A few months ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Asking the wrong questions: Sponsorship by the numbers”. Ever since, I have had a steady stream of people requesting the questions sponsorship professionals should ask. So, I’ve now done a sponsorship SAQ (should-ask questions) for both sponsors and sponsorship seekers, covering the most important questions our industry tend to ignore.
Why are we sponsoring this? Why are we sponsoring anything?
This is THE big question, and while many sponsors do ask it, most don’t really dig for the answer.
If you answer this question with anything having to do with the sponsorship itself, you’ve got it wrong. You aren’t sponsoring it for awareness. You aren’t sponsoring it because it’s a good cause. You aren’t sponsoring it because it’s a bargain. You aren’t sponsoring it because it’s iconic or prestigious or well-matched. You are sponsoring for only two reasons:
Everything, EVERYTHING you do with sponsorship – as a whole and individually – is about one or both of those things. If you can specify exactly what you are trying to change – all tying back to your overall brand or company objectives – suddenly, everything else will fall into place. You’ll know how to leverage your investments. You’ll know how to measure the results.
Do we have the resources to make the most of this investment?
When most people think of “resources”, they are really thinking “money”. Honestly, money is the least of your concerns, as it is possible to leverage sponsorship fantastically for far less money than you probably think (10-25% of the value of the fee, in most cases). Instead, you really need to think in terms of all of the resources you’re going to need:
Does this sponsorship have the critical mass of care to leverage effectively?
This is another big question. A sponsorship doesn’t have to be huge to work, it has to have a critical mass of care and interest. Your target markets have to care, and if they care a lot, it’s a big opportunity. You will be able to do a lot with it, including extending the meaningful timeframe and the geographic footprint. On the other hand, if they’re indifferent, or they couldn’t give a rat’s bum, your leverage plan simply won’t work.
How do we engender more internal buy-in for our investments?
Buy-in is like a magic potion for sponsorship. It multiplies results, shortens required lead-times, amplifies creativity, and spotlights potential issues before they undo you. The problem is that you have to get the stakeholders on-side, and after decades of the typical sponsorship being not very good, there is often little understanding of the real power and potential of the medium.
The answer to this question will be different from one sponsor to another, but in my experience, it comes down to one or a combination of these things:
How can we reflect the real value of our sponsorship investments?
Going back to the “why do we do this” question, the real value of your investment(s) can only be reflected by measuring changes in perceptions and behaviours. I’ve written reams on measurement in this blog, so I’m not going to repeat myself.
Where is our real commercial value?
Many sponsorship seekers concentrate on getting sponsorship for the programs or events where there is a revenue shortfall. This really is folly, as is packaging the same old benefits because you always have.
Where a sponsor will see value may be very, very different than where you think it is. You need to figure out:
Two tools that can help you are…
If I were the sponsor, why would I be interested in this sponsorship? What would I do with it?
This is THE question for sponsorship seekers. You need to get out of your headspace and into the specific sponsor’s that you’re targeting. What if you owned that company and could do anything? What would you do with it? How would you use it to change perceptions and behaviours? The answers to those questions will form the core premise of your offer. Everything else – including the highly customised benefits list – will be built from those big ideas.
You may want to see my tutorial, “Sponsorship Proposal Basics in About 15 Minutes” for more on this process.
How can we get our sponsors to leverage their investments better?
This is a big problem, but one that is not that difficult to solve. It’s going to take proactivity and creativity on your part, but one or more of the following four strategies should move most sponsors.
If you have a sponsor who is simply not interested, take their money, keep trying, but resign yourself to the fact that they may eventually leave you because they’re not getting what they need from the sponsorship. It will be their own fault, but use the money while you’ve got it.
These are hard questions, but they are the questions that must be asked by sponsorship professionals if you want to get the most out of your efforts. Anything less and you’re letting yourself down.
You may be interested in my latest white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.
If you need additional assistance with your sponsorship portfolio, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large and/or diverse organisations.
Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.