How To Build a Successful Sponsorship Program

By February 11, 2014 Blog No Comments

In my previous webinar on ‘Permitting & Financing Your Event’, I discussed how to build a 12-month Cash Flow Summary for your event. Within that discussion, I demonstrated the importance of sponsorship revenue on your bottom line. If we assume that registration fees essentially cover the expenses to pull off the event, then you can quickly see how sponsorship revenue has everything to do with the profitability of your event. In short, if you want your event to be profitable (or you want something left over to go towards your charitable cause) you can’t ignore sponsorship.

I have a love/hate relationship with selling sponsorship. My track record proves that I’m actually quite good at it, although I don’t know anyone (ok, I know a few) that actually like doing it and I’m no exception. Selling sponsorship is like selling anything and requires a sales process like anything else. Give a good sales person the right tools and they can sell anything from underwear to software, and yes, even sponsorship. But where do you even begin?! Here are three steps to get you started:

Step 1: Take Inventory

Your first step is to create a ‘Sponsorship Benefits Matrix’. Before you can start selling, you need to know what you are selling and how much you have to sell at each sponsorship level. This can be done on a spreadsheet with ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Bronze’ along the top columns and then all the possible sponsor benefits listed down the rows with check-marks determining which sponsors get what benefits. Once this exercise is complete you can start determining a value for each package based on benefits received and number of participants (or impressions) for your event. Keep in mind, potential sponsors will want a higher ROI than they could receive by buying traditional media.

Step 2: Build Your Sales Materials

Now that you know what each sponsor gets, it’s time to create your sales materials. First thing you’ll want to do is build your ‘Event Overview’ deck. This is the who, what, when, and where of your event. This will not only serve to get you that first meeting with a potential sponsor, but you’ll also likely use it to “sell” your event vision to the City, Contractors, Volunteers, and anyone you need to tell more about your event. You’ll also want to give a summary of all possible benefits available to a sponsor as you don’t yet know their marketing and business objectives nor their budget. Besides the ‘Event Overview’ deck, you’ll next want to create your ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, and ‘Bronze’ Sponsorship Opportunity decks. Within these decks, you’ll drop in the various benefits from your Sponsorship Matrix only with more detail. After that first meeting with a potential sponsor, this is the deck you’ll customize and will serve as your “proposal”.

Step 3: Approach Media Partners

Before you start stuffing your sales pipeline with potential sponsors, it’s critical you build media value into your sponsorship program so your first stop should be pitching media partners (i.e. TV, radio, print, web, etc). Give them the same sponsorship benefits you would give a paying sponsor – value for value – in exchange for free media. So, let’s say one of your packages is valued at $5,000 and your local newspaper is willing to give you $5,000 worth of print ads then that’s a good deal. Now, you can go back to your Sponsorship Benefits Matrix and your sales materials and build that media value into your sponsorship program. Aside from their affiliation with a community-based event and exposure you will be giving them, your media partners might also want the opportunity to sell select benefits to your event as ‘Value Add’ to their advertisers. If one of their advertisers can also get the opportunity for onsite exposure at your event, then it’s a win-win-win and you might even secure additional sponsors you wouldn’t otherwise.

Now you’re ready to approach potential sponsors. Like all sales, it’s a numbers game. The more companies in your pipeline, the more deals you’re going to close. Be diligent about your sales process and how many companies you contact and follow-up with on a daily basis. Remember, sponsorship is just another medium for a company to advertise their product or service. Don’t lose site of what the sponsor is thinking. How will sponsoring your event help them meet their marketing and business objectives? Good luck and don’t get discouraged. You’ll get far more no’s than yes’s.

Be sure to tune in to my next webinar on sponsorship. We’ll do a deep dive into building a successful sponsorship program that will be sure to bring great results. Until then, let us know how we can help. If you’re a RaceHQ member and would like free access to this Sponsor Benefit Inventory Matrix, email us today.

– Anton Villatoro, President & Co-Founder, RaceHQ

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