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Things Sponsors Say: “We Don’t do Sponsorship”

by | March 2, 2020

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

We’ve all heard it from our prospects, that “we don’t do sponsorship anymore.”

How can this be?

Sponsorship spending is at an all-time high, is more nuanced than ever before and is more effective and measurable than at any point in the past.

Sponsorship encompasses all disciplines within the marketing spectrum…and this brand simply doesn’t do it?

What gives?

Well, let me tell you what gives!

Sponsorship is Broken…and it’s Our Fault

When a company says that they don’t “do sponsorship,” what they really mean is that they don’t pay a made up sum of money in order to put a logo on some signs at an event with a poorly defined audience.

So, when a prospect says that they don’t do sponsorship, what they are really telling you is that they no longer do bad sponsorship.

In fact, for many sponsorship properties, “sponsorship” has become synonymous with this old-school approach. That is, an exchange of money for a handful of low value “sponsorship” opportunities like logo placements and signage.

Given how many individuals still sell sponsorship using sponsorship packages, with outdated levels, made up values and little more than recognition on signage…it’s no wonder that brands “don’t do sponsorship”.

We Don’t do Sponsorship…But I Have Budget for THAT!

I have a client who reached out to a company to talk to them about how the two entities could work together. When my client, Joan, got to the meeting, her contact began by saying “we don’t do sponsorship.”

Joan probed further and described how her org. does sponsorship differently but her prospect was unmoved in their position. Joan tried all of the buzzwords “sponsorship” “partnership” “experiential marketing” to no avail.

Then Joan tried something else:

“What if” she asked, “we could put you in front of a room of 30 of your ideal buyers, all of whom are in a position to make a purchase within the next 18 months?”

“And what if” she went on “you were the only one in the room from your industry? And rather than sponsoring the event, you simply paid for the whole thing and gave people a chance to network in a casual, low pressure environment where they could relax and you could get to know them in a more direct way?”

The brand’s response?

“Oh, well THAT we have budget for! In fact, if you could deliver what you’re describing, I have a business development budget of $75K that I could tap into.”

Do you see what happened there?

Joan said sponsorship and the prospect heard “logo on signage, free gala tickets, mention from the mic and a branded tweet”. But when Joan focused on delivering what her prospect valued (and in this case a very simple activation!) the conversation changed.

Nobody buys a product called “sponsorship,” They buy an outcome, and in this case, that outcome was new clients.

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Stop Trying to Sell Anything…Including Sponsorship

For your next sales meetings, don’t try to sell anyone a sponsorship package. In fact, don’t even bring one to the meeting. Remember, sponsorship is a verb, it is not a thing that people purchase but an action they take to produce a specific outcome.

Get to know your prospect and their goals and don’t use the meeting as an opportunity to tell your prospect everything you can think of about your organization, your cause, your mission or your event.

Always go into meetings with the understanding that your prospect has a goal and that until they tell you what that goal is, you are not in a position to ask for the sale.