Years ago – like, seriously, twenty years ago – I did a presentation at a major conference where I called “exposure” and “awareness” the two swear words of sponsorship. After that, I used it in a few workshops and some writing, but somehow the concept stuck. Even now, I still have people quoting it back to me as a concept that changed their approach way back when.
I’m very happy that, aside from some idiot logo-counting “measurement” agencies, our industry appears to have moved a long, long way past considering exposure and awareness as an important factor in sponsorship results. Yay!
The downside? We now have a few new swear words of sponsorship. This particular raft of words are related and used by primarily by rightsholders in their sales process, showcasing their distinct lack of sophistication to the chagrin of sponsors everywhere.
Please, I’m begging… stop with the prospectuses!
I don’t care how pretty you make it, or what you call it, a brochure is a brochure and they have no place in sponsorship. I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of these, and the contents are almost interchangeable:
- An overview of the property.
- A bunch of snappy blah-di-blah about “reaching your (unspecified) target market” and becoming a “valued partner”.
- Pre-printed levels and benefits.
- No context around why it’s right for the sponsor.
- No mention of the specific objectives or target markets of the sponsor.
- No creative ideas for leverage (creating vision).
I know it’s not your intention, but this approach makes you look lazy and unsophisticated. You are much better off skipping all of the visual impact of a brochure and putting your efforts into a highly customised, crash-hot proposal that makes it easy for your contact to see the value and sell the concept internally. Substance trumps design every time.
And for those of you who think a prospectus will get you in the door, so you can follow up with a customised proposal, think again. Most of you will get one shot – ONE – to pitch, so it has to be your absolute best effort.
If you are asked to just “send me something”, that’s still no time to fall back to a prospectus. In that case, you’ve got a few options – read “What to Do if a Sponsor Says ‘Just Send Me a Proposal’” – but a prospectus isn’t one of them.
I have nothing against PowerPoint; I use it all the time. It’s a fantastic tool for stand-up presentations. What it’s really bad for is sponsorship proposals, and 99.99% of the time, that’s what the term “sponsorship deck” is referring to.
Here’s the thing: A sponsorship deck doesn’t have the structure to provide the amount of detail you need to provide so a sponsor can sell the idea internally and make a decision. It just doesn’t.
If you are going to do a stand-up presentation, go ahead and use PowerPoint, but ensure you do three things:
Fully customise the deck
It needs to be very specific about how what you’re proposing will help them enhance their relationships with their target markets and achieve their marketing and larger business goals. No two decks should be the same.
Leave out the details
PowerPoint shines when there are few words, allowing you to talk the presentation, answer questions as you go, and work collaboratively. Keep every slide simple.
Leave behind a full proposal
You can keep the slides simple because all of the written rationale and ideas will be in the full proposal that you leave with the potential sponsor. This will have lots of detail and words, but so long as it is arranged sensibly, it will be easy for a sponsor to digest and use internally.
If you’ve been lucky enough to get a meeting with a potential sponsor, for goodness sake, don’t waste a single minute of it showing them a bloody video. It’s not going to sell the sponsorship and just burns (pun intended) the precious time you could be using to deepen your understanding of their brand, their target markets, and their objectives, so you can put together a truly compelling offer.
There you go, three new swear words of sponsorship that all sponsorship seekers should immediately ban. If you do, forcing yourself to rethink what you’re actually trying to accomplish and not the mechanism you use to do it, you’ll change your whole approach. That new approach will be something that will work better for you, make sales a whole lot easier, and get you more yeses from better sponsors.
Those are your new swear words of sponsorship, but take heart that you’re not alone, and check out “The New Swear Words of Sponsorship: Sponsor Edition“.
Need more assistance?
If you could use some additional support, I provide sponsorship coaching, sponsorship consulting, and sponsorship training. 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
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