What to Do if a Sponsor Says, “Just Send Me a Proposal”

Steel question mark editWhen you hear that, what do you think? Some sponsorship seekers are delighted that they’ve been asked to submit a proposal. The more astute sponsorship seekers are frustrated because the sponsor hasn’t provided the information they need to create a good offer.

First off, you need to know that a lot of – okay, virtually all – sponsors will say, “Just send me a proposal”, just to end the conversation, and have no intention of actually considering what you have to offer. If a sponsor had any interest, and you were asking pertinent questions about their needs, they would keep talking, so you would have all the information you need to create a compelling offer for them. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that is reality.

The silver lining is that the sponsor has actually invited you to submit a proposal. Your chances may be slim-to-none, but the invitation is there. You have three choices…

Option 1 – Send something generic

Actually, Option 1 would be more accurately described as “send something generic and kiss your already slim chances goodbye”. Don’t send a generic proposal. Don’t send a “prospectus”. Don’t send anything that isn’t customised. Any of those things is a total waste of time and all you will accomplish is matching the sponsor’s nonchalance.

Option 2 – Move on

Honestly, this is your best option most of the time. Creating a great proposal takes a lot of time and creativity and energy. Unless the sponsor is an exceptional match, it probably isn’t worth your time to pursue it. You always have other options, and your energy is better spent on sponsors who are engaged in the process.

Option 3 – Dig

If the sponsor is an exceptional match, then go for it. But if you’re going to take your chances, your odds are long, and you’d better make it good.

You need to research the objectives and target markets of the brand – often inferring their needs from advertising, packaging, websites, social media activities, and the rest. Dig, discuss, then work as a team to brainstorm amazing ideas for how the sponsor can use the investment.

When it comes time to formalise that offer into a proposal, showcase the work you’ve done early. Don’t oversell yourself – sell your understanding of their needs and ability to meet them. State your understanding of those needs and how the sponsor could use the investment – leverage it – to meet those needs, early in the proposal. You need to showcase that you’ve taken the invitation to submit a proposal seriously. Even if they say no – still a very real probability – you’ll have got their attention and they’ll be happy to engage more in the process next time.

Two good tools are:

“Just send in a proposal” isn’t what you want to hear, but you do have options… and “just sending in a proposal” is the worst one.

© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. For republishing information see Blog and White Paper Reprints.

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