Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sponsorship is blooming good business

What is Sponsorship?
(This is a detailed and long post - feel free to scroll around for what interests you.)

New fruit bowl with ceramic fruit!
New fruits of success emblem
for course
Sponsorship involves a business committing money or resources to a not for profit event or programme in exchange for specific promotional benefits   (e.g.Branding profile, Corporate Social Responsibility).

At its core, sponsorship is an exchange of money or products / services in kind for services. 

In exchange for supporting the non profit project, the company gets their name and logo on such items as a banner, t-shirt, poster, exhibition tent, brochure, or other kinds of marketing and communications related to the event or program.

The business objective of sponsorship is to reach a specific target audience and to earn a community “halo” for supporting a good cause.

The bonus that sponsorship delivers can give a business a competitive edge that goes beyond product and price.

Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are striving to balance profit with purpose through sponsorship and other socially responsible marketing.

Sponsorship best works if it is win-win and work-work for both parties. Both the sponsor and the not for-profit benefit from the partnership. Success depends on them working together to ensure each other’s success.

Delegates studying the target clients current media spend.
Channels of PR promotion and press copy
 Listing of the benefits and costs
Map plots of key sponsor points
Start By Looking Within  
Your first step is to do a benefit analysis of your organisation, events and programs. 

Look for assets that would be valuable to a potential business partner.

These may include:-

A large client or membership base.

An engaged following on social-media sites.

A targeted group of supporters such as National, Regional, SMEs  and family businesses ( what the USA call 'Mom & Pop' stores)

The clients' employee base.

A visible, busy, or sought after building or location.

Sponsors that value their relationship with you.

A strong, emotional mission.

One of the most valuable assets you can have is an existing connection to a sponsor.

“ a sponsor in the  hand is worth two waiting in the bush !”

Analyse your sponsoring project with a SWOT analysis
Maybe you have a CEO that personally supports your cause, but hasn't involved her company. Or perhaps your organisation has a long-standing vendor relationship with a company that would open an opportunity to a fundraiser.

 Q: Where should you start when it comes to selling sponsorships to businesses?
 A: Set your sights first on the low-hanging fruit !

What kind of businesses should you target
 for sponsorship?
 “That’s simples,” as Aleksandr would say 
“The businesses that will say yes!” 

The Bull’s-Eye: Supporters   
The bull’s-eye is your 'sweet spot' and where you should aim to target.

The companies within the bull’s-eye are existing supporters of your organisation. 

These businesses already give you money. 


These companies are friends, supporters, and allies with whom you can kick off a partnership. Companies that are supporters are already on your side . They may well be open to experimenting and taking risks because they know and trust you. You’ll need this. First tries are rarely perfect, and these partners will have the patience and forgiveness you’ll need to safely try, and try again.

Find out what companies your organisation already know - supporters from past years. These companies are the foundation for everything that follows. Always start with the people you know and you’ll never hear “No” (well seldom !)

The Inner Circle: Qualified Prospects
The first circle outside the bull’s-eye is populated with what we call prospects. You know these people and they know you. 
But they’re different from bull’s eye supporters for one key reason: they haven’t sponsored yet. However, they are familiar with your organisation. They are good prospects.

It’s best to work from the inside out. 

Begin with companies within the bull’s-eye your supporters, execute a program or two, and then share your success and experience to the next circle of prospects that will need more convincing than your generous supporters did.

The Outer Circle: Suspects

The companies in the outer circle aren't even prospects. We call them suspects—that’s how weak their connection is to you. These businesses have no sponsorship connection or much commercial history with your organisation. They don’t know you and you don’t know them.

This is the hardest circle to work, but it also has the most potential because 75% of companies are neither supporters nor prospects.

If selling were as easy as selling to supporters and prospects , organisations wouldn't need you ! 

Work the inner circles first. You’ll gain valuable experience and references. You’ll need these when you approach suspects.

NB  One of the most powerful questions to ask of existing clients e.g.  " Tell me Iain , who else should we be speaking to?" 

NB Don't forget to hand over two business cards to these client s. The second card they can pass on to another colleague in the business club, Rotary, Lions etc

Delegates taking a break from Sponsorship workshop-
room with a national perspective
You might be thinking you can just begin your project at the outer circle and make cold calls. Not only is this not much fun, it’s not very effective either. 

It sometimes works— but it is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Life stuck at the outer ring where it’s cold and lonely, a better option is to revisit the low hanging fruit (e.g., cultivating individual major sponsors, adding influential members to your client list.) so one day you can land  a  future sponsorship bull’s-eye supporter.

Track Everything

Use a contact management software (CMS) to keep track of all your prospects and any interactions.

If you've never used a CMS before, or are reluctant to use the one you have, let’s be clear on the importance of having one. Your CMS can help you sell more sponsorships for your organisation. 

Whatever software you use, develop a system. For easy scanning and research, segment your target into two groups.  They are current sponsors ,“Qualified prospects” and unaffiliated companies as just “Suspects.”

Having a system will allow you to identify your best prospects. For a new event with sponsorships,  start with supporters and work your way outward.

Record everything. – 'a short pencil is better than a long memory !'

Any communication with or intelligence collected about a prospect should promptly recorded. Messages left  on a voice-mail? log it in.

 Should you see a recent story on-line on a sponsor’s new product line or service  Paste the link into the prospect’s note. Same principle with old school newspaper clippings.

 Little bits of info may mean nothing at the time, but a string information viewed together may reveal a good approach, or may even point you to another prospect.  pieces of sector jargon It will give useful way to relate with the client.

Let the software do the work. Leave reminders, calendar updates, to-dos and institutional memory to the software--backed up, of course!  

But the software is only as good as the person using it. Garbage in. Garbage out.

How to Get Through to Prospects

Fortunately with email and social media, you have a lot of ways to contact prospects ( and they you) about a sponsorship opportunity. But more often than not your first connection with the prospect will probably be over the phone.

Here are some thoughts on approaches by telephone

Should I leave a message?

 That depends on your own personal style and what works best for your style. 

I like leaving a message.  

I leave a short message explaining why I was calling.

 So say that you will email them with the subject heading “Blooming Sponsorship Project 2016” so they can spot on in their inbox and that it is not spam.

 Share a couple of benefits of what you are offering in the message left.

 Such a message softens up a prospect so when you do get them on the phone it’s not a cold call.

 When you do talk to them on the follow up, they may be slightly inclined to your proposal. Sometimes people will even call you back !

How should I deal with “gatekeepers”?

Make them your friends. They are valuable allies in getting you to your prospect contact.

Remember, it can be a long, hard graft to success without them. Bear in mind, ‘gatekeepers’ want something too. Sometimes a friendly voice is what’s saving them from boredom or an otherwise boring job!
 Other times it’s talking to someone who has similar challenges in their life (juggling work and kids, a long commute, etc.).

When should I stop calling?  When am I being a pest?)

If they are bona fide prospect, never.

This goes back to never giving a prospect a reason to say no. As long as you never drive the prospect to the point that they tell you to get lost, you should be able to call them occasionally to pitch them on new projects, to follow up on emails, to invite them to events, etc.

 It can take years to convert a prospect into a sponsor. But qualifying them as a real prospect and being persistent will pay off!

The phone is the most popular way to reach prospects but email is another great communication tool . Here are some suggestions for using that as well.

Keep it short. There's nothing worse than a long email. Keep it to a 150 words or less.

 Put yourself in your readers shoes. How do you feel when someone sends you an email that you have to keep scrolling through to finish. Did you want to get another email from that person?

Bullet  everything.  

Some people say with emails attach nothing.  ( Maybe  it is wiser to say avoid attachments)

Make it easier for your target reader to scan your email for key info, bullet, bold, underline the things you want your prospect to read and remember.

 Also, everything you want your prospect to see should be in the email itself.
Use email to accelerate and capture business.  Use email to get information to prospects quickly. Get rid of anything that has to be sent through the post.

  When you call your prospect about sponsorship, should they say “I never got the info.”  say  “I’m resending the info right now. ......Do you have it open so I can walk you through the sponsorship scheme?”

Choosing the Right Pitch  (Different strokes for different folks)

To successfully pitch a sponsorship opportunity, you have know with whom you are dealing. Decision makers can be divided in one of three groups: Thinkers, Feeler and Deferrers. Most people are a combination of all three, but one style usually dominates.

Different Strokes for different folks ( thinkers, feelers, postponers

a.Thinkers ( I'll think about it)

 Thinkers want to hear the rationale, the logic behind a sponsorship and why it makes sense for their business. They like facts, figures, research, statistics, data and any other analytical information to guide their decision.

If you’re selling to a Thinker on an event sponsorship: Talk about how many people attended the event, the split between men and women, age profile ....

b. Feelers

Feelers are moved more by narrative and emotional appeals and will respond better to appeals centred around your mission of your organization, how the consumer experience will be enhanced and how employees will derive more meaning and fulfilment from their jobs.
If you’re selling a Feeler on an event sponsorship: Talk about the emotional connection people have to the event and how it will tangibly impact your mission.

c. Postponers

Postponers follow the lead of others.  Show them what the companies they admire or compete with are doing and how you they can join the trend setters. Credibility and reputation are important to a lot of people. But for these prospects, it means a whole lot more.

If you’re selling to a postponer on an event sponsorship: Talk about the other companies that are sponsoring the event and the high profile leaders that will be attending. here are some closes / ways to seal the deal 

Regardless of whether you are dealing with a Thinker, Feeler or Postponer, keep the following in mind.

Your No. 1 goal is to be prospect-focused. Be prepared to adjust your message with prospects to meet their needs, interests and goals. You may have just spoken to three prospects in the morning who were happy to talk solely about event sponsorship,  make the shift when the next prospect wants to talk about your mission? 
Not all sponsors commit because of the marketing benefits. Stay focused but flexible.

Stand out from your competition ie others who fund-raise and sell sponsorship.

Many business people have pretty low expectations of public sector/ third sector types. They expect you to ask for money, and to bring little else to the table beyond your empty, cupped hands. 

Imagine if you were a business owner and that’s all you ever heard from fundraisers and people selling sponsorships!

You’re goal is to be different.

"Telling isn't selling"

Ask your prospect about his business. Instead of asking for something, offer something. Enlighten them on how supporting your cause can deliver a competitive edge and boost employee morale, among other things. Impress them by knowing something about their industry and competitors.

Don’t be like every other fundraiser out there. Step out from that old school model and you'll get the attention you want and deserve.

Don't give them an excuse to say no. 
Avoid mailing prospects reams of information. 
Keep your promises. Call people back when you’re supposed to. 
Designing sponsorship packages with little creativity and even less flexibility.

You never want a prospect to give you a flat-out “no.” Psychologically it's a big threshold for a decision maker to cross and when they do, well, they generally mean. So don’t give prospects a reason to utter that final, irrevocable  “No”.

Persuasion is best achieved incrementally. 

Things take time. 
It won’t happen with one call, or one email, or one meeting. You need to plan for sponsorship success and how each interaction will bring you a closer to your goal.

So if the objective of that first call isn't to close the sale, what is it? It's a question you should know the answer to before you pick up the phone.

A professional appearance sets the right tone for business presentations. Many companies expect third sector folk to show up in casual dress. Show them that you're more like them than the stereotypical amateur fund-raiser and you'll have a better chance of earning their trust and business.

Give them a damned good listening to !

Start by talking about your prospect, the proposal, their competitors and how you plan to help them accomplish their goals. By the time you get around to talking about yourself, you’ll have their attention and interest.

Go easy on the PowerPoint slides slides. Avoid using a  Power Point slide deck is the digital podium that everyone likes to hide behind. A simple rule: only use a slide when what you can’t say it with words. This will limit your slides to pictures, video and the occasional graph. That's it. Remember, YOU are your best visual aid.

Be yourself at your best.

If you need to present your sponsorship offer

As communicators we all do something well. Maybe you explain things well, or you’re organized. Maybe you’re inspiring, concise or a great storyteller. Build your presentation around your strengths and what you do best.

Consider the power of team speaking. Just as everyone does something well, team speaking aggregates those talents into one fabulous presentation. You might be the right person to kick-off the presentation, but maybe another member of your team is better suited to explain the specifics or to talk about your organization. 
A mix of speakers works well, shares the chore of speaking and gives listeners some much needed variety.

Follow the 50/50 rule. Speaking is different from other forms of communication. That's why your speech should be balanced between new material and (pre)review of what you've already said. (Pre)review can take many forms. "This point is important..." "The three areas we'll cover..." “Now that we've talked about our spring events, I’ll move to our fall events.”

Respect your prospect’s time and deliver a compressed, relevant, powerful presentation. Then shut up and sit down.

Closing the Deal
Closing a sponsorship deal isn't easy, especially these days when companies are scrutinizing everything and watching every penny. So you could give a great presentation and still lose the deal, if you’re not careful.

Here are a few tips on how to close the deal.

Don’t walk in with one sponsorship option for them to approve or deny. Build all your sponsorship packages from the ground-up, swapping things in and out based on the prospect’s needs, interests and budget.

Offer to lend a hand whenever possible. Companies are busier than ever. And while a sponsorship with you is a great opportunity, their success doesn't depend on it. That's why you should offer to be as helpful as possible.

 For example, when companies buy a sponsorship for a dinner gala they worry they won’t be able to fill the table with senior people from the company. Offer to have your gala chairperson call key members of the senior team with a personal invite.

Increase the touch points. Whenever you’re working with a business on a sponsorship, look for ways to make it less transactional and more meaningful.

 Invite the business owner to visit your offices or to attend a special event as your guest. Maybe some Supporters might be willing to call them to explain the value of partnership and how positive the experience has been for them.

Workshop complete -
Happy trainer !
Finally, don’t forget the mission of your organisation. Focus on your business objectives. I say this because I used to get so caught up in the spider's web of marketing I would forget to catch the fly !

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