Three Things Missing from Every Sponsorship Program
Although you might be new to sponsorship if you’re reading this, I’m anything but. At this stage in my career, I’ve probably gone over more than 2,000 sponsorship packages, which is no small feat.
These packages have been for a range of industries. Some are smaller deals and others are multi-million-dollar deals.
Yet I’ve noticed something that most of these sponsorship packages have in common – they’re missing something.
More specifically, they’re missing three things.
Yes, it’s the same three things every time.
I also notice that perhaps in a response to lacking the above three things, many sponsorship seekers overcompensate and have too much of one thing.
What are these things I’m talking about, I’m sure you’re very curiously wondering?
Don’t worry. I won’t leave you hanging for long. I’ll explain everything after the jump.
These Three Things Are Missing from Most Sponsorship Packages I See
So who cares if your sponsorship package isn’t 100 percent perfect, especially if this is your first or second go-around? It’s only natural to make mistakes, right?
Mistakes, sure, but these aren’t mistakes. As I mentioned in the intro, these are glaring omissions in your sponsorship package.
If you’ve contacted two dozen sponsors and all you ever get in response is radio silence, I have a feeling these three missing components could be a huge part of why.
Let’s start with the omission that continues to surprise me the most.
Many sponsorship seekers will put together a sponsorship package that has no traces of audience data whatsoever.
Some sponsorship seekers add a paragraph of audience data. Yes, a paragraph like the one you’re reading right now.
If you think a paragraph is enough space to get into all the nuances of your niched audience segments, let me tell you that it certainly is not!
At the very least, you need an entire page of your sponsorship package dedicated solely to your audience data.
Put that data into a chart or a graph to make it more digestible, but you want to present it as fully as possible.
Telling your prospect that your audience is “middle-class families” or “people who care about [topic in your industry]” is not even close to cutting it.
Although I don’t like to make sponsorship too salesy, you are trying to sell your audience to your sponsor. That’s what it boils down to.
That requires specificity. Let me show you with an example.
Let’s say you’re purchasing a cake.
Imagine if all that was on the bakery menu was a statement or two about the cake. Perhaps it says that the cake is for people who like desserts.
Well guess what? That tells you nothing. Is it vanilla cake? Chocolate? Red velvet?
Even if the bakery said something like “vanilla cake or people who like sweets,” that still doesn’t give you enough information.
Is the cake gluten-free? Flourless? Does it have icing? What kind? Buttercream or whipped cream frosting?
If I was going to buy a cake for a loved one’s birthday party and I walked in and saw a vague and bland cake descriptor, I would walk right out and not buy anything.
That’s how your sponsors feel when you don’t provide them with sufficient audience information.
Sponsors are companies at the end of the day, and companies aren’t exactly in the business of losing money. They like to do just the opposite and make money.
Buying your assets when they’re so poorly described is a huge gamble for a sponsor. Unlike a cake though, which maybe costs $30, your sponsorship opportunity is going to be thousands of dollars, possibly even tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s a lot of money to spend on “middle-class families” and “people who care about [topic in your industry.]” The sponsor simply refuses to do it.
Now that you see it from their perspective, can you really blame them?
If you’ve been guilty of limiting your audience data to a paragraph in your sponsorship package, then I want you to give this data the chance it deserves to shine by expanding upon it.
What if you don’t have audience data at all because you hadn’t realized how important it is?
It’s never too late to fix your mistake and begin presenting more effective sponsorship packages to your next set of prospects.
You don’t simply get audience data by working with your audience. Instead, you need to ask them for it directly.
I always recommend the audience survey, a quick, informative, and to-the-point survey you email or mail out (if your audience is into that sort of thing) to your customers.
What kinds of questions should you include? I’ve written about that on the blog here.
In a nutshell, you want to go deeper with your questioning than basic demographics and geographics.
You want to get a feel for what industry this person works, maybe even their job title. Having income information is nice, as then you know what kinds of products and services to sell to your audience.
You also want to learn about psychographics, especially your audience’s respective motivations, brand loyalties, buying habits, and preferences.
I want you to have at least three niched-down audience segments and 25 data points on each to present to your sponsor.
A niched-down audience segment is not “women in their 30s making $60k a year.” That’s a broad audience group.
You’ll know you’ve niched down your audience segments when you can’t possibly split them into smaller groups.
For instance, if segmenting by age, you can already split the women into smaller groups of 30-33, 33-36, and 36-40. You can divide them by industry and occupation as well as location.
Now, when a sponsorship prospect sits down during a meeting and goes over your audience data, they can very quickly determine which of your audience segments gels with their target audience.
The prospect will want a chance to access your audience to grow their own, and that’s how a sponsorship relationship gets started.
The next thing that I see missing from so many sponsorship programs is activations.
An activation is an experiential marketing opportunity that connects your audience to your sponsor.
Activations might include free samples, an interactive booth at an expo or convention, a phone recharge station, a branded lounge, a branded photo wall, or even an exclusive biergarten.
These things don’t exist just to be flashy or cool. Instead, you’re providing activations that fulfill one need of your sponsor and one need of your audience simultaneously.
I always use the example of a coffee bar as a great activation idea at an expo or convention, especially if the event is several days long.
People have traveled long hours to get to the convention and are probably still jet lagged. They’re also tired from walking around all day. A free coffee station is going to pique their curiosity.
Your audience gets some much-needed energy, and your sponsor gives out free samples.
Now, this example only works if your sponsor was somehow involved in coffee. More importantly, their goal has to be to give out free samples.
If your sponsor wants to increase the size of their email list, then a coffee bar alone couldn’t do that. You’d maybe think of some sort of contest where participants had to share their email addresses to be notified if they won.
How do you know what the sponsor wants? Just like your audience data isn’t guesswork, neither is this.
You want to have a discovery session and possibly another follow-up meeting where you discuss the sponsor’s challenges and goals in-depth. This way, you can come up with activation ideas that you know will solve the sponsor’s unique problems.
Okay, but how do you know what your audience wants? I’ll again point you back around in the direction of your audience survey. It’s extremely telling!
You should be asking questions like “what can we do better at our events?” in your survey. It’s not easy to read the answers but doing so could inspire your future activations.
Strong Call to Action
Okay, so those are two of the big ones out of the way, but I said that most sponsorship packages are missing three things.
There’s one more I have to talk about. That’s a lack of a strong call to action or CTA.
If your CTA currently reads something like, “check off which items on the gold, silver, or bronze package you’re interested in,” or “send a check to this address,” then sorry, but you don’t have a strong call to action.
I would call those passive CTAs at best.
So what does a strong call to action look like then?
It’s more focused on what your sponsorship prospect is trying to achieve than it is telling your prospect they can do A, B, or C.
Some examples of strong CTAs are, “If your goal is to get in front of 40-year-old, high-network moms who live in the suburbs with three or more children, we want to hear from you” or, “Everything we do is custom, so tell us what you’re trying to achieve, and we’ll provide it!”
A strong CTA is a confident CTA. You already know what your sponsorship prospect is trying to achieve, and you’re reminding them of that. You’re also reminding them that you have the audience data they want.
Your Sponsorship Package Probably Has Too Much of This One Thing
You’ll recall that earlier I talked about sponsorship packages not only lacking audience data, activations, and strong CTAs but having too much of something.
So what is that certain something that I see sponsorship seekers overload their sponsorship packages with?
If your sponsorship package has a price list, then I can almost promise you that between the addition of that list and the omission of audience data, strong CTAs, and activations that this is why all your sponsorship endeavors have fallen flat.
I’ve had sponsorship seekers tell me that this opinion is controversial. Call it what you may, but I don’t think you need a price list.
If all your sponsorship assets and activations are custom, then you don’t need to include pricing. I would go as far as to say you shouldn’t include it.
After all, why would you create boxes around what your sponsor can and cannot do if you don’t have to?
Custom assets can be worth quite a lot of money. Audience data can be highly valuable as well.
But I’ll tell you this. If you only price your assets at $5,000, then even if they’re worth twice or thrice that, your sponsor will still only pay $5,000.
They know your assets are worth more, but if you’re not going to charge more, why would they bring it up to you? So they could pay more?
Now, if you turned around and discussed your custom assets and activations with your prospect and you two agreed that it’s worth $15,000, the sponsor would pay that.
But they’re not going to pay $15,000 if you say everything is worth $5,000.
Pricing lists, in my opinion, also give off the same kind of vibe as advertising rate cards. It’s not that advertising rate cards don’t have their place, as do pricing lists. But that place is not in your sponsorship package.
Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
In my experience, sponsorship packages tend to lack thorough audience data (and sometimes any audience data at all), activations, and strong CTAs that inspire action. These packages focus too much on pricing lists instead.
What you should be doing is the opposite. Ditch the pricing lists, beef up the audience data, add confident CTAs that command confident action, and provide activations that you know will fulfill your prospect’s needs based on what you learned during the discovery session.
The sponsorship package is overall a small part of your sponsorship program, and it alone cannot close a deal for you. That’s up to you!
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.