Sponsorship Strategy Development: Spaghetti vs the Sniper

Who would win in a fight? A bowl of spaghetti or a highly trained sniper? Well, what’s true in life is true in sponsorship.

The real question is, who are you in this fight? The spaghetti or the sniper?

The Spaghetti Method of Sponsorship Sales

You’ve heard about the spaghetti method: you throw everything you have at the wall and see what sticks. Well, in the sponsorship game…nothing sticks! The spaghetti method is based on the incorrect belief that every sponsor wants a little bit of everything in your inventory.

The top level sponsors get lots of the following:

  • Logo placement
  • Product placement
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Tables and tickets
  • Exhibit space
  • E-blasts
  • Access to your audience (which is usually poorly defined)

Big sponsors must want a lot of these things right? Mid-level sponsors get 50% of the above, slightly less of everything and low-level sponsors get an even smaller amount of the above.

What happens if your sponsor doesn’t want to exhibit? And doesn’t care about branding? And only cares about thought leadership? Once they receive your sponsorship package, they will give you a call and ask you for a custom package, right?

Wrong. They throw your sponsorship proposal in the garbage and move on.

Sponsors know exactly what they want, what they want to accomplish and how they can accomplish it. It is a rare occurrence that a sponsor pushes $25,000 across the table and says “sign me up for your silver sponsorship and whatever that comes with.”

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Sponsorship Sales Like a Sniper

Here is how a sniper looks at sponsorship sales. They know exactly who their brand appeals to (their audience), they know everything about their audience and what they value, they have a giant pool of sponsorship assets and know what every single asset is worth (because they have done a market valuation of those assets).

Their secret weapon though isn’t a sniper rifle. The sponsorship sales sniper’s secret weapon is…nothing at all. When they go to a meeting, they bring nothing. When they e-mail a sponsor? They never send a sponsorship package or a one-pager or anything else that implies they want to sell their prospect something.

The sniper has perfect clarity of all of the following:

  • Their assets for sale
  • Their value
  • Their audience
  • Their prospect’s ideal customer
  • How their prospect measures success
  • How much their prospect is willing to pay for that success
  • How they will deliver on their sponsorship proposal through a well-defined activation strategy

Which Strategy Do Your Prospects Prefer?

The sniper only talks to prospects that he or she knows is a good fit and they do so with confidence, knowing they have something of value to offer their prospects. They are a partner at the table, helping their prospect connect to their customers and grow their business. Snipers don’t carry standardized sponsorship packages with them, they customize everything.

The spaghetti method is apologetic and wasteful. It asks for support instead of claiming its place at the table as a partner. The spaghetti method is messy and causes collateral damage, making your prospects not want to engage with you. The spaghetti method often manifests as a “Gold, Silver, Bronze” sponsorship package, which goes right to the garbage 95% of the time.

The typical reaction to the spaghetti method as the budget deadline approaches is to throw more and more spaghetti at the wall. Not the sniper, though. the sniper knows that prospects can tell when you’re desperate. They take their time, stay calm and wait for the perfect prospect to present itself.

When I coach clients to think of themselves as snipers, inevitably they worry that it will take too much time. The truth is when you stop thinking of every company that you can find as a prospect and focus instead on that small group of “perfect fits,” you spend less time selling sponsorship and bring in more revenue for your efforts. You will also notice something else: your sponsors come back every year because they only paid for what they wanted and got good ROI on their investment. The easiest way to make budget is to keep every sponsor you close for years. I don’t care how good the bowl of spaghetti is, it’s never good enough to keep your sponsors coming back for years.

Let’s talk spaghetti vs. sniper in my LinkedIn group – join now!

A version of this article was published by Gail Perry under the title “How to Make MUCH More Money With Event Sponsorships

Chris Baylis is a corporate sponsorship and cause marketing expert. Chris has managed the entire spectrum of the sponsorship process, raising millions of dollars for charities, associations and not for profits and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+