How many times have you issued a prospect a sponsorship package only to get a printed letter in the mail several weeks later telling you that your offer isn’t what they’re looking for?
Or much more commonly, how many times have you sent a sponsorship package and just heard nothing back in response?
If you’re sending stock sponsorship packages, then these kinds of reactions are going to become your everyday. Most sponsors are going to hate the layout and the contents of your sponsorship package, even if they don’t say so in as many words.
I know that hate is a strong word, but in this case, it’s warranted.
If you’re frustrated with the responses you’ve gotten from sponsorship prospects once they see your tiered assets and activations, this guide is for you. I’ll help you retool your sponsorship package so it’s something a prospect relishes looking over.
The Problems with Tiered Sponsorship Packages
So many sponsorship seekers I’ve worked with–until they learn better, that is–believe that they’ll send a prospect their sponsorship package and something magical will happen.
The prospect will happily receive the proposal, read it from cover to cover, and automatically select the assets in the most expensive tier because gee, don’t they just suit the prospect to a tee?
The prospect forwards you a check, you use that check to pay for your event, and voila, sponsorship achieved.
Well, not only is that a gross overestimation of how sponsorship works (in reality, it’s nowhere near even close), but it’s assuming that the tiered sponsorship levels are going to get things done.
They won’t, and here’s why.
It’s All About You, Not Them
When you put together your assets into your tiered sponsorship levels, how many meetings have you had with the sponsorship prospect by that point? How many emails have you exchanged back and forth? How many phone calls?
I would bet the answer, in all three cases, is zero.
You researched the prospect. You know a bit about them. You have an email address or phone number handy, but you haven’t reached out yet. You want to prepare your materials first, and that means putting together your sponsorship package.
So then I have to ask you another follow-up question. Whose needs are the assets in the sponsorship package fulfilling?
More than likely, they’re fulfilling your needs. You’re using your limited sponsorship experience to guess at what you think a sponsor would like or need.
You haven’t bothered speaking to the prospect or scheduling a discovery question where you could sit down and ask exactly what that prospect does like or need. So really, you’re just guessing.
Imagine if you walked into a clothing store you’ve never shopped at before. You want to revitalize your wardrobe, but you’re not sure where to start.
An attendant comes up and begins recommending you clothing. The problem is, everything they suggest, you hate.
And of course you do! The attendant has never met you before. They certainly don’t know your style. They’re picking out things that they’ve heard are trendy or that they personally like and assume you’ll like them too.
That’s annoying, right? After a few minutes of seeing nothing but clothes you hate, you’d thank the attendant and duck out of the store, never to return.
And that explains in a nutshell why your prospects don’t get back to you once you send them a stock sponsorship package.
They see asset after asset after asset that has nothing to do with their current needs and challenges and does nothing to address their goals. They can tell that this is the same sponsorship package that you send to every client.
Even if you say that you’ll customize your package, that’s not enough. I’ve talked about this on the blog, but you should never say you’ll customize assets in a sponsorship package. You should just do it.
It Doesn’t Create the Foundations for a Solid Bond
Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that most stock sponsorship packages include assets like speaking engagements, logo placement, and other low-value assets that no sponsor really wants.
For the sake of this section, let’s say that you send a stock sponsorship package, and it resonates with a sponsor.
This isn’t impossible, by the way. Some particularly old-school sponsors might like tiered sponsorship packages. That doesn’t mean they’re the right approach, but it does mean they can work in very limited circumstances.
So when you put together your sponsorship package, you were smart. You knew which assets might be more valuable than others, and you stacked them all in the gold tier.
Well, your sponsor is interested in only one asset in the gold tier, so they ask if they can select only what they want. You emphasize that no, they have to buy the assets in the entire tier.
That’s sort of like being told by a fast-food restaurant that you have to buy the large fries and large drink if you want that specialty sandwich. You only want the sandwich, but the rest comes with it.
Well, except that a gold-level sponsorship tier is going to cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars more than a drive-thru meal.
The sentiment is the same, though. You feel a touch swindled getting loaded with all these extra sides you didn’t want just as your sponsor feels a bit swindled being forced into buying the gold-level package for one asset.
They’ll be amenable and professional throughout your entire working relationship, of course. However, the moment that the time comes to discuss renegotiations, a sponsor who felt coerced into buying assets they didn’t really want will very quickly decline to work with you again.
So was it worth it to make that money just that once from this one sponsor? I would say no.
You’re Often Leaving Money on the Table
There are several reasons why inexperienced sponsorship seekers gravitate towards stock sponsorship packages.
One reason is that they’re easy. You don’t have to do a discovery session or learn about your prospect. You can just send out the sponsorship package and there you go. Your work is done.
The other reason is that stock sponsorship packages seem like the secret key to earning boatloads of money. As I said in the last section, all you gotta do is put your best assets in the gold tier and then not budge if the prospect only wants a few assets from that tier.
It’s all or none, baby.
So let’s say that you get $20,000 for your gold-level assets. That sounds pretty good, right?
I’m not going to say that $20,000 is a small chunk of change, except when it comes to sponsorship properties, it is.
I’ve struck several million-dollar sponsorship deals and guided clients to multi-million-dollar deals. When you’ve got that many zeroes on the table, $20,000 is nothing.
Sponsors are willing to pay for what they want. They’re like anyone else in that regard.
If you give your sponsor a customized package with assets you researched and included based on your discovery session as well as activations that you know are tailored to the prospect, guess what?
The prospect is not going to offer you $20,000. You could make quite a lot more money.
So the next time you think that a stock sponsorship package is the best way to milk the most money out of a prospect, I would tell you to think again.
What to Offer a Prospect Instead of Stock Sponsorship Packages
Here’s what I want you to do the next time you’ve got a sponsorship prospect on the line and you want to impress them.
Do away completely with your stock sponsorship package and offer them this instead.
In your sponsorship proposal, rather than have your tiered sponsorship levels front and center, I want your audience data front and center instead.
Remember how I told you that sponsors are willing to pay more money for things that they want? Ding, ding, ding. This is exactly what I’m talking about.
More so than anything else, your prospect wants audience data.
Wait, really? More so than anything else? That’s right.
Why is that, I’m sure you’re asking? Well, because audience data is everything.
Sponsors have multiple goals and thus multiple reasons to work with companies or organizations like yours.
Most of their goals involve brand awareness, lead generation, or product sales. Having access to your audience helps them achieve all those goals.
Having access to a logo? It helps a sponsor achieve zero of those goals.
That’s why you need the most niched-down audience segments that you can humanely create. If you think you can make an audience group smaller, then go for it.
Only when you think that you can’t split a group further is your work done.
It’s a lot easier for a sponsor to see that you have 500 20-to-22-year-olds in the city who earn $50,000 and 700 30-to-32-year-olds who make $75,000 and say, “yes, that’s my target market.”
It’s hard to say that about broad groups like single mothers, millennials, or–my favorite–middle-class families.
This data doesn’t come out of nowhere, by the way. You have to survey your audience to get it.
With such detailed audience data, don’t be afraid to dedicate two or even three pages in your sponsorship proposal to your various niched-down audience groups.
I promise you that a potential sponsor cares so much more about this than any random collection of assets.
How do you get your sponsor in front of your audience during your event, program, or opportunity in a way that matters to both parties?
Is the answer through a speech? Goodness, no. Those are so tired. You won’t attract an audience with a speech, but rather, send them away.
Activation ideas take a need of your audience and then smash that together with a need of your sponsor.
You learn about these audience needs through…that’s right, your survey. If you haven’t issued one already, you really need to.
Your audience will tell you loud and clear what they want more of at your next event.
Then it’s all about finding a way to incorporate the sponsor into what an audience wants but in a fashion that’s still going to fulfill what the sponsor wants.
Even if you’re seeking your first sponsor, I’m sure you’ve engaged your audience and past partners in a meaningful way in the past.
Please, when you’re putting together your sponsorship proposal, showcase that!
A sponsor wants to see what kinds of activations you’ve done before, as it could give them ideas for what you two could make happen now.
Listen, I’m not 100 percent against e-blasts, mentions of a sponsor from the mic during or after a speech, and even logos.
These are all examples of low-value assets, but low-value assets aren’t no-value assets. They have their place.
If these are benefits that you offer every sponsor, then I recommend noting such at the bottom of your sponsorship package.
You can write something like, “these are the benefits we offer all sponsors,” and then produce a bulleted list with those benefits.
A sponsor knows what they’re in for, but this information is not interfering with what a sponsor cares more about, such as activations and audience data.
Sponsors react so unfavorably to your sponsorship package because it doesn’t take what they want into consideration in the slightest.
The package is more focused on the assets that you think a prospect will like and doesn’t delve nearly as deeply into activations and audience data as it should.
Is it more time-consuming to put together a customized sponsorship package for each new prospect you work with? Of course, it is. Is it the right way to go about sponsorship? You betcha.
Unless you want to leave money on the table, then it’s time to ditch the gold, silver, and bronze tiered sponsorship packages!
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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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