I was in my dream job, sponsors were happy and I was beating targets. For the first time in my career I was due a bonus and was hoping for a pay rise – until my performance review.
For my entire high schooling, and right through University, my career goal never changed: I wanted to work in sports management in the professional environment.
I knew I was never going to be a first class player but I loved sport. I wanted nothing more than to do whatever it took to not only land a job but be great at it and one day become known for my sports management skills.
Packed up and moved in 2 weeks
So, you can imagine my excitement when I landed a great job with my favorite Rugby team. Within 2 weeks I had packed up, moved interstate and was into it.
I didn’t get the advantage of a handover from my predecessor. So, straight away, I was forced to build relationships from scratch with my sponsors and deliver benefits for an event and season within my first 2 weeks on the job. Amazingly, this never changed from when I left and I still see it every day.
My philosophy in that job was simple - enjoy myself but work hard and make sure, whatever I did, I kept my sponsors happy through servicing and relationship management.
My first year was tough but really enjoyable. I managed 43 sponsors and was in charge of selling all available properties. So you can imagine I was pretty busy! Through it all, I delivered everything promised, developed a communication program which ensured all my sponsors got spoken to and did my best to try and see everyone at events.
So when my performance review, and bonus/pay rise time, came around, I was really excited … until I walked in the room.
My boss at the time opened up with the following:
“Mark, I have spoken to a good sample of our sponsors and I am not really happy. A number of these sponsors are concerned with their lack of service and claim they haven’t been spoken to all season. Some claim they didn’t even know who you were and haven’t received all their benefits”.
I was dumbfounded. I had spoken to EVERYONE, at least monthly, and I knew ALL benefits, if not delivered, had been offered.
I later found out that 2 of the sponsors he was talking about were either a. in renewal and were trying to drive down their price (even though I had actually over delivered and given them an extra free sponsors trip) or b. not communicating internally in that I was dealing with their GM of Marketing yet my boss was dealing with their CEO. Their GM and CEO weren’t communicating well.
The valuable lesson
Either way, I learned a very valuable lesson: Managing sponsor records in a professional way is a must. Regardless of your relationship, people move on and people can also do business in funny ways and will easily throw you under the bus when it comes to money.
I was still developing this skill years later when I left that job yet, again, I learned a valuable lesson in records management and sponsorship program continuity. Even though I had created a handover document, my former employer had to get me back for the first 2 games of the season to show their new sponsorship manager how to deliver on a game day.
These lessons led me to where I am today and the development of SponServe. My boss back then actually gave me budget to help address the issues and I searched high and low for a solution to manage my sponsorship program, maintain good records and keep excellent and tight governance over my program. I found some programs that do part of the job but nothing was better than my brain and a spreadsheet.
SponServe answers that problem because we simply built the sponsorship management system I wished I always had.
I probably would have got that bonus/pay rise if SponServe was around then!
Mark Thompson // Director
Mark specializes in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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