- “Sales Ready”: Congratulations. You’re ready to sell. You have the best potential to attract new sponsor partners.
- “Ready To Sell, But Improvement Needed”: Compared to industry best practices, you’re doing OK. However, your current marketing model and sponsorship sales approach may not place you in the best position for success. While it is unlikely to disqualify you from consideration for sponsorship opportunities, there’s room for improvement in your program.
- “Substantial Work Needed To Improve”: Heads up. Your sales and marketing approach to sponsorship could be a problem. You may not receive responses to your proposals, but you continue press on. When stacked head-to-head with properties who are more prepared, you probably will not win new partners. The good news is there’s a lot you can do to level-up. Read on.
- “Not Sales Ready” : We recommend you pause your sales program and address key issues that may hinder success. If you fail to put your best foot forward, you may be wasting opportunities with prospects. Often, properties in the “Not Sales Ready” category don’t realize they are putting themselves at a selling disadvantage . . . but they are. Don’t worry, though. Knowledge is power. Read our comments below and improve your sponsorship readiness.
Wondering How to Start?
CHARGE helps properties put their best sponsorship foot forward. We’ll show you how we help brands evaluate properties, and then walk you through strategies to win.
Industry Insights and Tips to Improve Your Overall Score
The Sales Prospecting Process
The sponsorship sales process requires pre-planning. Before the process begins, a property should know the exact type of sponsor which best aligns with the property’s audience. The sponsor and property should “fit” one another. A prospective sponsor can sense whether the property has done its homework about the sponsor’s business and customers in the first interaction. Preparation ensures future success.
It is also important for the property to plan its portfolio of sponsorship offerings at the outset. Sponsors want to be a part of organized marketing platforms and not a hodge-podge of sponsors and assets. Creating a category and asset plan prior to the sales process is key.
Your Sponsorship Proposals
Generally, sponsors do not buy generic offerings “off-the-shelf.” As sponsors have unique problems and challenges, they require unique custom-tailored solutions. If a property is able to confirm the nature of the sponsor’s challenge prior to the first proposal document, the chances of closing a deal increase.
One-size-fit-all pricing rarely succeeds. In fact, many times, it demonstrates to the prospect that the property values cash over partnerships and helping sponsors solve their business problems is not a priority. Price the proposal relative to its value to the sponsor.
Similarly, it is important to include key data that sponsors need to get past an initial introduction. In particular, properties must include as much data as possible in their proposals regarding their audience.
Sponsorship Assets and Inventory
Sponsors have unique needs and challenges. To create a powerful relationship, properties must ensure that prospects are offered the assets needed to address the sponsor’s challenges. These assets must be right-priced both in terms of value to the sponsor and the prevailing rate in the sponsorship market. A third-party opinion on value will trump your own opinion every time.
Additionally, since there are many properties vying for the same sponsors, assets should be unique and exclusive (if possible) to a property. Sometimes a sign is a sign is a sign. But, a unique or exclusive experience is special and valuable. Finally, in the digital age, many sponsors want access to exclusive digital assets like email marketing lists.
Sponsorship Service and Fulfillment
If you have a dedicated sponsorship service staff, great. However, at the very least, you must have staff who will focus on the needs of your sponsors. Poor service is often the leading cause of sponsor attrition, as the excitement experienced at the start of the sponsorship is unfulfilled.
Also, each property should have a service process that is tailored to the needs of their sponsors. An experienced property knows what it takes to deliver sponsor success, including regular planning meetings as well as proactive reporting of results. Part of that experience includes having the proper metrics on-hand when needed including social media, web, earned media and other ways to measure sponsorship success.
The three keys to sponsorship success are audience, audience and audience. In our experience, many properties fail to live up to their sponsorship sales potential because they do an underwhelming job of understanding and describing their audience. Most sponsorships live or die by determining the alignment between the sponsor’s audience and the property’s. This is known as the “shared target audience”.
Most of your proposals should be devoted to describing the shared target audience in detail: their demographics, psychographics, and buying preferences. It is especially impactful if the property can match its audience’s preferences to the prospective sponsor using any audience data available. There is no excuse to not know your audience. Free resources exist to learn more about your audience, including Survey Monkey, Twitter Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights.
We mentioned how vital it was to understand and describe your audience. Well, having a strong marketing capability is almost as critical. A sponsor will evaluate a property by its ability to help carry the sponsor’s message. Great marketing departments make for successful sponsorships.
A strategic approach, integrating social media, PR, advertising, and other marketing platforms, assures potential partners that a property is a good sponsorship bet. If a property can show its seriousness about marketing in terms of effort and investment, that property is more sponsorship-ready than a property that does not.
Ten years ago, social media was a value-add in the sponsorship world. Today, it is many times a centerpiece. In a recent survey, sponsors indicated that social media is one of the most important weapons in their marketing arsenal. That’s why they look for sponsor partners who can get the job done on Twitter, Instagram or other relevant platforms.
A social media strategy that gets inconsistent attention or does not implement messages with cutting-edge tools will simply not impress a prospective sponsorship partner. It a sponsor doesn’t need your social media audience to carry its message, why do they need you at all? (Answer: they don’t).
Corporate Social Responsibility
If you sold sponsorship five years ago, corporate social responsibility (CSR) may not have mattered to the sale. However, today, sponsors consider their commitment to society to be an integral part of their business . . . and marketing strategies. To the extent a property can demonstrate that commitment as well, they prove their worthiness as a real partner.
Often, the CSR commitment extends not only to how the property runs its business, but whether the property has a commitment to extend this commitment into the operation of its events (i.e., event social responsibility (ESR)).