The Number One Job of a Sponsorship Proposal (and It’s Not What You Think)

Pyramid of pebblesYou spend a lot of time crafting your pitch – what you are going to say to pique a sponsor’s interest and the proposal you leave behind. I know you do – particularly as so many of you ask my advice about proposals every single day!

There are a number of sponsorship proposal basics that you need to take on board, many of which you can find in my tutorial, Sponsorship Proposal Basics in About 10 Minutes. And if you need a sponsorship proposal template, you can find a good one in The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition.

That’s all well and good, but before you even think of preparing a proposal, you need to know what its primary role is:

The #1 job of a sponsorship proposal is not to sell to the sponsor.

The #1 job of a sponsorship proposal is to help your contact sell it internally.

Your contact may have lots of clout and a big fat budget, but what they don’t have is the ability to integrate a sponsorship across multiple marketing initiatives run by different business units. To do that, they need buy-in and commitment from a range of stakeholders. Great sponsors don’t commit until after they’ve got buy-in.

So when I’m asked about how many pages a sponsorship deck should be, my alarm bells ring. A Powerpoint deck does not have the format or scope to provide the level of detail your key contact needs to sell the concept internally. Go ahead, present with a deck if you need to, but leave behind a proposal that makes the full business case without you.

The very most important part of that proposal is the section outlining leveraging ideas. When you brainstorm those ideas – again, the process is outlined in The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit – be sure to provide ideas that work across business units. Include ideas for sales, social media, HR, customer retention, intermediary markets, VIPs, and whatever other divisions who could benefit. This gives your contact the hooks to get those internal stakeholders interested – to create vision for them.

So, as flashy and slick as you want your presentation to be, understand that’s not what the decision will be based on. The decision will be based on the document you leave behind – the full proposal – that will create the relevance, the power, and the business case for the investment you are seeking.

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