How Many Times Do You Have to Miss Your Sponsorship Target before You Change Your Approach?

How Many Times Do You Have to Miss Your Sponsorship Target before You Change Your Approach?How many times will you miss your sponsorship target?

How many times will you scramble for rats and mice sponsorship to make up a shortfall?

How many times will you ask your board to hit up their well-connected friends, because your business case isn’t getting money in the door?

How many times will you point to workload, economic conditions, unreasonable sponsors who “just don’t get it”, or sheer bad luck, when you fail to balance the bottom line?

How many excuses will you make?

At some point, your excuses and workarounds just aren’t going to cut it anymore, and your organisation will need to accept that it’s nobody’s fault but yours. Yeah, I know… sounds harsh. But if any of the above sounds familiar, you need to change your trajectory and change it now.

Nobody has that much bad luck

Even if you do sponsorship perfectly, there will be situations that are out of your control that stop a deal from getting done. There will be some bad luck. It happens.

But when you’re only signing up a small fraction of the sponsors you’re approaching, and there’s always some bad luck reason behind it, it’s a mirage. Nobody has that much bad luck. It’s far more likely that…

  • You’re targeting the wrong brands
  • You’re not targeting the real decision-makers
  • You’re not making any real effort to understand what they’re about, who they target, and what they need
  • You’re not making a compelling offer
  • You don’t have enough lead time
  • You don’t know rejection, when you see it
  • You reek of desperation, arrogance, or both

I could go on and on… and on and on and on. It could be any of these things – it could be all of them – but if you are doing any of the above, you’re not going to have any luck. It’s like fishing with no bait on the hook.

Sponsorship isn’t getting harder

Sponsorship isn’t getting harder any more than mobile phones are getting harder.

If you don’t embrace best practice sponsorship and learn the new skills, you’re the rightsholder equivalent of trying to find the number pad on your smartphone, so you can send a text.

Sure, you need a different skillset to run your iPhone than you did your old, Nokia dumbphone, but once you have that skillset, all of the advances that have gone into putting that supercomputer in your pocket actually make your life easier.

Sponsorship is exactly the same. Once you’ve embraced the new skillset, selling and servicing sponsorship becomes easier. But if you don’t embrace best practice sponsorship and learn the new skills, you’ll be the rightsholder equivalent of trying to find the number pad on your smartphone, so you can send a text.

Sponsors aren’t getting more demanding, they’re getting smarter

Sponsors do want more from you – more flexibility, creativity, and understanding of their business. They want research and insights, and a proposal they can use to sell internally. And, frankly, they want you to understand where your value lies, because more often than not, it’s not what you’re pitching.

And why do they want all of this? They want all this so they can make the fan experience better for your fans. They want all this so they can leverage in potentially dozens of meaningful ways. They want all this so they can deepen alignment with their target markets. They want all this so they can get great returns across many objectives, many markets, and a long time-frame. In short, everything a best practice sponsor does to extract value from a sponsorship is also good for you.

But make no mistake about it; sponsors aren’t playing with this hard-fought sophistication. They’ve got thousands upon thousands of options for sponsorship, and they’re not going to mess around with a partner whose skills aren’t up-to-date. They know that equates to more time, more resources, and lower returns.

Up your game or lower your targets

When it comes right down to it, your organisation has only two choices:

  1. Lower your sponsorship targets, and be prepared to keep lowering them. This is a fundamental change in how sponsorship is done, not a pendulum that’s going to swing back to old-school strategies.
  2. Accept that it’s not the sponsors, the economy, or bad luck that’s making your sponsorship targets more difficult, year-on-year. It’s you. It’s your organisation’s approach, skill-set, and commitment to resourcing sponsorship appropriately, and that it’s time to re-evaluate and rebuild your sponsorship program into something that works for you and for sponsors.

Where to start

Best practice sponsorship makes more sense than any generation that has come before it. It’s more intuitive, multifaceted, and useful, as a marketing tool. It’s more valuable to sponsors, and the right approach will absolutely shift you to a position where you have fewer, bigger sponsors (and won’t that be nice?).

If you’re ready to bite the bullet, here are a few places to start:

  • Get a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition. This will take you through the whole sponsorship process, supported by lots of templates and tools. Pro tip: Buy the hardcopy, not the ebook. You’ll want it as a desk reference.
  • Register for my comprehensive online training for rightsholders, Getting to “Yes”. Like the book, this will take you through the whole sponsorship process, demonstrating all of the key skills along the way.
  • Read my latest white papers, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux“, for a primer on how sponsorship really works, and “Disruptive Sponsorship”, for the cutting-edge trends. This could also be a very good tool to shock your senior execs or board into supporting change.
  • Watch “Sponsorship Proposal Basics in About 15 Minutes”. Note, fifteen minutes won’t give you all the information you need to develop a compelling offer, but it will show you an outline of how a great proposal is structured, and why.
  • If you’ve got a team seeking sponsorship, get some high-quality in-house training on sponsorship. It’s often useful to incorporate a short, crash course for your board or executive committee, as well. (Let an outside expert deal with the politics!) If it’s just you, enroll in a quality workshop. For skill-building, a workshop is more appropriate than a conference.

Need more assistance?

If you need additional assistance, 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 decentralised organisations. I’ve also got self-paced, online sponsorship training courses, covering the whole sponsorship process, with lots of inclusions. Interested? Check out the Corporate Sponsorship Masterclass for sponsors and Getting to “Yes” for rightsholders. Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.

Please note, I do not offer a sponsorship broker service, and can’t sell sponsorship on your behalf. You may find someone appropriate on my sponsorship broker registry.

© Kim Skildum-Reid. All rights reserved. To enquire about republishing or distribution, please see the blog and white paper reprints page.

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