A while back, there was a social media stir about an over-the-top rejection letter sent to 900 candidates for a job in the IT industry. Thousands of people complained about the tone and wordiness, and there was a great deal of how-dare-they attitude on display. To an extent, I agree. The tone was condescending and it was way too long and self-important. But the people complaining seemed to be missing the point inherent in the writer’s frustration: If there are 900 applicants for only a handful of jobs, being careless or wacky or not following instructions is not going to get you one of them.
What does this have to do with sponsorship? A lot.
Some sponsors receive hundreds, or even thousands, of sponsorship proposals for every one that they actually consider. Most of them aren’t good matches for their needs, but a lot of them could have some scope, if they were presented in a way that showcased the real opportunity for the sponsor.
So, on behalf of frustrated sponsors everywhere, here’s the rejection letter they wish they could send:
Dear [Rightsholder] –
While we wish we could thank you for the submission of your sponsorship proposal, that would be a lie, as the proposal you sent has wasted both your time and ours.
Despite the fact that we have posted comprehensive sponsorship guidelines on our website, you have either not reviewed them, or you have reviewed them and decided it wasn’t worth your while to develop a customised offer that meets those criteria. Either way, that lack of effort speaks volumes about your organisation’s sophistication and responsiveness.
Please understand that we receive hundreds of sponsorship proposals every month. We simply don’t have time to sift through all the pages of meaningless, self-involved hoo-ha about your property to find any scrap of relevance to our brand and our markets. If you want our money, the proposal needs to be about meeting our objectives with our target markets.
The opportunity you’ve presented may have had real value for our brand – it may have been a candidate for consideration – but the lack of care and professionalism in your presentation means that we will never know.
We have a lot of choice. It’s a buyer’s market. If you want your offer to be considered, you need to put in the research and effort up front, or you simply won’t be successful.
Sincerely, The Sponsor
Too blunt? Maybe. A little sharp? Probably. But is it what some rightsholders really need to hear? Absolutely. In fact, I can guarantee that many of the “all our funds are currently committed letters” you’ve received could easily have been the above letter, if the sponsor was a little less polite.
Rightsholders, you’ve got one shot, and you’ve got to make it good. Seeking sponsorship isn’t something you can phone in, and expect to be successful. It’s a lot of work, and it takes specific skills. If you need those skills, here are some good places to start:
And for those of you sponsors that don’t have sponsorship guidelines, you really need a set. The number of proposals you receive will drop and the quality of the ones you do get will rise. For a big running start, you can download my Sponsorship Guidelines Template.
You may be interested in my white papers, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.
If you need additional assistance, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large, diverse, and decentralised organisations. 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.