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What is Sponsorship and How Does it Work?

The Sponsorship Guy Blog What is Sponsorship and how does it work?

I am often asked, what is sponsorship? It used to be a pretty simple answer. Most people think of sports sponsorships like McDonald’s and the U.S. Olympic team, or Bud Light and the NFL. There are many easy examples to see in sports and so it is a good place to start, but it really has grown to include, causes, not for profits, non-sporting events, associations, municipalities, airports and all kinds of social media.

My formal shot at a definition is: Sponsorship is a form of affinity marketing that provides certain rights and benefits to the buyer or “sponsor”. It is usually in conjunction with a property, venue, personality, or event. Most often the sponsors may use the images and logo of the partner and call themselves an official sponsor of the property. Sponsorship is particularly effective when the sponsor and the property have similar goals, values and vision. Properly activated this affiliation casts a “halo” or conveys certain characteristics to the sponsor as a result of the strong recognition or fan base of the property.

Sponsorship is much more than an outfield sign at a baseball park or a logo on a racecar. Sponsorship provides, business access, connections, hospitality, affinity, audience access, data, and helps to shape public perception in a way that can be hard to achieve using your own marketing and branding efforts alone. Sponsors and properties working together can create a broader reach and shared objectives, multiplying the resources they have and leveraging the combined power of the relationship.

Sponsorship is much more than advertising. Well-conceived sponsorships include an investment in activation. Activation is a term that is used to describe the specific ways in which the sponsored properties assets will be utilized. This could include, physical space and interaction with fans or followers, direct contact via email or direct mail, special features and offers to brand customers, hospitality, entertainment and many other forms of engagement.

Sponsorship is as effective in a B to B application as a B to C application. Many municipalities have addressed their funding issues by selling naming rights for parks and buildings, train stations and more. The real key is to find an organic linkage. One that makes sense to the public. Initially most sponsorships were endemic, like tires and tools for race teams. But as time has gone on the industry has learned that certain fans have loyalty to sponsors of the sport, community or cause that they care about. That is how we wind up with M&M’s on a race car and pink ribbons on a can of soup.

In my experience the real key to success with sponsorship is finding the insights that connect consumers and businesses. The time, the place, the feeling that connects them and creates preference, recognition, learning and buying. When it works we all get it. Sometimes we don’t get it because we aren’t the target. Other times it is off the mark. It is like making a delicious meal, most people can tell if it looks nice and tastes good. But, making the recipe, knowing the ingredients and the proper preparation is something that takes experience and a willingness to develop the insights that separate your deal from the crowd.

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.

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Preparing to Get a Sponsor: Rule #1 Sponsors are Not Investors

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - Man tearing paper in half

Sponsors are risk averse. That’s right. They must know that a property or partnership can deliver what they say. I get inquiries every week from well-meaning individuals with underdeveloped concepts. It could be a concert series, a festival, a race team. They all have one thing in common: as soon as they get sponsorship money they will start putting their project together.

It just doesn’t work that way. Sponsors are looking to move their business forward. They don’t need to take a chance on unproven or unlaunched concepts. If they have a concept they like that is new or unproven, they will launch it themselves. Think Red Bull. They have created almost all of their properties from scratch. But they own them and control them.

If you have an idea, you need to know that they are going to want to see results, numbers, attendance, web traffic. Sponsors can spend their money on lots of established properties. These properties can supply demographics, surveys, case studies, attendance, web and social platforms. The sponsor can then extrapolate the value and alignment from the data. They can’t do that with an idea.

I got a call from a very bright guy this week who is looking to start a film festival. He wanted to know where he should start so that his property will be attractive to sponsors in a few years. That is a good way to do it. Create a property with the kind of benefits and features that are valuable to sponsors. Grow it organically, prove there is an audience, define the audience and grow the audience.

Now if you have heavyweight credentials in an industry such as music or events and want to approach a sponsor based on your resume that could work; but you will be armed with the data and insights that an expert in your category can articulate to the prospective sponsor.

Always keep in mind that sponsors can choose to invest or not. Established sponsors are bombarded with hundreds of proposal each month. If you are going to stand out you better know what they need and prove that you can deliver it.

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.

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Moving the Needle: Quality and Quantity Required

Moving the Needle: Quality and Quantity Required

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.

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Why Would I Share These Secrets? Two Tools You Must Have

The Sponsorship Guy Blog Why would I share these secrets? Two Tools You Must Have

Many of us have heard the expression that a carpenter is only as good as his (or her) tools. The application to any kind of sales, but especially sponsorship sales is pretty obvious. But you can’t talk about tools without talking about mastery.

I recently had a conversation with someone who I consider to be a pretty good sales person. She brings enthusiasm to every sponsorship project. She was telling me about an interview she had in which the executive she was speaking with was very impressed by her response to his question about how she goes about getting ideas for new sponsorship prospects. Paraphrasing, she said that she got ideas from reading the paper, television, billboards, and all kinds of advertising; that ideas were all around her. He totally agreed and was impressed (I presume) by the fact that her “radar” was always on. But here is the problem: By the time you read about it in the paper, see it on TV etc. it is probably too late. The campaign has already been launched, the strategy determined, the tactics set. The blood is in the water. Everyone else has seen the same things. Hundreds if not thousands of motivated sellers are bombarding the prospect and your job is much, much harder.

I made all of those mistakes. I put in a ton of work trying to figure out how to break through the clutter and share what I was sure would be of value to the prospect that I had identified. But it was very time consuming and was way too much work for the results. I knew I was missing something. I was very fortunate to come across an author who did the best job of articulating the problem and the solution, Jill Konrath. Her book, Selling to Big Companies was a game changer for me. She succinctly explained the problem: everyone is crazy busy, which is made worse by the overwhelming barrage of off target, buzz word filled emails, voice mails and self-serving elevator pitches. I have given out dozens of copies of her book over the years in an attempt to help frustrated, hardworking sellers. One of the subjects that she tackles is triggering events. Being focused on getting to the prospect before it is announced in the paper, TV etc.

There are many ways to do this, and some such as setting up Google Alerts is a good one. But my favorite by a mile is TheListInc.com (Now AARPartners.com). Not only is it a comprehensive data base that allows you to search for prospects in every imaginable way, it provides updates via its Daily Vista with triggering events already identified. It contains media spends, company data, executive profiles (with their direct contact information). I used to spend a ton on having assistants and interns scouring the internet. But this is so much more efficient. They even have a free trial, so you would have to be lazy not to take them up on it.

Why would I share this kind of insight? You might compete with me one day. I had this conversation with Jill Konrath years ago. Most people don’t act. They don’t finish the book, they don’t practice, and as a result they don’t master the skills they need. They either wash out or spend years working hard but not getting very far. So the answer really is because that the few of you who actually finish the book, master the skills, pay for the resources and master them will completely change their sponsorship sales life. And hopefully they will remember they read it here.

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.

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How to Overcome 6 Fundamental Obstacles to Selling Sponsorship

The Sponsorship Blog How to Overcome Six Fundamental Obstacles to Selling Sponsorship

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.

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Who Killed Authenticity?

The Sponsorship Guy Blog Who Killed Authenticity?

Creative types spend large amounts of time trying to dig into brands searching for the “authentic” essence and finding the exact image, quote, music, color palette or story that evokes a feeling that something is real. We see and hear the word authentic attached to “experience”, “taste” and even “replica”. Our perception that something is or isn’t authentic can evoke an emotional or even visceral response for good or bad. It can make us angry, sad, happy, reflective or even get us to buy something.

In a world of clickbait, it seems like a paradox that some subset of the very folks that bombard us with messages to influence our purchasing behavior by any means necessary, would preach authenticity. We use our perception of what is real and true to help us sort through the overwhelming load of information we deal with every day. It is a great tool.

I was watching a segment about Donald Trump quoting scripture while at Liberty University last night. My reaction was based on my impression that his inability to properly quote scripture and his excessively profuse praise of The Bible as being the only book better than his own; “The Art of the Deal”, evoked a visceral response. To me it was a straight up demonstration of pandering to an audience without regard for the audience. It certainly didn’t help his cause with me, and probably not anyone else.

A few weeks before, there was a debate among commentators as to whether or not President Obama’s tears when talking about child victims of mass shootings were authentic. So perhaps authenticity isn’t about being true or being false it is about the perception of being real.

Think about how we use the term “authentication” today. When computers connect our passwords and security software “authenticate” that it is really us. If a document is “authenticated” that doesn’t mean it is true or false, it just means it is what it claims to be.

In the marketing world, authenticity has fallen victim to overuse as a selling style, rather than as a value. Let’s face the fact that some marketers have to create an authentic seeming veneer, because if we knew the reality was simply to meet the 4th quarter sales goal they wouldn’t have any story to tell.

And sadly even if something is authentic, it may not be perceived such. But every now and then we see an image or hear a phrase that we know is authentic. Not because it was crafted, but because it came forth spontaneously, unvarnished, raw and true. When that happens no one needs to attach the word. We just know.

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.

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7 Ways Submitting Sponsorship Proposals is Just Like Tinder (But Without the Good Parts)

The Sponsorship Guy Blog Submitting Sponsorship Proposals is Just Like Tinder (but without the good parts)

You busted your hump to put together a great proposal. You checked out your prospect on their website, set up a Google alert, researched key people on LinkedIn. You sent it. Nothing, Nada, Crickets…

For those of you who don’t know how Tinder works or even what it is, here is the short version. For those of you who do, skip to the next paragraph. Tinder is a dating – hookup site where you submit a picture and a profile and it does some analytics and you come up in the feed of “compatible” matches. You scroll through pictures and swipe right for the ones you are interested in and swipe left to keep looking.

When you send in your sponsorship intro, offer or proposal, the only analytics are the ones you have done, and you aren’t in a marketplace that sponsors have come to looking for love. So here is what probably happened:

1 | You actually thought that someone would open, read, consider or forward your proposal.

The truth is that like Tinder, There are hundreds or thousand of choices that sponsors are flooded with.

2 | Bandwidth.

They aren’t sitting on their couch focused on finding a sponsorship. Your emails are squeezed in between the hundred plus other emails they are trying to sort through while they are multitasking between meetings and conference calls.

3 | You have an uninspiring picture.

I avoided saying ugly but you get the metaphor. So like tinder they will look at your email subject (think picture) and decide if they will open, delete, or save to the “maybe later” folder. You should have the best picture ever taken of you posted. If it isn’t, head straight to Glamour Shots!

4 | You didn’t optimize for mobile.

Take out your phone. Open email. How many words do you see in the subject line? That’s how much space you have to work with. That’s where your compelling and short value proposition (reason to open) must fit. Around half or more of emails are read on a mobile device, adapt.

5 | Don’t confuse activity with progress.

You thought if you sent it to enough prospects you would get some responses. Really?Don’t confuse activity with progress. You may get responses from poor prospects and then you will swipe left.

6 | You give up too easily.

You have heard it before and it is still true that it takes an average of 7 touches to get a response. Keep iterating, refining and improving.

7 | Maybe the best place to meet the prospect you want isn’t Tinder (email).

Try the phone, network, their agency. It isn’t ok to stalk a person for personal reasons, but you may have to be obsessive to get your deal.

In part two we will move from the stop doing these things wrong into some suggestions on doing it right.

 

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.

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Why No One Responds to Your Sponsorship Pitch!

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - The word Nope on a piece of paper pinned to a cork notice board

Let’s not kid ourselves. You don’t want to answer the phone and get a sales pitch and neither does your prospect. So how do you sell without a sales pitch?

Stop selling. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. If someone sends you an email, reaches out on LinkedIn, leaves a voice mail or actually reaches you live, what would keep your attention?

Think about it. REALLY. Stop and think. How many emails do you scan the subject line and delete? Do you let the phone go to voice mail if you don’t recognize the number? Why? It is literally the only way to get anything done. You have to make choices and your prospect is exactly the same. Your beautifully crafted email with the attached overview, never get’s opened.

I use an extension for Chrome called Yesware. One of the things it does is track open rates. Another thing it does is show you if someone opened your attachment. The bitter truth is most of your emails will never get opened. I was shocked to find that a typical slide deck gets about 2 seconds a slide and maybe 10 seconds on one slide and 90 minutes if they leave for lunch in the middle of your deck.

Here is what works:

  1. Be specific about what benefit your bring. Not some generic B.S. about being the leading blah, blah, blah.
  2. Understand the job of the prospect and what they are evaluated upon. What is success to them.
  3. Keep it short. It is actually harder to write something short and concise, but it is worth it.

Here is an example from real life. I was prospecting using the LinkedIn “In Mail” function:

Here are the first post (didn’t work) and 3 weeks later the second post (which did):


Hey, I wrote both of these. The first one is to vague in the subject line and talks about someone else. then the close is weak. the second one gets right to the  point: Lead Gen. I make the connection to the service they provide and that I understand how they measure performance. By the way. This is the CMO of a nationally known company, that I am not connected to.

Writing is a skill. Selling is a skill. Keep learning and practicing. And don’t give up.

 

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.