Research potential sponsors
Create a wish list of who you might want to sponsor your club/event. Keeping in mind the relevance, compatibility with your association.
Sponsorships are often easier to gain with companies that have had a change in leadership/ownership, rebranded, and launched a new product or have another significant shift in brand they might want to showcase.
-Research the potential sponsor: would they complement your club, are they a good brand fit/relevant to your Club/event. Sponsorship works both ways – what would you bring to their business: skills, more loyal customers, social media following, brand awareness, increased sales?
Once the potential sponsor(s) is identified make sure you know their business before making initial contact. Gather information via website, social media, LinkedIn Media release etc. Likewise it is just as important to know your brand.
Contact can be made in a number of ways however it is best to avoid cold calls (calling in without an introduction/appointment) ie calling into a café during a busy lunchtime service. This gets people off guard and more often than not in the wrong frame of mind.
Use your network where possible. Take suggestions and advice from club members, past/present. Word of mouth referral is the holy grail of sponsorship. Connections that may have already been made or identified by a mutual relationship.
Organise a meeting ideally by phone/email (follow up with email invitation). It is a positive sign when a potential sponsor agrees to meet with you.
Ensure it is with the decision maker. Don’t waste time with people that don’t have the authority to approve your proposal.
Be methodical in your approach and keep it your message clear and precise.
-Start with your story- Introduce yourself and your position in the organisation. No need to take unnecessary number of people to the initial meeting. Ensure you develop a mutual trust, identify common ground. Use this meeting time efficiently – avoid rambling. Brief history of the club; membership, longevity, values, future goals, recent event. Knowing your brand this will ensure professionalism.
-What can you offer that will bring value to the sponsor. How will this benefit/improve their business? What will the ROI (return on investment) be to them? Sponsorship can also generate leads, develop business relationships, improve public perception, and gain a wider/diverse audience. Spell these benefits out to the potential sponsor which could be as simple as free tickets to events or their branding on a Facebook page
Keep your message clear – what form of sponsorship would you be after? Discounted goods, monetary donation (one off/annually/ongoing). Have you worked with a corporate sponsor before-bring along any marketing examples that might showcase these. This could be your opportunity to secure a sponsor long-term so ensure you are showcasing your club to its full potential.
Avoid hard sell – don’t cut yourself short.
At the conclusion of your meeting you will have a clearer understanding of where you might sit with the potential sponsor. Very seldom will they agree on the spot – if so well done! If they organise to another meeting don’t be disheartened by this – it still shows they are interested and want to know more.
When the answer is “no” – learn by these mistakes. What was it that they said no to? Demand too high, not the right time for them financially, not interested, not the right demographic for their business? It can be nerve-racking so valuable to learn from any mistakes you might have made – too casual/formal in your approach?
Whatever the outcome of the meeting ensure to follow up with a courtesy email to thank them for their time. Reiterating the key benefits of your proposal to those who responded positively. Offer to clarify any further information if needed– even in the case of those that may have said no. There could have been a misunderstanding in the meeting.
Make sure you deliver on your promises. Write a contractual agreement where applicable to ensure both parties adhere to their side of the agreement. Invite them along to your events where possible to see you in action.