One very big, but very general question has been popping up a lot on some of the discussion boards I monitor. The general gist is:
“How do I get sponsorship for my event?”
I could write a book answering that question! Oh yeah, I already have!
As you can imagine, the discussion boards are full of advice, but for the most part, that advice misses the most important thing a sponsorship seeker can do to maximise their sponsorship success and revenue.
I strongly believe that every sponsorship proposal should…
- Be focused on the sponsor’s needs, not your needs
- Be totally customised to those needs
- Provide multiple, creative ideas for sponsor leverage
- Have a creative benefits list that is built around the benefits needed for those leverage ideas
There is no question it is the sponsor’s job to plan and leverage their own sponsorships. That said, it is totally in your best interest to provide those ideas in the sales process. That way, they are not looking at your uncustomised, blank canvas-style proposal thinking, “what could I do with this?”, because, frankly, they will spend about 30 seconds thinking about those options before putting your proposal in the reject pile.
On the other hand, if you provide those ideas – an illustration of exactly how they can transform the opportunity you provide to the specific results they need – you will achieve four things:
- Your proposal will be in the very small percentage that will capture their attention and be considered. (Most are not customised and not about them in any way.)
- Your proposal will be worth more – that’s right, you can charge more – because it is results oriented.
- You are much more likely to get a “yes” because you’ve made it easy to say “yes”. In fact, many sponsors will say “yes” and then flick your proposal to a junior staffer and tell them to “make this leverage plan happen”.
- Even if they don’t say “yes” this time, you have established yourself as a credible, viable partner who really does get it. They will be happy to hear from you again.
The upshot is that you will probably send a lot fewer proposals, but they will be much more specific and much more successful.
This is a strategy that can also help you to extend your effective selling window in a short lead-time situation. Your event may be amazing, but sponsors do need time to plan and implement the leverage programs that will provide them with a marketing result. You can use these same techniques to come up with fast, low-load, creative leverage ideas – things that a sponsor can put into place quickly. This will ameliorate at least some of the lead-time factor.
If you’re considering hiring a broker or a service to write a proposal for you, be very careful. Ensure that they will be putting a lot of effort into creativity and customisation. Sending 50 or 100 or 200 uncustomised, search-and-replace proposals is not going to bring in the money or the types of sponsors you want.
Need more assistance?
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 could use some additional support, I provide sponsorship coaching, sponsorship consulting, sponsorship training, and if you need a fast, cost-effective start, you might look into the Jump Start program. If you’re interested in any of these services, please review the materials and drop me a line to discuss:
AU: +61 2 9559 6444
US: +1 612 326 5265
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