It’s Not the Size of the Sponsorship, It’s What You Do with It


“We sponsor a great little organisation, but their reach is so small, how do we make this work for our brand?”

“Our event is so small, but we really need sponsorship. How do we get big sponsors interested?”

Good questions. Important questions. And questions I hear a lot. Fortunately, the answer isn’t really that complicated. Here’s the thing – and it’s equally important for both sponsors and sponsorship seekers:

It’s not the size of the property that matters,
it’s the relevance to the sponsor’s target markets.

Let’s just say for a moment that you’re a new sponsorship or brand manager, and when you review the portfolio, you see that your company is sponsoring a depression charity in one state or city (take your pick). Your first impression might be, “We’re a national brand. What am I supposed to do with this?” But you’d be overlooking a potentially great opportunity.

Why? Because although the number of people that the charity serves may be relatively limited, and the donor list the same, the proportion of your brand’s national target market that is affected by depression would be substantial. The question then shifts from “what do we do with this sponsorship?” to “how do we use this sponsorship to help our target markets?”. Given the amount of expertise your partner has, chances are, you could do quite a lot.

You could provide credible advice and coping skills in your employee communications, information about how to recognise depression on your website or monthly statements or product packaging, or situational advice. It won’t matter that the information is coming from a local or state organisation, so long as it is strong and credible.

You can take the same approach when sponsoring a marathon or conference or whatever. Think about what the event/property knows or has that would be useful to your larger target market. How to choose or train for your first marathon? Industry trends from a heavy-hitting conference keynote?

The upshot for sponsors is that you should stop worrying about the size of what you’re sponsoring. If it is both credible and relevant to your market, use well-selected IP (intellectual property) to make the event “bigger”.

For smaller sponsorship seekers wondering how to tap major sponsors, you need to stop talking about your target market. If it’s small, it is only going to be of limited interest to a major sponsor. Instead, talk about how whatever it is that you do is interesting and relevant to the sponsor’s target market. Make IP – your expertise, advice, behind-the-scenes information, or whatever – your biggest selling point. Give the sponsor creative ideas for how they can use your IP and watch your value soar.

Need more assistance?

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.


Updated and reposted. Originally posted November 2009.

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