4 Warning Signs that Your Sponsorship Proposals Suck

Rubbish BinI’ve lamented on a few occasions about the bad news I often have to give to sponsorship seekers. A lot of it has to do with the quality of the sponsorship proposals they’re creating, so I’ve decided to do this little self-diagnostic to see if your sponsorship proposals suck. There are a hundred ways to get it wrong, but these are the big ones, and if you stay away from these warning signs, you’ll do a lot better.


Do not EVER reuse a proposal for another sponsor simply by searching for one sponsor name and replacing it with another. It’s a dead giveaway to sponsors that you a) don’t know what you’re doing; and b) don’t give a crap about what they need to achieve.

Don’t even do it for potential sponsors in the same category. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways don’t need the same thing. Neither do Bupa and Medibank, Brother and Canon, or Kellogg’s and Uncle Tobys. Their jobs as marketers are to differentiate their brands and encourage preference and loyalty in their target markets. They don’t do that by marketing themselves in the exact same way as their competitors, so at the very least, sending the same proposal counterproductive, and you could well be burning a bridge. Plus, more often than not, you’ll miss one.

More than 25% is about you

If you’re saying to yourself, “Of course it’s about my event. What else would it be about?” you need to pay close attention here. You should only include enough background information about whatever it is that you’re selling so that the proposal has context – usually no more than a couple of pages. After that, the entire proposal needs to be about the sponsor, including…

  • Who your target markets are, why they care about what you’re doing, and how the sponsor can add value to that experience.
  • How the sponsor can achieve their specific objectives – research, research, research – with this sponsorship. That’s right, you need to include creative ideas for leverage.
  • Fully customised benefits list and the investment required.

You use the term “general audience” or “broad audience”

Sponsors don’t want to reach a huge audience of people who don’t really care about what you do, but might cast their eyes on a few logos. They want to connect with an audience that is passionate and involved, as those are the people who will be receptive to win-win-win leverage activities and achieve big results for the sponsors.

“It’s just a teaser”

I see a lot of uncustomised, often search-and-replace, proposals and letters. Often, the lack of effort put into these unsophisticated offers is dismissed with “It’s just a teaser.” Here’s a bit of insight for you: Sponsors don’t respond to teasing. They’re not going to request a meeting. They probably won’t even respond to your calls. They surely won’t say “yes.”

The mindset behind this is somewhere in the vicinity of wearing sweatpants to your first job interview, with the intent to wear a suit for the second interview. As with job interviews, you get one chance. You need to do your homework and put in your best effort the first time.

How to do better

There are a few resources you should check out if you want to do a better job on your proposals:

Need more assistance?

If you could use some additional support, I provide sponsorship coaching, sponsorship consulting, sponsorship training, and if you need a fast, cost-effective start, the Jump Start program. If you’re interested in any of these services, please review the materials and drop me a line to discuss:

Kim Skildum-Reid
AU: +61 2 9559 6444
US: +1 612 326 5265

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