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5 Tips to Fix Your Call Reluctance and Win More Deals

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - Business woman on the phone

Would you rather call or email a prospect? Sure, you can send off a bunch of emails, (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t) but we all know the data on email conversions. Has anyone ever responded to an email by thanking you and saying that they are ready to buy? My experience is that you are much more likely to have a break through from a phone conversation than an email.

So why don’t you make more calls? Call reluctance and fear of rejection results in procrastination. Do you recognize any of these symptoms (excuses)?

  • It’s too early call. It’s after 5. It’s lunch time.
  • I will call right after I (fill in the blank).
  • People don’t answer their phones, and I don’t like leaving voice mail.

If you are going to be successful you are going to have to face up to the fact that you are going to have to make phone calls. Here is how to get over your reluctance and have successful calls:

1 | Know your value proposition.

No one want to hear you prattle on about how great your company is, its cutting-edge technology or how it is the industry leader. What can you do for them? What problems do they have that you can fix? When you call, tell them how you just helped their competitor reduce costs by 15%, improve average transaction speed by 30%. Check my favorite sales book Selling to Big Companies, by Jill Konrath. $10 on Amazon. A classic on how to break through to busy executives.

2 | Turn your cold call into a warm call.

Don’t you dare call and say, “I’d like to learn about your company’s needs” or anything of the kind. They are too busy. LinkedIn groups are full of rants about how much people hate that. At the very minimum, look them up on LinkedIn, confirm that they are likely to be the right person, or can get you to the right person. Review their website, and Google the company and click on the news tab. You will come away with something to open the conversation: “I see your new initiative targets millennials; our event has thousands in your key markets”.

3 | Use a script.

I frequently hear people tell me they don’t like scripts because they don’t sound natural. My response is always that every academy award winning performance you have ever seen is based on a script and dozens of rehearsals. One of the most common reasons that people stumble during calls is because they are trying to figure out what they are going to say while they are talking. You can create a decision tree for any script based on responses. Knowing what you are going to say allows you to be and sound comfortable which is much more likely to get you a positive response.

4 | Know when to move on.

Some prospects are just going to be a no. Even if you think they are wrong you will waste more time trying to change their minds than it is worth. Move on to the next call.

5 | Study and Practice.

If you want to get in shape you wouldn’t expect to go to the gym and start bench pressing 200lbs the first day. Call your own phone and leave a message that you would leave your prospect. How did you sound? It’s no different than checking yourself in the mirror before you head out the door. You should know how you sound. Do you sound upbeat and positive or like you are grinding it out?

Tip | Don’t call your best prospects first.

Call your least important prospects first. Consider them a tune up. If you mess up with them you haven’t lost a big opportunity.

I have had plenty of people tell me that I’m a “natural” on the phone. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my twenties, I had horrible stage fright and would have done anything to avoid making a telephone sales call. Really the only difference now is that I have lots and lots of practice and experience. I still prepare for making calls every time. I make sure my value proposition is on target, that I have a premise for why I am helping my prospect be successful, I use my script and I don’t get my feelings hurt if it is a no. A no just means I’m getting closer to my next yes.
Most of all keep in mind that if you are doing it right that you are going to help your prospect be more successful, get promoted, maybe even turn around their business. You may be opening the door to a long-term business relationship. They may really need your product or service, the only thing in the way of them buying may be your ability to pick up the phone.

For more details, please contact me.

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I told them no 5x. Then I did my homework…

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - African Woman, African Muzik Magazine

With 20 years in the sponsorship business I like to think I can separate the winners and losers quickly. Efficiency has become a necessity because I get approached by hundreds of properties each month.

So when I was contacted by The Second Annual African Muzik Magazine awards my first reaction was: I don’t know anything about this channel, how can I possibly be the right guy to represent this property? But they persisted and so I dug in and did my homework.

It quickly became obvious that I almost passed on a great property that the mainstream knows almost nothing about.

I had to dig, but here are a few highlights:

  • Not only is there a great awards show, but the fan base on Facebook has over 500,000 likes and a reach of over 21 million.
  • The demographics for African Immigrants are higher in education, income and home ownership than the U.S. average, by a lot.
  • The brand loyalty and use of social media is double the national average.

It was like finding the secret fishing hole that almost no one knows about. And isn’t that one of the biggest problems we marketers have? Dealing with the noise of over marketing in our channels?

I was so tied up in making quick judgments that I almost passed on a real jewel. We are having great success with our outreach. It took time to distill their messaging and perfect the outreach and now we can see the path to continued growth for many years.

P.S. I wrote this to share the business lesson that I learned from a prospective client. If you would like to know more about the African Muzik Magazine Awards please contact me.

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4 Event Technologies Transforming Sponsorship

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - Crowd of Business People at Trade Show Booth
This post was originally published on the Eventbrite blog. Read the original post here.

Event sponsorship used to be simple. Event creators identified generic forms of exposure — like ticket giveaways, trade show booths, and logo placements — and sold them to brands.

But if you still rely on this technique, you won’t win brands over. Today’s sponsors have access to digital marketing tools that help them reach their target audience more easily and at a lower cost.

If you want to sell sponsorship today, you’ll need to match the return that brands get from digital ads. That’s where the latest event technology comes in. Here is how you can use new tech to pave the way for innovative and more valuable event sponsorship opportunities.

Mobile event apps

Mobile event apps are a staple of modern events. These interactive apps empower attendees to take control of their own experiences — and stay connected to all your event has to offer.

Using an announcement feature available on most mobile event apps, you can send attendees targeted messages. This means you can send a personalized invitation to attend a demo from a major sponsor or catch a session they’re likely to enjoy.

You can also send an alert to attendees letting them know about the sponsored lounge areas — the ideal place to meet a colleague.

Wifi analytics

Offering Wifi at your event helps attendees stay productive while they’re out the office. What you might not realize is that encouraging attendees to use your Wifi gives you additional insights you can share with sponsors.

Modern Wifi options allow you to gather analytics about your attendee’s internet usage — from what devices they used to their general demographics and everything else in between.

Understanding your audience — especially what products and services they’re most interested in — is the foundation of successful event sponsorship. Ask your venue or Wifi provider what data you can collect and use the information to attract potential event sponsors.

Proximity technology

From RFID to Bluetooth low energy “beacons,” proximity technology provides insight into what happens during your event. Attendees use these small and inexpensive devices to broadcast their location to friends and colleagues attending the event with them, as well as check into sessions.

For sponsors, this tech can show how often attendees visited the trade show floor and which booths they stopped by the most. Beacons can also prompt event-goers to check out a sponsor’s booth when they come near it. This insight enables you to optimize traffic to high profile sponsors and quantify their ROI (return on investment).

VR and AR

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have graduated from buzzwords to must-have event tech. According to a recent survey, 88% of event creators planned to use VR in 2018.

These technologies can personalize the event experience — either by opening it up to new fans who aren’t present or to add a new dimension for attendees at the event. They’re also becoming a popular choice for sponsorship activation.

For example, at SWSX McDonalds used VR to transport attendees inside a Happy Meal box. Once inside, they could use virtual paint brushes, balloons, and lasers to decorate the walls. After they finished, attendees could share their creations on social media — giving McDonalds exposure to their networks.

At another event, commercial van manufacturer FCA used AR to show off a new line of vans — with only one van physically present. Attendees could be customized the van with tablets to test different color schemes. AR let the company showcase all of their models without.

Evaluate your “sponsorship readiness”

Using the above event technology can help you gather valuable insight, create engaging sponsorship opportunities, and increase sponsorship revenue. But tech will only have an impact if you’re already what I call “sponsorship ready.”

To see if you’re ready to attract big sponsors, get this tip sheet to learn nine rules for event sponsorship success.


For more details, please contact me. 

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9 Tips to be “Event Sponsor Ready”

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - Blog - Are you read? Road


This post was originally published on the Eventbrite blog. Read the original post here.

Rules for event sponsorship success

Sponsorship is a $62.7 billion industry. Its annual growth has surpassed other forms of marketing and advertising. With so much spending, your chances of winning event sponsors could be increasing — right?

Sponsorship expert Larry Weil says the answer greatly depends on what he calls your “sponsorship readiness.”

“Most people aren’t ‘sponsor ready’,’” says Weil. “It takes a lot of effort to put on an event, so I understand why. But if you want to find and secure the right sponsors for your event, you need to be prepared for sponsorship too.”

Using these rules, Weil has helped hundreds of sponsorship sellers — from sports and entertainment to conferences and consumer events — increase revenues. If you want to sell high value sponsorships, evaluate your process and integrate them.

1 | Don’t Procrastinate

“Sponsorship sales is an iterative process. It takes time to build a relationship and get commitment,” says Weil. “In a perfect world, you should start 18 months in advance of your event. No matter when you start, it has to be before your prospect’s budget planning cycle begins.”

2 | Stay Focused

What you do with your time also determines the quality of your event sponsors. “A few minutes on Google or LinkedIn isn’t going to help you find the right sponsors for your event,” says Weil. “It takes dedicated concentration, focused intent to determine whether or not someone makes a great sponsor.”

Your action item: Block an hour (or two) to focus on this task. Make sure to shut out distractions like social media and email. This exercise will ensure you don’t just find the perfect sponsor — it’s a more productive use of your time. Studies show that people who focus on avoid multitasking have increased productivity and engagement.

Relentless focus also ensures you’ll learn more about each potential sponsor, something that will help you out when you reach the decision maker.

Who buys sponsorship?

The process of identifying sponsors for your event (called prospecting) starts by listing companies who could sponsor your event. But once you’re ready to make contact, who should you talk to? Who’s the decision maker?

“Finding the person who makes sponsorship decisions can be a lot like finding a light switch in the dark,” says Weil. “Their professional titles will vary wildly from company to company. But I’ve come across a few common ones that serve as a good starting point for my clients.”

People who buy sponsorships often have titles such as:

  • Brand managers
  • Business development executives
  • Marketing executives
  • Product placement executives
  • Sponsorship executives
  • Communications and PR executives

3 | Know Your Value Prop

“Event sponsors want to know one thing: what’s in it for them?” says Weil. “Don’t waste a prospective sponsor’s time until you know their business and understand how your event will help them grow.”

What do sponsors want? Weil can sum it up in 5 words, “Anything that improves their business.” Use your knowledge of attendees to discover the brands and products or services they love. After listing potential sponsors, have an open discussion with your team about each segment of your audience and how valuable they really are to each sponsor.

Not sure where to start? Contact Larry Weil>>

4 | Choose Your Words Wisely

Sponsors get bombarded with requests. Using the same, generic words won’t help you stand out. “Avoid saying things like ‘state of the art’ and ‘out of the box’ when speaking to sponsors. These terms are overused and add nothing of value to your offerings.”

Instead, focus on your value prop. “Remember: it’s about them, not you. Lead with your value prop. Write email subject lines and leave voicemail messages that speak to their business objectives.”

5 | Don’t Send Unsolicited Proposals

“People send out their unsolicited proposal or presentation and wonder why no one responds,” Weil says. “It doesn’t work like that. You need to establish a relationship and get to know their needs first. Then, once you’ve confirmed their interests, present your proposal — preferably in person.”

The best method of contact? According to Weil, the phone is mightier than the email.

6 | Keep a Comprehensive Sponsorship Inventory on Hand

The chances you’ll connect with a decision maker who wants to get down to brass tacks and asks for the pitch are low. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the opportunity. “You never know when a prospective sponsor will be ready to talk business,” Weil warns. “If you have a comprehensive list of your sponsorship inventory with you, it enables you to respond with concrete examples that meet their needs.”

Whether you keep a print out in your briefcase or spreadsheet in the cloud doesn’t matter. Just make sure you’re ready to take advantage of their interest.

7 | Let Them Name Their Price

Once you’ve researched the market rate and set a price for your sponsorship assets, Weil suggests keeping your calculations close to the chest. “Don’t advertise the price of your sponsorship on your website or sponsorship materials. When you meet with sponsors, help them calculate how much the opportunity with worth to them. If you break this rule, you could be leaving money on the table.”

8 | Beware of Information Overload

“If you want someone to delete your email without hesitation, send them a long-winded, 600-word email explaining every intricate detail about your event,” Weil says. “If you’re worried you’ll leave out something that will win over your prospect — don’t. Keep it short and simple. No one’s going to read a long email if you haven’t established a relationship first.”

9 | Know When to Give Up

Be prepared to move on to the next prospect, quickly. “It is unlikely that you can convince a prospect who lacks interest or has told you no to change their mind,” says Weil. “Don’t waste your time or theirs. Keep going. Find the prospect who needs what you are offering.”

Ready for the next step?

Selling a high value sponsorship is a step-by-step process. The first step is to capture their interest. Build toward the sale with incremental increases in information, confirming alignment and listening at every stage. Your prospect will help you put together the perfect deal if you let them.

Get in touch to get started >>

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Set Client Expectations or Pay the Price

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy - Business Team with hands in the middle like a sports team

We are a couple of months into the project and I am running into an unforeseen roadblock – client expectations.

Recently, I was on a call that I thought went pretty well. I had a “C” level executive from the client who originally made an introduction and wanted to listen in on a call as I initiated the sales process. It was a good start. I learned about the new prospect’s business, how they like to sell and how they identify qualified prospects. Most importantly, I got them to agree to continue engagement about sponsorship opportunities. A couple days later I got feedback that the executive on the call was saying the call didn’t go well.

I was completely stunned by that perception.

Granted that person isn’t in sales, but they are an influencer. So after I allowed myself some time to think about it I realized that I should have spent time setting expectations. A couple of days later, I came across an article from a colleague of mine that I found to be very insightful. It is a post by Chris Baylis of The Sponsorship Collective and can be seen here in its entirety: The Art of Overcoming Objectives

Essentially it is the story of how Chris as a new sponsorship salesperson was interpreting common excuses like “we don’t have the budget right now” and “Let me think about it” as meaning no. In the story, Chris’s boss explains that only no means no and that these responses are clues to dig deeper.

It really hit me that the client stakeholders need my help to understand what I hear and why it may be different than what they hear. So, I sent the article with a brief intro to the other person on the call and asked that they take a look. I’m hoping that because it is from a credible 3rd party, it won’t seem defensive. I explained that I had not really helped them to understand my objectives for the call or what I would consider a successful call.

All of that happened about an hour ago. So while I don’t know what the response will be, I know that I can’t forget that I must set the expectations for others who are unfamiliar with the process or deal with the consequences. Stay tuned.

Want to learn how to set expectations? Contact Larry Weil.

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5 Tips for Cold Calling Event Sponsors and Winning More Deals

5 Tips for Cold Calling Event Sponsors and Winning More Deals

This post was originally published on the Eventbrite blog. Read the original post here.

What’s your go-to method for contacting event sponsors? In a recent survey of event professionals, nearly half (42%) said their primary method for contacting sponsors was email. So if you said email, you’re in good company.

But while email is an effective tool for reaching out to prospects, you can win more sponsorship deals if you pick up the phone.

The “people don’t answer phones” myth

What’s keeping you from picking up the phone? Whatever it may be — general reluctance or fear of rejection — the end result is procrastination. People have given me every excuse in the book for why they don’t call sponsors. Here are a few:

  • It’s lunch time.
  • I will call right after I (fill in the blank)
  • People don’t answer their phones

Recognize any of these symptoms?

If you said yes, then you’re in luck. I’ve used the following guidelines to help my clients get over their reluctance and see positive results from their conversations.

1 | Know your value proposition

Most events I’ve worked with have a value proposition that articulates the benefits of attending their event. But very few have one describing the benefits of sponsoring them.

This is the first piece of the puzzle. No one wants to hear you prattle on about how great your company is, its cutting-edge technology, or how it is the industry leader.

Sponsoring your event is a business opportunity! Instead, ask yourself what you can do for them. What problems do they have that you can fix?

When you call, for example, tell them how you just helped their competitor reduce activation costs by 15%, or improve average transaction speed by 30%.

2 | Turn your cold call into a warm call

Whatever you do, don’t call a prospective sponsor and say, “I’d like to learn about your company’s needs” or anything of the kind. They are too busy.

Instead, do your due diligence and try to gather as much information as possible before contacting them. If you’re unsure how to get started, here are a few places to start:

  • LinkedIn: Look up your contact’s profile on LinkedIn to confirm whether they’re the right person.
  • Company website: Review their website to get information about their product or services and who their customers are.
  • Google News: A quick search here will let you know what the company is currently up to and shed light on any challenges they’re trying to solve.

After a little bit of research, you will be able to open the conversation: “I see your new initiative targets millennials; our event has thousands in your key markets.”

3 | Use a script

Clients frequently tell me they don’t like scripts. “I don’t sound natural,” they say. But what’s “natural” about stumbling through your talking points, trying to figure out what you’re going to say next? Because — unless you’re a natural on the phone — this is the outcome of most unscripted calls.

If you’re worried a script will make you sound like a robot, consider making a decision tree. That way you’re ready for what’s next, no matter what the other person says in response.

Give this a try and you’ll feel (and sound) more comfortable — which is much more likely to get you a positive response.

4 | Know when to move on

Some prospects are just going to be a no. Even if you think they’re wrong, don’t waste time trying to change their minds. Move on to the next call.

5 | Study and practice

Even with a script, it may take some time before you’re completely comfortable with the phone in your hand. As with anything you wish to be proficient at, it takes practice.

Call your own phone and leave a message that you would leave your prospect. How did you sound? It’s no different than checking yourself in the mirror before you head out the door. You should know how you sound. Do you sound upbeat and positive or like you are grinding it out?

When you’re ready to start calling prospects, don’t call your best prospects first. Start with the least important sponsors on your list. By the time you’ve worked your way up the list and are ready to call your “white whales,” you’ll have polished your pitch and will feel more confident.

Get more expert advice

People often say I’m a natural on the phone. That wasn’t always the case. Throughout my twenties I avoided making calls like the plague. What happened? Practice — lots and lots of practice.

Even now I still prepare for every call — doing my research, writing a script, and practicing beforehand. Now you can do the same.

For more details, please contact me.

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A Template for Groundbreaking Deals

A Template for Groundbreaking Deals

When a sponsorship deal is big enough to make the mainstream news it is truly groundbreaking. We haven’t seen this much buzz in quite a while, but while the news media, sports talk radio, and the advertising world are focused on the impact of beer on campus the sponsorship world sees a new gold rush.

First, it isn’t really a deal with the University of Texas.

It is with The University of Texas Sports Properties. The rights holder is IMG College. Why? Because this separates the University from all kinds of liability and legal entanglements. In part, it is why major sports programs contract companies like IMG College. Most folks don’t know this but the Longhorns Iconic Logo is owned by UT Sports Properties. The Alumni Association can’t use it.

Why The University of Texas?

Simply put, where Texas goes, others will follow. I know from personal experience, that if you can get a groundbreaking deal done with UT it makes every deal thereafter easier. Don’t get me wrong, I bet this wasn’t easy. Alcohol sales on campus has been decisive because it is a huge revenue opportunity. According to the Austin American Statesman beer sales last year were over $3 million. There are many stakeholders to a decision about beer sales and beer sponsorship. Beyond the administration, there are major donors, other sponsors, alumni and community leaders. Keep in mind that Texas is not a private institution. But now that all obstacles have been overcome, every other university can point to this deal and not have to take responsibility for being the first. It is a much easier sale going forward.

Why Corona?

The media has been asking why a Mexican beer and not an American beer? I see two reasons. First, they were willing to ride out the approval process. It is the first beer partnership with a college and first college deal with an import. While it is as yet unclear if they get any pouring rights, they do get huge activation at the “Corona Beach House” near the stadium (per press release).

Why not Bud or Miller?

They already have huge investments in professional sports and pouring rights. Why open up another bottomless money pit? They now need to determine if they are going to need to defend turf and what it may cost.

So if you are looking to lead a sponsorship category breakthrough follow the template:

  1. Go after the biggest player in the category.
  2. Find a partner with a big brand that has everything to gain and little downside.
  3. Be patient. It’s going to take some time.
  4. Once you close the deal, go get everyone else as fast as you can.

For more details, please contact me.

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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.

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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.