When I first started our publication, I thought that securing sponsorship was actually going to be the easy part. Hell, I was a kick arse sales guy – who on earth was going to say no to me?
Turns out, pretty much everyone.
Securing sponsorship and advertising dollars for a business is completely different to your run-of-the-mill sales processes it turns out; and so over the last couple of years, I have had to put myself through a crash course in learning how to bring in the bucks from the big guys – as a little guy, when compared to my competitors.
I get asked a lot now for tips and tricks when it comes to securing dollars for a new publication or event, and after having worked closely with our media agency to understand the mystifying web that is corporate sponsorships, I have discovered the number one mistake people make.
Promising Media Coverage
But it’s invaluable though, right? To be honest I thought so too.
But as a big bank asked me once – “Do you really think we have trouble getting our brand into the media?”
Think about it. These companies you are chasing have the coin and resources to do exactly what they need to grow their business, that is why you are pitching to them. In order to get their attention you need to start breaking things down. Micro-style. For example, advertising on shoestring.com.au would get people in front of an audience of 35, 000 people that is 90% made up of 18 – 34 year olds. Specific is good, specific allows corporate sponsors to think of products that match that database.
But the media angle should be an add on only – to really secure the dollars you need to think about the three D’s – Demographic, Dollars and Deliverables.
Be super succinct about your audience and your business platform. If you are not, it confuses the people you are pitching to.
Once you are clear on this internally, then you will be able to target exactly which corporates you should be going after for the dollars. For example, you wouldn’t pitch to a beauty brand if your event or company is targeting men between the ages of 30 and 40.
Do some thorough research on your audience, especially on their spending power, purchasing habits, average income, education levels and pastimes. If you look at Newscorp’s corporate website this is something they have spent a lot of time doing for all their media brands and expo brands that rely on sponsorship.
Without this information you will never be able to get anyone across the line. And if you think you can just make the information up without taking surveys and properly measuring YOUR audience, the sponsor will realise this very quickly when it comes to their return on investment. You see they already know based on this (when accurate) information what their return should statistically be.
You would think that the number one mistake people make in this department is asking for too much money. It’s actually the opposite, people ask for small amounts of money which are not worth a corporate sponsors time or resources. If you are not asking for at least $10,000 plus, and don’t have a long term robust plan in place for that money, you are not ready to be taking sponsorship dollars.
Remember the person you are dealing with is a well paid person in a corporation that has just had a similar meeting with someone before you came in and will have a another identical meeting once you leave. Do their job for them, tell them the amount you are seeking and the campaign around that dollar value.
The trouble with sponsorship is that most of the time people are seeking it prior to their event, or the reason they are seeking it for. So accurate forecasting is imperative when it comes to the promises you make to clients on what exactly you will be able to deliver to them.
In the early stages sponsors will test you, so make sure you return emails, phone calls and turn up to appointments on time – if you can’t get these things correct, why would you deliver what you say you will in dollar value back to them?
Your deliverables need to be laid out in a comprehensive sponsorship proposal. It should be a brief but detailed document that talks through the story of why you need sponsorship dollars, why (x) company is a good match and how much (x) company should expect to get in return and in what format that will be in. Deliverables are not always just about dollars, it may also be names and contact details for marketing activities or having a certain number of eyeballs see a relevant product or service.
Find out in your initial meeting what their companies needs are – securing sponsorship is as much about listening to what you can do for them as it is pitching to them why you are the person who can do that for them.
And last but not least, remember to follow up – majority of sponsorship opportunities are lost because people presume it’s a no, based purely on the fact they never got back to you. Nobody ever actively seeks to give away money – you’ve got to chase that stuff down!