How to Manage Regional Sponsorship Management.
One of the most useful results of spelling out the process is about pet projects. If you’ve ever had a senior executive or regional manager spend marketing funds on their favourite team or charity or what have you – without proper assessment – you know what a headache these white elephants can be.
The process outlined in your policy will invite anyone in the company to put a potential sponsorship into the funnel at the start of the process, but it will demand that ALL of them go through the same rigorous process of assessment.
Have you ever noticed that everyone thinks they’re an expert at sponsorship? And a lot of them, particularly senior management, want to micro-manage the process? This is often driven by an irrational fear that sponsorship is risky. When done well, it’s actually one of the least risky of all marketing media, but a lot of people don’t really understand that, and think they need to oversee every little decision.
When you create a policy, it’s like telling your whole company that you know what you’re doing, and look… just LOOK… at the rigorous, well thought out, signed-off process that those sponsorships go through before committing. Once your colleagues know that you know the rules and they agree that the process is sound, they’ll back off. And thank goodness for that.
These rationale aren’t vastly different from the rationale for a sponsor policy, but the benefits to your role and your organisation are somewhat different.
This is your big chance to say that you don’t just do it for the money. Other benefits include access to new markets, access to sponsor leverage activities, and the sponsors adding value to the fan experience.
You also need to outline that sponsors don’t consider this free money, and that you have to meet and exceed their commercial expectations, and behave in a manner consistent with any other commercial opportunity they may have. For some organisations, this may be obvious, but many organisations – I’m talking to you charities, culture, and government – making this clear to your whole organisation may be the most valuable part of the whole document.
Like a sponsor policy, the biggest component of your sponsorship policy will be an outline of the process by which new sponsors are identified, researched, approached, and how offers are created and formalised, as well as how sponsorhips are negotiated, contracted, managed, serviced, and renewed. It also includes a brief rationale for each of the steps.
As part of the process, you also need to outline the typical lead-time you need to achieve all of the steps leading to a sale.
You should also define the timeframe at which your sales window is closed, as continuing to sell will make you look desperate and is unlikely to be successful or get you a realistic price. (For more on that, see How to Get a Fire-Sale Sponsor to Renew at a Realistic Level.)
Have you ever had your senior executive or a board member do a handshake deal with a sponsor? If so, at least one of the following probably also happened:
The policy will make it clear that your expectation from the senior executives and/or board is to provide introductions and high-level insight into potential sponsors, and you’ll take it from there.
If you’ve got regional or local branches, your policy needs to outline specifically how a national sponsorship will be delivered:
This can all be done lots of different ways, but consistency is key, which is why this belongs in your policy. For more on this, see Herding Cats: Getting Your Regions to Deliver a National Sponsorship.
This is critical. You need to outline that sponsorships must be priced to cover both the cost of sale and the cost of servicing, and still have enough “profit” to put back into your event or program. Many boards and senior executives think, “We need $20,000, so let’s raise $20,000”, leaving you nothing with which to deliver the sponsorship. (For more on pricing, see Sponsorship Pricing Basics.)
For non-profits, you also need to be absolutely clear that sponsorship is unallocated funds. It doesn’t matter which of your programs or events the sponsor is sponsoring, as long as you deliver the benefits around that specific investment, you are under no obligation to put the money into that specific pot. This is money to cover your overheads or whatever you need money for, and it’s none of the sponsor’s business where the money goes.
There is a lot more to sponsorship policy than I’ve been able to cover here. For lots more, I suggest you pick up one of these two books:
Both of these include the whole process for sponsorship and lots of tools and templates. They also include big sections on policy, including a checklist that will make creating your first draft very straightforward. Already have a policy? This could be a great way to double-check you’re covering everything important.
You may also be interested in my white papers, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“. I’ve also got self-paced, online sponsorship training courses for both sponsors and rightsholders. Get the details and links to course outlines and reviews here.
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 Systems Design service for large, diverse, and/or decentralised organisations. Feel free to contact me to discuss.
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