Everything is digital these days, from communication to clothing. It was only a matter of time before the digital onslaught trickled down to sponsorship, and those days are upon us.
Technology has a way of making everything easier. We don’t even physically have to go grocery shopping, and best of all, we can get the groceries delivered to our doorsteps without seeing or interacting with our delivery driver face-to-face.
Sponsorship prospecting also benefits from the growth of technology. The digital data and tools at your fingertips can make you more efficient at prospecting.
How so? I’m glad you asked! Join me as I take you through the top tools to use to build your prospecting prowess, with best practices on how to manage all this technology at your fingertips.
The Best Digital Tools for Sponsorship Prospecting
You know what they say: tools make the man. Okay, so the line is clothes instead of tools, but we’re living in the 21st century. Digital tools are as important as ever.
With such a bounty available, your head can spin as you try to narrow your options. Fortunately, I’m here to make it easy for you.
The following five tools will augment your sponsorship prospecting, assisting with data extrapolation, audience communications, reporting, and event planning.
CRM is short for customer relationship management. I recognize that not all sponsors have customers. Some of you will have attendees or donors. Here’s the great part – CRM still works!
Here is a rundown of features a good CRM software has. Tell me how many of these will be handy for prospecting. The answer should be most!
- Contact management: You must have your finger on the pulse of your audience, finding the traits of your customers/donors/attendees that match the sponsor’s target audience. That starts with managing your growing contacts. A CRM will keep all your contacts in one place, combining data from multiple resources, such as email, phone, and social media DM.
- Lead management: CRM is awesome at identifying high-quality leads. If you think of your sponsorship prospects as leads, you can rely on a CRM to point you in the right direction. You should still do your own due diligence, of course, to rule out prospects, but a CRM can guide you in the right direction.
- Mobile functionality: Everything is mobile these days, including your CRM. You can take your audience insights on the go, generating new ones as required.
- Workflows: Collaborate with other members of your company or organization, assigning and approving tasks. You can set who has admin rights within the CRM to protect privacy.
- File storage: Upload pertinent files in your CRM and share them with others on your team or the sponsor’s side.
You must have audience data to begin prospecting, as their favorite brands become your hottest prospects. I always recommend using a survey to generate this data.
A survey maker will produce appealing, highly responsive surveys in minutes. You put the information in, and the tool will do the rest.
You can ask complex questions with branching logic (although I don’t recommend that for a simple audience survey), use survey templates or create your own, incorporate multimedia (again, I don’t recommend it for an audience survey, but it’s still cool), and select from multiple types of answers.
Some survey makers even have multilingual support.
The third tool to incorporate into your sponsorship prospecting plans is email automation software.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but running an event requires sending a lot of emails. Once you begin prospecting for sponsors, you’ll send far more than ever, as you might communicate with many companies before one agrees to a discovery session.
I recommend following an email cadence to ensure you give your prospects ample time to respond. You should send a combination of emails and phone calls over seven days, starting with one person in the target company’s sponsorship division and moving on down the line from there.
Using email software allows you to automate this cadence. You can also automate emails to your event attendees, your vendors, your coworkers – anybody!
Email automation couldn’t be easier to use. You can build automation workflows with drag-and-drop tools. Once you activate the workflow, your emails will go out at specific times or according to the triggers you select.
Using the email cadence as an example, you can set up an email automation workflow where you send a second email 24 hours after the first and then another email after that.
You might already have a marketing tool depending on whether you’re a business or an organization, but if you don’t, I recommend it for one thing: segmentation.
Okay, two things, as most marketing tools also have email automation. But primarily for segmentation.
Sponsors need niche audience data. I always mention this on the blog, but it seems like a good opportunity to bring it up again. You must divide your audience by the finest, most granular segments you can humanly imagine.
I always tell my clients that it’s not too far to segment your attendees or customers by $5,000 or $10,000 income brackets or specific job titles within an industry.
Sponsors want to see that highly specific data. It might seem too much like splitting hairs to you, but I promise you, it isn’t.
The more refined and detailed your audience data, the easier it is for a sponsor to review your audience makeup and determine which segments are a natural fit for their target audience.
Marketing tools with segmentation capabilities can get you started. I doubt you’ll be able to segment with as much specificity as sponsorship requires, but the segmented lists will get you started, saving you hours.
Event Management Software
If you’re an event host, may I recommend event management software? Although this is less about sponsorship prospecting, it will still help throughout the sponsorship arrangement.
Here are some features you can use within this tool:
- Event registration: Track signups, ticket sales, and registrations as they happen so you have a more accurate head count closer to your event. You can use this information when prospecting for other sponsors, proving that your event is a draw.
- Event marketing: Promoting your event is a pain but must be done. Event management tools have promotional and marketing features to spread the word about your event and drive up attendance.
- Budget management: Track your event budget within an event management tool, ensuring you’re only spending what your company or organization can afford without dipping into the red.
- Event scheduling: Build an event schedule or timeline, previewing this information slowly to attendees on social media or in a drip email campaign.
- Reporting: Event analytics and reporting are the most valuable parts of event management software for sponsorship purposes. You can curate unique data you can show your sponsor to renegotiate a deal. You can also create case studies based on this data to attract future sponsors.
Tips for Using Digital Data and Other Measures for Sponsorship Prospecting
As you contemplate which digital tools can assist you most with sponsorship prospecting and beyond, I implore you to weigh the following points carefully.
Don’t Jump In Over Your Head
Technology is awesome. I think I’ve lauded it enough in this post. However, with so much of it, you must make sure you have a thorough understanding of the tools and software you select.
Don’t try to use functions or features for the fun of it. You have a sponsorship you’re trying to secure and an event you’re trying to run. Complicating matters will only create more work and headaches for you later.
Determine Your Goals
In fact, the way I recommend you determine which of these tools will behoove you the most in your sponsorship efforts is to narrow your goals.
For example, if you already have a survey process, you probably don’t need a survey tool. I would recommend focusing your efforts on a CRM or event management tool.
Here’s another example for you. If you don’t have a large email list because your event is new or small, you’re probably not yet at the stage where you need email automation tools. That will come, but in the meantime, you’re wasting your time and money automating when you can manage email tasks yourself.
Stick Within Your Budget
You must have a digital prospecting budget, even if you roll marketing and advertising into the software you select.
Only you can decide what an appropriate budget is for you, but most companies dedicate at least 10 percent of their income toward marketing and as much as 15 percent in some industries.
Once you ascertain your budget, do all you can to stay within it. Overspending can hurt your event profitability.
Check Your Automation Workflows
Email and marketing automation workflows are not set-it-and-forget-it. You must manage the workflows, checking them from time to time to ensure they’re still accomplishing your goals and behaving as you intended.
Use Technology As Needed
Life is better when we reduce the technology, not add more. There is such a thing as technology fatigue caused by overuse of tech. The human touch will always reign supreme, even in an age of AI.
Your audience will appreciate that human touch, as will your prospects and, later, your sponsors. By all means, use tools to segment your audience and send surveys, but maybe stop short of having the tool write the surveys or emails for you.
After all, even technology is imperfect!
The Future of Sponsorship Prospecting Is Bright
Prospecting will always remain the most surefire strategy for finding quality sponsors. Technology will augment those efforts into the future as it does now, and while I welcome that, make sure not to let technology dominate all your decisions!
- About the Author
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
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