By Evan Colborne | December 9, 2016
More so than any other question we’re asked, the one that is most common is “How to ask for sponsorship”. Well, usually the question is phrased “how do I get sponsored”, but we prefer the more polite version of asking :). But it’s not hard to see why there is so much interest in finding sponsors. Since 2006, the sponsorship industry in Canada has grown to over $2.62 Billion per year! With that growth has come more sophistication in the decision making process. So, as someone seeking to obtain sponsorship, how should you ask for sponsorship?
The first step towards generating sponsorship revenue is to determine what inventory you have available to sell to a sponsor. Do your facilities have places for signage? Do you have a video board or other digital screens? Can you leverage your digital media? Try to identify all the areas where sponsors can be promoted and ask yourself “How can we use these assets to bring the sponsor’s brand to life”?
The next step is to assign some base values to each of these items. Knowing how to set the right value for your sponsorship inventory can be tough to do if there isn’t a history of selling these items. Try benchmarking your sponsorship prices against those of another comparable property; perhaps another local sports team. (Our Guide to Sponsorship Valuation may offer more clarity).
Now that you have defined what you are selling, you can take it to market and start setting some meetings with potential sponsors. Try not to sell on the phone or by email or a letter. It is always better to meet face to face. Ideally you want to ask if you can visit their business because you want to learn more about what they do before you try and sell them on sponsorship.
Keep in mind that the first meeting should be all about them. You want to learn all about their business, their objectives, and their challenges. You’re trying to gather intel that can help you develop a sponsorship package that meets their unique needs.
One key piece of information that you’re hoping to get in this meeting is a ballpark budget. Many times, sponsors won’t know what their budget is. So an important question to ask during these initial meetings is “What is the maximum budget you could allocate to a program like this”? Your hope is to at least get a range of dollar figure that they could spend with you.
From there, take the ‘intel’ that you’ve gathered and design a proposal that includes elements from your inventory that address their specific challenges. Schedule a follow up meeting to present the proposal to them. Again, always best to do this in person if you can. It’s amazing how much you can pick up from body language in a meeting that you can’t get from a conference call or even a video chat.
Based on this meeting, you may need to make some edits and tweaks to your proposal to get it to the final product.
In the interest of keeping the post light, I’m skipping over some steps, namely the negotiation. But assume those steps went perfectly and now you have a partner signed. The most important part is to deliver on all your promises. Make sure to check in with them regularly to let them know how their activations are going, and get feedback from them. It’s always easier to renew a partner than to find a new one. Once you have one, work hard to keep them with you long term.