Sponsorship, everyone wants more. In fact, a mentor of mine always says that he has never met an organisation who thinks they have enough money or financial supporters – that is very true. Here’s what to do about it.
Over my career I have heard boards or committees, particularly new ones, think that the answer to all their financial problems is to find more sponsorship – like those within the organisation haven’t thought of that or haven’t already been trying! I also hear many excuses about why it won’t work for them.
In fact, at the recent BOSS event in Sydney, I heard just that - “We really can’t find sponsors because we have no access to broadcast and therefore a lack of reach against the big guys; that makes it hard”.
My immediate thought when I heard that was, “This organisation isn’t ready to be sourcing sponsors anyway and there are two reasons why”.
They Don’t Know Their USP
This organisation didn’t know what their clear Unique Selling Point (USP) was. The best point to start, for any organisation looking to enter the sponsorship market or increase their portfolio, is to nail down their USP. You don’t have to be broadcast all over the country or the world or have massive digital reach to be successful – you just need to be able to articulate why you are different and turn that into a story.
Successful sponsorship is just as much about telling engaging and emotive stories as it is about being far reaching.
They Are Not Strategic and Not Realistic
Only those brands who are after national and international reach, for business purposes, are after broadcast and large levels of exposure. For this organisation to make that comment it is clear that they are chasing companies who are large national or multi-national corporates. There are only a relatively small amount of Fortune 500 companies out there and they position themselves amongst the elite on purpose; so why chase them?
On the other hand, there are tens of thousands of small to medium businesses around, who all still need to market themselves, and if you know your USP and their objectives you may just find alignment with them.
Look for your quick wins as there are some obvious targets out there who support and supply to specific industries or sectors within those industries. Simply find out how you can help them.
Then there is the opportunity to look realistically at how you stack up within your market, and industry, and align yourself with companies of similar status within their fields. Conversely, there is no point in a state-based gymnastics club or local charity chasing a multi-national oil company for sponsorship; there is simply no alignment.
6 Ways To Be Sponsorship Ready
With those observations in mind, there are six ways you can be sponsorship ready.
- Find your USP
- Write your story
- Be strategic and realistic
- Find alignment with companies and organisations that suit your value proposition
- Be prepared to operate professionally – make a pitch, follow that through and manage/service that sponsor
- Be flexible – one big advantage of being a smaller organisation is the ability to change and move quickly. So, build relationships with your sponsors that allow you to do that so that you can maintain their support
Think Outside Sponsorship
As a rights holder, sponsorship is not always the whole answer. There are many ways that diversified revenue can be an income sources for you including:
- fundraising (I mean proper fundraising, not just sausage sizzles and raffles);
- grants; and
- social enterprise.
So, keep your eyes open because no matter how big you are there is always more opportunity to grow a bigger slice of the commercial pie.
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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