7 Sponsorship Practices that should be Hit by a Meteor – Part 1

SONY DSCI was recently reading about the two different schools of thought on what killed off the dinosaurs. The “gradualists” believe that there was a gradual dying off, due to climate change, competition from mammals, or any number of other factors. The “catastrophists” believe there was one major event – with a meteor crashing into Earth often referenced – that was responsible. As usual, my thoughts turned to sponsorship, and I saw some parallels.

Our industry has some prehistoric practices that have been dying a slow death for some time – too slow, as far as I’m concerned. I’m an idealist (obviously), and would give my eye teeth to get rid of them once and for all. They’re counterproductive. They’re disproven by research. And when people outside of sponsorship see industry professionals promoting these practices, it undermines the sophistication and accountability we have worked so hard, for so long, to achieve.

The Global Financial Crisis was as close as we’ve come to a meteor moment. As difficult as it was (and in some cases, still is), it significantly elevated the overall sophistication level of the industry. This has been fantastic, overall, but somehow, those pesky dinosaurs survived. Damn.

So, bring on the meteor! Let’s have a catastrophe (at least in the theoretical sense) and blow some dinosaurs to smithereens!

These are the seven sponsorship practices I’d like to see extinct. I’m leaving comments open, and would love to hear about the practices you’d like to see gone, as well.

Gold, silver, bronze (platinum, diamond, ruby, emerald, tin, plasticine…)

Sponsors hate these proposals. You know the ones: A set compliment of benefits for a set price in each category, usually named after some precious metal or gem. Seriously, they hate them. When a sponsor receives one of these gold-silver-bronze proposals, this is what they are actually reading:

  • We don’t care what you need, so just imagine what a responsive partner we’re going to be.
  • We don’t have an ounce of creativity in our whole company.
  • We’re inflexible.
  • We’re lazy.
  • We don’t know what has real value to you.
  • We don’t understand modern sponsorship.

Whether all of the above are true or not, that is message you are portraying. With all of the great resources available, many of them free, there really is no excuse for taking this approach. As a start, check out these Power Sponsorship resources:

Return-on-investment reflected in a dollars-to-dollars ratio

Measuring the results of sponsorship isn’t complicated. There are a thousand ways you and your colleagues can create a full picture of what you’ve achieved, and create a report that is both reflective of real results and credible with your senior executives.

But reflecting those results as a dollars-to-dollars ratio? Impossible. You simply cannot reflect every change against your objectives – every perception change, every behaviour change – in dollars. Some stuff you can, certainly, but most everything would have to be arbitrary. So, if you’re sticking with this antiquated mode of measurement, you’re probably either trying to meet unrealistic reporting requirements of senior executives, or you just don’t know how to do it better. The good news is that doing best practice measurement will also tick the box with your senior executives.

I strongly suggest you check out these resources:

“Dear Sir/Madam” sponsorspam

Geez, it’s taking my email a long time to download this morning. Has the modem chucked a wobbly? No, it’s okay. What the heck is going on? Oh, of course… another misguided sponsorship seeker has decided to send me his 14mb, uncustomised sponsorship proposal “deck”, complete with a “Dear Sir/Madam” cover note. Man, I get a lot of these.


Now hear this, sponsorship seekers… just because you can somehow find someone’s email or message them on LinkedIn or Twitter, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to spam them with your generic proposal! It won’t work and you are giving our industry a black eye.

In fact, this is the hierarchy of proposal quality and professionalism:

  • Excellent – Highly targeted, fully customised proposal, including great ideas for how the sponsor can leverage the investment, prepared after researching the brand and speaking to someone on the brand team.
  • Good – As above, but without actually speaking to someone on the brand team first.
  • Mediocre – Generic proposal sent through the mail. At least they’re easy to ignore.
  • Bad – Generic proposal sent to a total stranger by any direct, electronic means.
  • Really bad – Generic proposal, sent electronically, including some ridiculously huge PowerPoint presentation, with a “Dear Sir/Madam” cover note and/or referencing a sponsorship opportunity on the other side of the planet.
  • Epically bad – Generic proposal, ridiculously huge attachment, “Dear Sir/Madam” cover note, with a unreasonably short lead-time.
  • Beyond awful – Generic proposal, Dear Sir/Madam” cover note, unreasonably short lead-time, followed up with daily, increasingly aggro emails or messages about how they are awaiting your approval by return email.

I guess the upside is that these sponsorship spammers are so awfully, obliviously bad that they make anyone who puts a modicum of thought into an offer look like a genius.

That said, what we really want is for sponsorship seekers to stop this practice altogether, and start taking a strategic, targeted, customised approach. They will get a much better result and won’t burn bridges across the industry every time they hit “send”.

I’ve already outlined a bunch of good resources, above, as a starting point.

Go to Part 2 of 7 Sponsorship Practices that should be Hit by a Meteor.

Need more assistance?

You may be interested in my latest white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.

Rightsholders, for all you need to know about sponsorship sales and servicing, you may want to get a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition.

If you need professional assistance with sponsorship, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large, diverse, and/or decentralised organisations.

Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.

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