I get this question a lot. The expectation is that there will be some magic window where the yesses will be plentiful. The good news is that there is no window – you can solicit sponsorship all year ‘round. The bad news is that there is no such thing as an easy “yes”.
There are some people who would tell you that you should submit any sponsorship proposals in the few months prior to the start of the financial year. While that would, on the surface of it, seem like a reasonable approach, in my experience, it’s unnecessary and limiting.
In this blog, I’m covering why a sponsor might promote a window for sponsorship proposals, the game-changing reframe that will change everything, and what really drives your sales window.
The two biggest reasons a sponsor might promote having a specific proposal submission window have to do with the type of sponsorships they’re looking for, and the quality of proposals they get.
Some sponsors have community sponsorship portfolios, featuring a large number of relatively small sponsorships. These are often leveraged under an umbrella strategy. Individual sponsorships aren’t usually leveraged, and they don’t have to be perfect, as they’re just part of a larger whole. In those cases, sponsors often create a window for sponsorship applications, so they can allocate the whole community budget in one go. If you’re a small, community organisation, and you’re looking for a small amount of money, this could work for you. If you’re looking for a more substantial amount, being included in a cattle call of bit players will not get you what you’re looking for.
There are also some sponsorship managers request all sponsorship approaches during a specific timeframe, but it’s all about consolidating rejections. They know most of the proposals will be terrible – because most sponsorship proposals are terrible – so they allocate some time to slog through them once a year. They can then get on with the more strategic stuff – the proposals they’re more likely to consider – the rest of the year. This falls into a similar category to requiring rightsholders to submit proposals via an online form.
My advice to you is to ignore those timeframes and, largely, ignore the sponsorship managers. In 99% of cases, the best person to receive your proposal is the brand manager. This is for many reasons, not least of which is timing:
They key with making a brand manager approach work is to make the effort to deliver a totally customised proposal that is about their markets and their brand, not the property you’re selling.
So, the short answer to the title question is: There is no best time of year for sponsors, as long as you submit a great proposal to the right person.
I will say, however, that there will be timeframes that are better for you to seek sponsorship than others. This doesn’t have to do with sponsor budgeting, however, but the time it takes for sponsors to assess the proposal, commit, and then plan and implement the leverage strategy. That can take from a few months to more than a year, depending on the size and type of sponsorship. If you seek sponsorship on a long lead-time, you are much more likely to get a yes, as the sponsors will have the time to leverage the opportunity you’re selling them into the marketing results they need.
A few more resources that may assist you in developing and selling great sponsorships include:
You may also be interested in my latest white papers, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better” and “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux“.
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.
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