You know those situations when you assume you’re being so clear that how could anyone misunderstand what you’ve said or written?
Just last week, for instance, I ordered a pizza 🍕with this instruction:
“No cheese, extra sauce please. Don’t forget the pesto.”
My pizza joint almost always gets the “no cheese” part correct (I know, it’s heresy to me, too!), but on a few occasions, they’ve omitted the amazing spicy pesto that also comes on this pie.
I thought this friendly, polite little nudge would be just the thing to get my order right.
Alas, when I arrived to pick up my pizza, the staff member asked about the pesto.
Turns out he and the team in the kitchen were confused.
Was I saying: “Don’t forget that pesto also has cheese in it so don’t put it on my pizza”?
Or was I simply reminding them to include the pesto?
They hedged their bets and put the pesto on the side. And I learned that one small sentence, that to me was completely clear, could cause a minor hiccup in the kitchen.
I’m telling you this because I’ll bet your organization has a practice or two that is thwarting your ability to secure sponsorship revenue, which will make or break your ability to have an event asset.
For example, if you’re negotiating by email, are you sure your words are clearer than, well, pesto?
3 Causes of Sponsorship Revenue Stagnation
Here are a few areas—including unclear messages—that could diminish your sponsorship returns.
A key indicator of future sponsorship revenue is the number of calls and conversations your staff member is making each day, each week, each month.
Notice I did not say emails.
Emails—and texts and LinkedIn messages—can all be included in the process, but calls are the most important indicator.
It can take eight to fifteen attempts to reach a prospect, which is why mixing it up with emails and other communications avenues can help. But conversations are key.
Also, it’s unlikely that you’ll land every sponsor prospect with whom you talk. On average, you’ll need at least three times the number of appropriate prospects to yield the revenue you need.
>> How many calls is your organization making to initiate relationships, nurture relationships, follow-up on conversations? Do you have a goal?
2. Outdated Value
Part of your organization’s job each year should be to grow your event and make it more valuable. This could mean having more people. It also could mean having more of the right people.
For example, one of my clients focused on having more county-wide decision makers—mayors, parks and recreation commissioners, facilities directors—at its event so they could have a greater impact by influencing professionals who could make change.
By doing so, they’d open up their event to a new set of sponsorship opportunities.
>> How are you growing and updating your value?
Your team also needs to have an actual business development process and know where you are with each prospective sponsor.
Here are a few indicators of a process that's not working well for an organization:
The staff start contacting new and prior year sponsors when they get around to it, which is often only weeks or months before the event. Too late.
Sponsor budgets and marketing tactics already may be planned.
Worse, any sponsorship sold at the last minute is already missing the boat on value because the sponsor cannot take full advantage of everything you have to offer.
• Mailing something generic.
Organizations tell me all the time that they fear their sponsorships are “transactional” and don’t know how to resolve this issue.
Mailing out generic sponsorship packages with names like Gold, Silver, Bronze is one culprit. You’re likely leaving money on the table and actually causing a transaction. Generic mailings are simply not enabling you to further relationships.
• Negotiating via email.
Another way your organization may be casting its partnerships to the realm of transaction is using the wrong medium for the job. For example, negotiating on email, a big pet peeve of mine.
Words are only one way we communicate. Tone of voice and body language are two others. If you’re using email for important discussions, you’re missing a lot of information.
Compounding the problem is misunderstanding. How many times a day or week do you re-explain something or feel confused by an email you receive?
Do you really want misunderstandings to spike when you’re trying to land a great partner?
Remember my pizza 🍕story? If such a seemingly straightforward order can cause confusion, imagine how complicated complex sponsorship deals can get!
>> Does your organization have a process and know where you are in any prospect’s journey?
Expanding sponsorship revenue is just one way you can turn your events into assets. I’ll have many more ideas for you this Thursday, October 21, 2021, 12:30-1:45 p.m. EST at the Collaborative Conference. You can register for the session or the day. Find out more and register here. My session, called Events as Assets: Turn Your Events into Organizational Treasures with the Right Strategy, is geared for nonprofit CEOs, executive directors, board members, and development team members who are serious about seeing an ROI from their events. Learn more and register here.