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Three Components of a Winning Sponsorship Program 

by | April 26, 2022

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If I told you that the best sponsorship programs came down to only three components, you probably wouldn’t believe me, right? 

I’m sure you’d tell me there are at least six or seven must-have components to your sponsorship program, or maybe 10 or 12. Whatever the number, it’s definitely not three.

Well, I’m here to tell you it is three. Just like you can make a pretty darn good cake with only cake mix, eggs, and some pie filling for flavor, you can boil your sponsorship program down to only the most critical elements, or ingredients if you will.

Allow me to explain how in this article.

Three Components of a Winning Sponsorship Program

These Are the Only Three Components Your Sponsorship Program Needs

I like the example of a three-ingredient cake and comparing that to your sponsorship program. No, not to make you hungry, but to prove that oftentimes, simpler is better.

If your chocolate cake had only chocolate cake mix, eggs, and raspberry or cherry pie filling, that’s sufficient, right? 

Yet some people would want to overcomplicate it. Maybe they’d add chocolate chips to the cake batter to give it more crunch, or Nutella so it’s even fudgier.

At the end of the day, you don’t need those things, just like your sponsorship program doesn’t have to get too extraneous either. Here’s all you need.

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Ah, how such a small four-letter word can mean so much. Here is the data you need to collect.

Audience Data

Let’s start with the must-have data your sponsorship program needs, and that’s audience data. 

I haven’t gone super in-depth about procuring and analyzing audience data, so I want to do that now as a sort of refresher in case you’re new to this blog. I’d also encourage you to read the wealth of information about audience data on the blog, such as this post.

Essentially, audience data is a collection of information that tells you more about your audience. 

You want to produce a survey that goes into more than their demographics and geographics such as their age, location, marital status, number of children, and job title.

You want to learn more about psychographics as well. You know, the motivations that drive a person’s decision-making, especially as that decision-making centers around purchases.

You need to know why each member of your audience chooses your company or organization, and why they attend your events and buy your products and services. 

You also must know what they like about being associated with your company or organization as well as what they don’t like.

Yes, that’s right, you need to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly with an audience survey. It’s the only way to get a full picture of your audience.

You get brownie points for quizzing your audience on their brand loyalties and preferences, especially as it relates to industries outside of your own. 

Which brands does your audience like in travel, retail, insurance, and automotive? Which company do they bank with? Who is their credit card provider?

When you can answer these questions, it becomes a lot easier to prospect for sponsors, but that’s a different beast entirely.

Making heads or tails out of audience data can be a challenge for some sponsorship seekers. I always recommend categorizing your audience members by criteria. 

You’ll have a bunch of broad groups that you should make more and more specific by niching down if you will. 

In other words, if you have a group of 20-somethings working in Pittsburgh, you would divide that one group by age (21 years old vs. 23 years old, etc.), income, job title, and where in Pittsburgh they live (did you know there are 90 neighborhoods in Pittsburgh alone?).

You may think this data is too hyper-specific to matter much to anyone, but that’s not true. When you find the right kinds of sponsorship prospects based on your audience research, they’ll love seeing such detailed data.

It makes it so much easier to see how your audience would integrate into theirs. 

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Media Footprint

What kind of media partnerships has your company or organization had in the past, whether that’s the recent past or the distant past? Just how far does your media footprint go?

This is information that you want to have documented as part of your sponsorship program as well. 

After all, past media partnerships can inform future partnerships. 

You can also use these partnerships as the basis of case studies that you present to sponsorship prospects to show them the kinds of results you can deliver for similar companies or brands like theirs. 

Marketing Strategy 

Sponsorship is a lot of things, but it’s certainly rooted in marketing. 

The success of your event, opportunity, or program does not solely hinge on the sponsor’s involvement alone. It’s reliant on you reaching out to your audience, enticing them to purchase tickets to an event or opportunity, and then showing up. 

You can’t set a marketing strategy by the wayside because you have sponsored promotions or big sponsorship bucks. These things can help propel your event or opportunity to the next level, but you’re still expected to bring something to the table as well.


The next of the three components of a winning sponsorship program is another D-word, discovery. 

I just wrote a hugely in-depth post on sponsorship discovery that I recommend you give a read here. It’s not the first time I’ve talked about discovery on the blog, but it is the most current (at least as of this writing).

I want to take one point that I wrote about in that article and reiterate it here. A discovery meeting is not a sales meeting. If it was, then I wouldn’t be talking about discovery. I would be discussing sales meetings.

Think for a moment about what you do for a living. If you work any kind of office job, then you know that you don’t get into an introductory meeting with a potential new client ready to treat it like a sales meeting.

Yet so many sponsorship seekers turn around and do that exact same thing when it comes to their sponsorship prospects. And you know what happens? You majorly turn the prospect off.

A discovery session is about discovering information on the prospect. You should have already done cursory research into the prospect before deciding whether you wanted to potentially strike up a sponsorship deal with them.

You’ll have learned such things as the company history, the company headquarters, the types of products and services the company specializes in, which causes the company believes in, and a couple of the company’s most noteworthy partners.

The discovery session tells you the kinds of things that searching on Google or combing through LinkedIn cannot. For instance, you can learn what kind of target audience the prospect is going after.

You’ll hear about why the prospect has failed to reach that target audience. You can also glean information on the prospect’s business goals and success measures.

The only way to get this kind of invaluable information is to treat the discovery session like a discovery session. You also have to ask the right questions.

Fortunately, that link I shared from earlier in this section gives you plenty of great discovery questions to start with. 

What are you trying to achieve with the discovery session, I can hear you asking? That’s simple.

All you want to know is whether you can fix a prospect’s problems with your solutions. If you can’t, then you move on to the next prospect on your list. 

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Okay, so I didn’t do this on purpose, but the last of the three components your sponsorship program must have also starts with a D, and that’s delivery.  

No, I’m not talking about delivery like your Uber Eats driver, although sort of. 

When you pay Uber Eats for a meal from a restaurant, you expect your Uber Eats driver to go to the restaurant, pick up the correct meal, drop it off, and let you know, right?

There is no contract mandating that that exact thing happens, but those are the rules, nevertheless.

In sponsorship, you’re expected to offer a sponsor assets and activations. The assets and activations have varying levels of value. Rather than guess that value or choose it at random, you use market research to determine the value of your assets and activations.

Once a sponsor chooses the assets and activations they want, they pay you for those services. Then you’re supposed to deliver the services you promised.

Unlike the arrangement between an Uber Eats driver and yourself, which is more informal, a sponsorship arrangement is far more formal. 

The difference? There’s a contract. If you’re found to be in breach of contract, you could face some serious repercussions.

Now, that’s not to say the sponsor will expect you to deliver on every single thing you promised. I’ve talked about this on the blog recently where I shared a very effective fulfillment report template.

The fulfillment report is proof that you did everything you said you would. On one page of the report, you should create a chart that lists every single asset and activation you offered. Then you want to detail whether you delivered on those assets and activations.

If you did, then great. If you over delivered, that’s even better. If you didn’t deliver, you can mention why, and you always should.

After all, as I wrote about in that post, sometimes the reason you didn’t deliver on an objective is out of your control. You shouldn’t take the fall if you couldn’t prevent something from happening. 

That said, you want to get into the habit of delivering on as many promised objectives as you can as often as you can. 

Part of that means only promising what you can reasonably deliver.

You don’t want to be the kind of sponsorship seeker who offers the sponsor the moon and stars because it sounds good. All along, you know you can’t practice what you preach, but you said what you did to cinch the sponsor.

The time will inevitably come when you’ll have egg on your face. I must stress again that once something is put in writing, there’s a legal obligation to fulfill as many of the assets and activations that you can. 

Why Those Three Components for a Five-Star Sponsorship Program?

After reading the last section, you may still be wondering, why those three components specifically? Maybe instead of audience data, don’t you need a sponsorship proposal instead? 

No, you don’t. You need data, discovery, and delivery for a sponsorship program to successfully launch. 

That’s not to say that other components of your sponsorship aren’t important. They are, they’re just not as important. 

To prove why, just think about sponsorship from end to end. It’s not only about sales, even though many first-time or second-time sponsorship seekers put all the emphasis there.

It’s not all about the sponsorship proposal, either. A sponsorship proposal has its place, but it’s a very small part of the equation that is your overall sponsorship program.

It’s about having the right data, on your audience, on media, on valuations, and on anything that you can provide to a sponsor to meet their goals and connect better with their target market.

It’s about discovery, where you can truly understand the objectives of your sponsor so you can customize your solutions and opportunities. 

Finally, it’s about delivery. If you burn your current sponsors, not only are you preventing yourself from working from them again, but you’re also shutting yourself off from their probably vast network of referrals. 


A good sponsorship program needs data, discovery, and delivery. Other components should go into your sponsorship program, but those three are the bread and butter, the must-haves. 

If you prioritize those areas of your sponsorship program moving forward and focus less on sales and your sponsorship proposal, you should notice that prospects are more receptive to a meeting.

You could just be on your way to your next sponsorship deal!