Best Practice Sponsorship – How to be Extraordinary
May 18, 2011
The lovely folks over at SponsorPark (Facebook: SponsorPark Group)are our guests this week, with a special post courtesy their very own Emily Taylor. Check out what she has to say about creating effective, extraordinary sponsor relationships.
Best Practice Sponsorship – How to be Extraordinary
Nobody wakes up and says, “Gosh, how can I be ordinary today?” The truth is that most of us are invigorated by the possibility of being extraordinary, memorable, and impactful both personally and professionally. Specifically regarding sponsorships, sales have been a really tough, ultra-competitive last few years, and we don’t land partnerships with sheer luck – it takes talent, and the application of well-timed, extraordinary best practices implemented consistently and intentionally. So, that being the case, let’s go over some best practices that will make you stand out as an extraordinarily talented sponsorship professional:
1. Ensure you are pursuing mutually beneficial relationships.
The best way you can ensure that you’re being taken seriously by a sponsor is to demonstrate that you know their business and have a reason to believe you’re a good match for their brand. This might mean that you have to take off the rose-colored glasses and realize that you are a great fit for someone, but not everyone. Since you can’t be everything to everyone, there’s a target group of sponsors you need to pursue knowing what you have to offer is most valuable to them. We always ask our new sponsorship opportunity representatives on SponsorPark what sponsors they have an interest in and why, and you can always tell who has the sponsor in mind, and who is more concerned with their own needs being met. Always remember – sponsorship is not a donation or charitable contribution; it’s a marketing platform for sponsors to reach their target audience through leveraging a partnership with you. Answer the question for how you meet this need for them, and you’ll have their attention – and their respect.
2. Connect purposefully
Let’s face it; there’s no easy wave of a wand that will guarantee you an audience with the most appropriate decision maker. But you can be purposeful in your efforts and here are a few suggestions: Ask for referrals from current connections (my favorite!); pick up the phone, nothing will take the place of a prepared for and well-timed phone call – not as easy, but definitely useful. Network like a champ; these days it’s crazy not to use social media as it has definitely made people more connected – it can open some doors when used appropriately. Attending industry-specific events puts you in the right place at the right time with the right people. Think outside the box. What would get your attention if someone were trying to gain an audience with you? Dare to be different – sponsors are inundated with stacks of the same old thing. These are just a few ideas, but remember, it usually takes time. I can’t say I often connect with the right person on the first attempt – unless it is handed to me. Have patience and be persistent.
3. Cast a vision based on credible research
Charisma and credibility are the dynamic duo when it comes to sales; though they rarely come out of spontaneous conversation- it takes preparation and measurable support. When you make it clear that you have done your research about their recent marketing campaigns, note trends or changes in trends, their previous efforts with a charity, a new product launch, etc.; this shows that you have specific and informed interest in them, as opposed to anyone who will offer you money. And when you’re telling the story of your event or program, include your sponsor in the picture of what could happen if they were involved. What about your audience’s experience would be impacted in a positive and memorable way because they were present? The ability for them to impact an experience valued by their target audience is tremendously valuable to their brand. With enough qualitative and quantitative support paired up with a verbally competent, charismatic voice, you’ve likely won yourself a distinguished place in their evaluation of your value.
4. Honor their time and invite a dialogue
Honoring a sponsor’s time commitments is both respectful and attractive. And remember, they didn’t agree to offer their valuable time with you to learn all about you necessarily; they’re there to learn about why a partnership is a good idea for their brand. That means you need to focus the conversation on their brand vs. your opportunity. Even if they ask about who you are and what you’re doing, make sure to be aware of how much time you spend talking about yourself knowing that you will put out any spark of interest if you produce a monologue about who you are, why you’re amazing, and why they should partner with you (for your benefit). Your ultimate goal is to engage them in a dialogue that intertwines your efforts. At the end of the conversation you want them to see how valuable they are WITH you. Separate yourself from 99% of other sponsorship requestors and engage them in their goals and objectives.
5. Get creative – avoid outdated activation ideas.
Dinner and a movie… yawn. Logo coverage on a banner… double yawn. When you’re trying to make a real impression, innovation is the key. Consumers bore easily in our fast-paced culture, and brand clutter or the “same old thing” just won’t make an impression anymore. You can start off by getting innovative with your assets and ideas while you’re pitching them, but ultimately you want to invite them into the conversation so that their ultimate interests are met and the creativity potential explodes. If they’re excited about the new and creative way they’re impacting through innovative activation efforts, they become more reliable and loyal.
6. Prepare to offer helpful ROI
Measuring your efforts for dynamite ROI is something I’ll always advocate as a best practice, but keep in mind not all numbers are helpful. You want to make sure you’re reporting back information your sponsor can use. It proves the value of the investment. Do this by asking your sponsor what they want. Do they want more brand recognition? Do they want to see sales of a particular product spike? Do they want to reach a new target audience? Do they want to see more test drives? You then take this information and create an activation strategy that gives you the ability to measure outcomes more ingeniously!
7. Do what you say you’re going to do
Have you ever heard empty promises from a partner? Or maybe started fulfilling your end of a deal when suddenly the charismatic counterpart ended up renegotiating his piece halfway through the deal? Or worse – they don’t deliver at all. If you want a bitter partner with a mouthpiece, being unfaithful to your promises is the fastest way to paint a target on your back. If you follow through faithfully and do everything in your power to put action steps in place to honor your promises, your sponsors will be not only singing your praise, but count major points in the positive towards considering a contract with you for following years – being reliable is invaluable. But don’t stop there; go above and beyond when you get the chance. My husband once told me we should take a quick vacation with the 15 days I had between jobs. I thought he would take me to Des Moines to see his family, or maybe Kansas City for a weekend getaway – he surprised me with tickets to Cabo. The reaction was undeniably favorable; he had big points in my book for a very long time. When you’re able to find ways to add value to a sponsor’s partnership without requiring more of them is a fast way to earn points and distinguish yourself as a partner.
Implementing these best practices is a great way you can rest assured you put your best foot forward as an extraordinary sponsorship professional!
You can read more of SponsorPark’s excellent sponsorship tips and insight at the SponsorPark Blog. Check it out and let us know what you think!