Starting a conversation with a sponsor

Every relationship starts with a conversation. How do you start your conversation with a sponsor and how you build the relationship will affect your sponsorship outcomes.   

Let’s have a look at the following two scenarios:

Scenario #1:

Bob, an event organiser, needs $100,000 to be able to run his event. “Where will I get this money from? Sponsors, of course! I don’t really like asking for money but hey, man’s gotta do what man’s gotta do.”

Bob creates a beautifully looking sponsorship proposal with different sponsorship packages: a gold sponsorship opportunity at $25,000, three silver sponsorship opportunities at $15,000 each, and six bronze options at $5,000 each. The bronze sponsors will get a right to have their logos printed in an event brochure, the silver sponsors will also get a right to display their banners at the event, while the gold sponsor will have an option to address the audience at the event as well. Bob also includes all possible information about his event in this proposal, all the stats from the previous years, and all the reasons why his event is important for the community. Bob couldn’t be more pleased with his work!

Then, Bob starts sending emails to all potential sponsors. One goes to a bank, they will surely sponsor his event, they sponsor everything! Bob can only find a general ‘info’ email, but that should do, right? Bob also sends an email to his friend Kate who works for a large car dealership business. They, Bob and Kate, went to school together, so surely she will support his event! Bob’s proposal is also sent to his mum who will share it with her friends at her book club who will then share it with their sons and daughters working for different companies. He also sends an email to his uncle who has his own business, and to his neighbour who once mentioned that he knows some CEO. You’ve got the picture.

After all the emails are sent, Bob waits. And waits.

I think you will agree with me that despite being a common practice, this is not the best practice of starting the conversation with a sponsor.

Starting a conversation with a sponsor

Let’s have a look at the other scenario:

Scenario #2:

Rob, an event organiser, needs $100,000 to run his event. He knows he can get the sum from different sponsors.

Rob sits down and creates a list of all the assets (valuable rights) of his event. He starts with the most obvious ones, such as a logo in the printed material and on the website, logo displays at the event, and sponsor’s address of the audience. He digs deeper and offers an exclusive area for a sponsor to host their VIPs, an access to the backstage, and a day spent with the main performer. Rob evaluates each of these assets. He then creates different packages by putting different assets together and establishes a true value of each of these packages. These packages are just his ideas, and he is willing to amend them or add something to them if an individual sponsor will wish so.

Rob creates a powerful proposal, in which he includes important details of his event. Not too much though, him and his event is not important here, the sponsors are. That is why he, in the next step, makes a thorough research of all potential sponsors. He spends quite a bit of time studying each company or a brand. What are they trying to achieve? Who is their target market? What other events have they sponsored so far and why? The more information he will have about the company and the brand, the better he can prepare for the pitch. Before he approaches his potential sponsors, he tweaks the proposal so it suits to each one of them. How will an individual brand benefit from sponsoring his event is the questions he aims to answer.

Then, Rob identifies key people in each of his chosen companies. He calls them and sends them an email. He follows up. He starts each conversation with with a sponsor with: “This is what you try to achieve and this is what I try to achieve. Why don’t we work together and help each other?” as Jackie Fast, an author of Pinpoint, suggests.

Now, which of the two scenarios do you think works better?

Conversation with a sponsor is a key to successful sponsorship

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