prospects before you submit a final proposal.
Sponsorship and..Air Conditioning?
Imagine yourself shopping for a new air conditioner for your home (I just went through this process, hence the seemingly random example!). You call the AC company and instead of them asking you what you are looking for they send you a 30 page catalogue outlining every service they offer. They expect you to know exactly what you want and they expect you to go through the package yourself and for you to phone them when you are ready to make your purchase.
What is the likely result? Almost certainly that you will go somewhere else to someone who will engage you in a consultative sales process. You want someone to determine your square footage, southern window exposure, humidifier needs, electrical, proper disposal of your old equipment etc. You want them to teach you how to use the AC to its fullest potential and avoid hidden costs you hadn’t thought of. This was my experience with my AC company and I was spending nowhere near what we ask our sponsors to spend on a sponsorship package!
If you are interested in sponsorship then you are selling a marketing product and you have to be ready to prove your value, know your customer, determine their needs and most of all, you have to be ready to compete with all of the other groups out there who are using a relationship based approach to sponsorship sales.
How to get Sponsorship
We all know that when a prospect tells us to “send me your sponsorship package” they are politely telling us “no thanks.” When you start with the sponsorship package, you are going right to “no.” You are making it really easy for a prospect to turn you down, and who could blame them! They see thousands of these every year and leading with a proposal proves that you probably aren’t ready to build a custom package and engage in a smart activation and fulfillment strategy.
I worked with one national brand who told me that they received 10,000 requests per month from charities alone. Stop and take that in: 10,000 every single month. Maybe they were being dramatic to prove a point but still! They had a department that did nothing but say “no” all day long. Add to that all of the for profit companies asking for their marketing dollars (TV, bus ads, magazines, radio, sport arenas) and your proposal has no chance. We were at the table because we started the process with a warm lead and a conversation about what they need and then we proved to them that we could help them meet those needs- the proposal was an afterthought.
Depressed? Don’t be! This series is designed to give you what you need to stand above the rest. What’s really depressing is spending all of your time on a “gold, silver, bronze” sponsorship package and missing budget with no time to recover.
How to Create a Sponsorship Package
Here are some tips to get you ready to engage prospects without using the old school method of shotgun blasting a single package to hundreds of contacts. Use the method below and I guarantee you that you will see your close rate go through the roof.
Tip #1: Build an inventory!
Dissect your programs, events, company etc. to determine what has value and what you are comfortable selling to sponsors. Think beyond logos. Do you have speaking opportunities to offer? How about lending your logo to a product or service? Create a list of everything you could offer so that when a prospect asks you are ready to talk about more than simple branding opportunities.
Tip #2: Create a menu, not levels!
Once you know all of the things you offer, catalogue them in a central place and use them as an opportunity to offer prospects unique opportunities beyond a traditional sponsorship package. Listen to what appeals to them and ask them questions about why they like a certain type of opportunity. Brainstorm with your prospects and ask questions.
Tip #3: Sell value, not price!
You absolutely must determine what your assets are worth (a huge topic, and a complicated one) but you want to create a package that outlines your solutions, the strength of your brand and your ability to help prospects achieve their goal. If you create a package focused on price and not value then you are asking your prospects to focus on price.
Tip #4: Have conversations, lots of conversations!
Work with your prospect to pick the right combination of items based on their budget and their goals and pool them together to determine what level they fall under- assuming of course you even need levels. Events lend themselves well to things like title sponsorship and several other levels but there is no rule book dictating that it must be this way. If you must use levels, let the prospect pick the things that work for them rather than trying to fit them into a logo placement and exhibit booth that has no value to them.
An Expensive Mistake
I was in a role that required me to sell sponsorship to pharmaceutical companies, often in the 100-200K range. After a while I thought I had seen it all and started to slip back into the one size fits all approach, sending a standard package to everyone rather treating each prospect with the respect they deserved. I followed up with a prospect after promising them that I would slap their logo on everything sure I would make the sale. They politely told me that branding was at the bottom of their list of priorities. They said that they were the only company who made the drugs to treat disease X and their biggest marketing problem was that this disease was being misdiagnosed. Once diagnosed properly, their drug was the only one prescribed so logo placement had little value.
I lost out on a huge opportunity for my organization, was embarrassed in front of my boss and was reminded of a valuable lesson. The following year I met with them for coffee to learn more abut their marketing goals and how they thought I could help them achieve those goals. I won the account! What about the proposal? In this case, they didn’t need or want one. This was one of my biggest sponsorship sales that year and a proposal never left my hands. It was all about the relationship and the process of engaging the sponsor.
Should you send sponsorship packages and proposals? Absolutely! Should you lead with a proposal? Only if you want to get to “no” as quickly as possible. If your goal is to get a “yes” then you have to get to know your prospects, find out what keeps them awake at night and send them something so perfectly tailored to them that they can’t say no.
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.