If you represent a company that invests in sponsorship and has a clear strategy—in other words you appreciate the value of sponsorship and how to best leverage it to achieve your business goals—this article is not for you.
This article is for companies that dabble with sponsorship. And want to get better.
A little secret.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Sponsorship sellers are looking out for you.
They know that there is an inverse proportion of time and effort required depending on the investment their sponsors make.
The less a company invests, the more time, effort, and sometimes hassle will be required to provide service to the company. However, the more a company invests, the easier they are to work with.
Therefore, organizations that sell sponsorship profitably have a policy known as The Riff Raff Rule, a minimum sponsorship fee to keep out the “riff raff.”
This policy has nothing to do with upselling, overselling, overcharging, and causing you to buy more than you should. It has to do with focusing on the best partners for an organization’s opportunity.
So what is going on here? Why are companies that invest more not more demanding? And why is it the other way around?
I believe it comes down to one word: fear.
Companies with less experience with sponsorship trust themselves and their partners less, so they fuss and demand to make sure they get their money’s worth. However, you can see that this dynamic is distressing and ruinous of a trusting relationship, not engendering it.
How not to be riff raff.
So until you gain more experience with sponsorship, how can you increase your own trust?
1. Learn what sponsorship is all about. It’s an extremely powerful marketing medium. I like to call it the Ultimate Social Medium. No other marketing vehicle provides you with the face-to-face and heart-to-heart interaction that sponsorship offers.
A good place to start your education s online on blogs like this one: SponsorshipStrategist.com.
Finally, don’t be shy about bringing in an expert who can help prevent you from wasting time, effort, and money and structure deals to get results. Among other things, I’ve helped companies sort out solid value from filler, negotiate better fees, and design activities and options more aligned with their business models and goals.
2. Build trust with your partner. If you’re working with a good partner, share with him/her what you’re trying to accomplish and what you need to make this a success. If you’re working with a great partner, they will educate you, provide ideas and suggestions, help manage your expectations, and even tell you if they are unable to meet your objectives. Sponsorship is collaborative.
3. Be strategic and leverage. Be prepared to invest beyond the sponsorship fees to maximize this investment and leverage it fully across your organization. It’s better to invest in fewer opportunities that enable you to significantly advance your goals than to spread yourself too thin or waste money with bad events, partners, or opportunities.
4. Be organized. Imagine all the steps of your sponsorship operation, before, during, and after the event. What do you need? What is your responsibility? What is your production schedule?
What are your back-up plans? Review these schedules and plans with your partner and ask them for assistance in identifying what’s missing and how you might better leverage the investment.
5. Evaluate. Like with anything, you will get better with more experience. Take good notes.
Debrief with your team and your partner so you identify not only what would work better next year but also what went well. Build on strengths.
Being vulnerable and asking questions will yield a better response and more support than being petulant and demanding.
When I sold sponsorship for major multi-stage music festivals, the few difficult sponsors with whom I worked had limited terms with me. I simply did not invite them back.
Sponsorship is a big investment and if executed well provides lots of interesting tentacles of opportunity. The multi-faceted nature of sponsorship is what many of us love the most, but admittedly, if can be overwhelming. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
Here’s a great way to tell if having a conversation with a sponsorship expert would be beneficial:
- You’re winging it when you negotiate sponsorship deals.
- You’re not really sure what to ask for.
- You’re unclear about what outcomes you want to achieve.
- You’re not sure if sponsorship is the right marketing medium for you.
- You don’t know how to tell a good partner from a bad partner.
- You have no idea if you’re spending too much or too little.
- You have a sick feeling in your gut or you just feel anxious or nervous when you have to execute sponsorship.
How many of these conditions apply to you? Is it time for assistance?
If I can be a resource for you, let’s have a conversation.