It wasn’t that long ago that Sponsorship was pretty straightforward. Lots of companies were enamored with the opportunity to link their brand to a team, property or venue. Call it the “halo effect”, affinity or just the popularity of sports, celebrity, music, or cause. Plenty of free spending brands wanted to latch on for the ride.
Top 6 Challenges to Getting Sponsored.
But now, the market has matured and has simultaneously become overcrowded and complex. Sponsors are very savvy. Here are my top six challenges to getting sponsored:
1 | The Firewall.
It’s not your imagination, sponsor prospects have made it very hard for you to reach them. There are so many individuals and properties seeking sponsors that they are overwhelmed. They just can’t handle the hundreds of unsolicited phone calls, emails and proposals. If you don’t already have a relationship your proposal may be referred to a website for submission, your calls won’t be returned, and your emails won’t be read.
2 | Everybody has their finger in the pie.
Everyone is a stakeholder. The sponsorship department, the CEO, the CFO, public relations, ticketing, agencies, board members, alumni, media partners and even other sponsors. Even worse each stakeholder may not see your value or have conflicting and competing objectives for funding.
3 | Turnover.
Just keeping up with who is where and what they are doing is a full time job. I recently took on a tech client who provided me with a list of sponsors from the previous year. The contacts for nearly half were no longer good.
4 | How does this help me sell hamburgers?
Do you know their business well enough to have an irresistible value proposition? Insights and information that are relevant to your prospect always strengthen your position.
5 | Lack of Proof.
Claiming that your sponsorship package is a winner is easy. Proving it is crucial.
6 | Bandwidth.
Everybody is busy. Too busy to spend a minute reading your email, listening to your phone message or taking your meeting. They have hundreds of emails to read, conference calls, a jam packed calendar and a list of priorities that may shift at any moment.
You can overcome these challenges if you are prepared.
Here are a few fundamental steps to get you on the right path.
1 | It’s not about you.
I’ve seen thousands of proposals while representing brands. Most extoll the virtues of their property and spend little or no time on the sponsor. If you are sending the same proposal to a broad list of prospects, you are wasting your time and theirs. The shotgun approach not only doesn’t work well, it irritates prospects. Make sure your proposal is relevant to that prospect, the person you are contacting, and the company’s goals and current situation. If it isn’t don’t send it just to pad your prospect list.
2 | Understand the competitive environment.
You are selling and competing against anything else the prospect could spend for to improve their business, not just other sponsorships.
3 | You must have access to data and trends.
Start with your own CRM software. Keep it up to date, fill it with relevant information about your prospects. Most of all don’t only communicate when you want to sell the prospect something. Become a trusted advisor. Prove you have their best interest in mind.
4 | Utilize resources.
Like TheListinc.com to find the right contact and their contact information. Figure out how your sponsorship can create value, and refine that value into a short proposition that will be certain to help them solve a problem that is important to them.
5 | Become an expert at LinkedIn.
You would be surprised how many positive responses you will get if you send a personalized connect request that is relevant and most of all not self-serving.
6 | Study and practice selling skills.
We have all heard the expression “It’s not what you said, it is how you said it.” Your message must be delivered in the right way at the right time, to the right person to maximize your chance at success.
For more details, please contact me.
About Larry Weil:
Sponsorship engagement strategist and customer acquisition specialist for some of the nation’s most recognized brands Larry has over $200MM in sponsorship transactions to his credit. He has a Rolodex of over 4,000 brand and industry contacts. Larry is an expert seller, negotiator, presenter, and strategist. He has successfully represented properties and sponsors in numerous categories including Conferences, Trade Shows, Convention, and Visitors Bureaus, Entertainment and Sports Properties, and Tech.