One of the biggest and most common mistakes in seeking sponsorship is to think only of your own needs and wants. But you should be focusing on the commercial benefit you can offer sponsors and their target market. Overall, sponsorship seekers should tailor each offer to fit potential sponsors rather than focus on what sponsors can provide.
Sponsorship is about the commercial benefit you can offer. There is no magic bullet that will motivate a sponsor to throw money at your deserving cause – unless you have thought out a win-win proposition. You need to package a combination of benefits that will provide them with value for money.focus on what to do for sponsors
Sponsors aren’t holding their breath waiting for your approach. They are besieged by heaps of applicants seeking money. Therefore, the power in the relationship lies heavily in their hands, and you need to tailor the content of your proposal to suit the sponsor’s unique requirements.
You need to be able to offer a sponsor an avenue for them to reach out to their target market. In this sense you are a ‘middleman’ or conduit – a way for the sponsor to strengthen their connection to their target market.
If all you are doing is focusing on your own needs, you are effectively asking for a donation – because you are not offering the sponsor their money’s worth. Donations and philanthropy are totally different from sponsorship.
As a corporate affairs manager, I received dozens of sponsorship applications every month and found that 90% of them were merely photocopied, mass-produced documents that made no effort to relate to my organization’s marketing and communication needs. Some of these frustrating examples:
To win ahead of other applicants you need to do your homework and look to offer something a bit different. Don’t plaster the postal system with mass-produced applications. You may think that sending out many proposals and following up with phone calls may impress your boss. But don’t confuse activity with effectiveness. Many people also use this busy technique with media releases. But in both cases, busy outputs are counter-productive. In fact, such outputs are merely junk mail.
If you take a professional approach you will not send out many proposal documents at all because you will have filtered out the irrelevant companies and just focused hard on those who fit well with what you can offer. Above all focus on what to do for potential sponsors. My eBook, How to successfully seek corporate sponsorship, gives more guidance.
A tailored sponsorship proposal doesn’t mean sending a mail-merged covering letter and some primitive mail merging within the document. The proposal needs to genuinely address that sponsor’s specific needs.
The consensus among experts is that 75% of sponsorship proposal time should be spent on research. Research each potential sponsor. Look for the fit with what you can offer to suit their unique needs. Their website or a Google search will reveal most of their priorities. Try to understand them and how you can help them reach and strengthen their relationships with their target audience. Check their sponsorship record to get a better idea of their strategy.
Hold a creative or brainstorm meeting to identify the benefits you can uniquely offer each sponsor. Look closely at what you have access to in terms of target audience and access to it. Time and effort invested in creativity can win you the money. It doesn’t have to be stupendous creativity, just find smart angles to show how the sponsor can connect better with their target audience through you. You are effectively the broker.
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
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