Sporting teams or community organisations that want sponsorship need to become effective at selling. They don’t have a choice. Personally, I have seen sponsorship from both sides of the table – I have worked with committees looking at sponsorship and I’ve been involved in businesses sponsoring other organisations.
This article is focussed at clubs and community groups looking at sponsorship. You need to remember that sponsorship is not a donation. Businesses that sponsor teams or community groups a return on investment.
The first thing you need is the sponsor letter. Here are my tips for the sponsor letter first (as without the right sponsor letter your prospects won’t even get to reading the proposal.
Ensure you have the right formatting – If your club or community group doesn’t have a letterhead you need to get one. You are suggesting a business proposition and a professional relationship – as such you need a professional appearance. Letterhead can be easily made in Microsoft Word – just put the logo in the top left corner and the contact details of your group in the top right corner. Remember, you are suggesting a formal business arrangement with a sponsorship proposal so you need to ensure that your proposal letter and document looks professional.
The first paragraph should explain the purpose of the letter and proposal – Before you even get to telling your prospect about you or your organisation you need to tell them about what the letter is for and why they should keep reading. Remember, you always need to be answering the question “what’s in it for me?”
Tell the prospect about yourself – Once you’ve succinctly explained the sponsorship benefits of sponsorship to your prospect it is time to introduce yourself or your organisation. Tell them about what your group does and who your audience is – who can your prospect market to?
Ask for the sponsorship deal – Okay, so you have outlined the benefit of the proposal and how it’s going to work for your prospect, now you need to ask for the money (well, not necessarily money, somethings sponsorship can be through in kind support.)
A brief outline of the sponsorship proposal – You will have a full sponsorship proposal but your sponsor letter should provide a brief outline of the levels of sponsorship and some of the inclusions. This should just be a brief paragraph as everything will be expanded upon later in the full proposal.
Now, we look at the sponsorship proposal.
The delivery of the sponsorship proposal depends really on how much money you are asking for. Personally I prefer a hard copy proposal in all circumstances but sometimes for smaller proposals a soft copy via email will be okay. Rather than how the proposal is delivered, it is more important what is in the proposal and how you pitch the offer.
Always bear in mind the ‘so what?’ question
Whilst you might be excited about your sporting club and its history, chances are your potential sponsors really don’t care. You need to constantly be referring back to the opportunity. As an example, Ice Hockey has a history of over 100 years in Australia but this is not relevant to new sponsors going forward. The large community of fans and players that can be marketed to is more relevant.
You need to clearly outline the demographics of your audience. If your target prospects for sponsorship are not interested in selling to your audience then you are wasting your time. (Well this is not entirely true, sometimes B2B focus is important and your prospective sponsors may be more interested in selling to your other sponsors than your audience.) This is not often the case though and you cannot rely solely on B2B sales opportunities to grow your business.
For example, one of the companies I am involved in is within the telecommunications industry. Everyone uses phones so we can sell to all players, their families and their fans. But, for us the B2B opportunities are often better as they have bigger accounts.
Tailor the Key Benefits to Each Sponsor Prospect
All sponsors expect the basics – signage, mentions in the program and a logo on the website – so you don’t need to spend too much time promoting these benefits to a client. This is one of those ‘so what?’ moments. How is signage going to increase business for your prospect? WHat will actually increase their chances of success? Is it facilitated B2B networking? Will they prefer corporate entertainment options for their own clients? What’s in it for them?
Some of the reasons that prospects consider sponsorship include branding, increased sales and a competitive advantage
Some of the common benefits of sponsorship include media coverage, networking opportunities, image enhancement/ branding and also corporate entertainment options.
As part of the sponsorship proposal you should also explain briefly how you will help a prospect measure their sponsorship results.
There are some other important considerations you need to take note of when completing a sponsorship proposal.
Is your offer realistic – You should check as to what other community groups are offering and receiving with their sponsorship proposals. DOn’t sell yourself short but make sure you are realistic. You need to be realistic or you will end up being ignored.
Give your prospects enough time to consider your sponsorship proposal – Generally people will not make immediate decisions regarding a sponsorship proposals. Give prospects enough time to assess your proposal and discuss with other decision makers in their business.
Ensure you have the resources to support a sponsor – Once you have a sponsor you need to ensure that you keep sponsors happy and fulfill the arrangements that are agreed to within the proposal.