In part one and two of this three part series we covered how to increase sponsorship revenue, how to build a solid sponsorship package and how to get the meeting (and the second meeting!). So what else could there be? Once you have the cheque in hand, you just move on to the next prospect right? Definitely not. In fact, once you have the cash in hand the real work begins.
If done properly, activation, fulfillment and follow up will make you stand out above all others in the cause marketing space and will also help you close more revenue for your next fiscal period.
Sponsorship activation is, at its most basic, making sure that your sponsors take advantage of every asset they paid for in your custom sponsorship package. Imagine how frustrated you would be if you paid for upgrades in a new car only to find that they aren’t there when you got the car. The same applies to sponsorship, but it’s more complicated than just allowing your sponsors the opportunity. You have to activate it (hence the term).
What does this mean? Well, if you allow your sponsor to speak at an event, put their logo on your website and have a table at your gala then you want to make sure they take advantage of these opportunities. If you are offering your sponsor ad space, free product placement and a booth at a conference, then it’s up to you to make sure they meet the deadlines for each item.
This is incredibly important from a customer service perspective but also because you are going to hold yourself accountable to your sponsors by giving them a fulfillment report once the campaign ends.
The sponsorship fulfillment report
The best way to make sure you fully activate your sponsors is by creating an activation strategy. Use your sponsorship package as a guide and outline key dates, deadlines and who from your team is accountable for each piece. This sets you up nicely for your fulfillment report.
What is a fulfillment report? It’s a formal report that proves to your sponsors that you did everything you said you would. It’s also an excuse for one more meeting. More on that later.
To build a fulfillment report I make a simple chart out of all of the benefits I promised my sponsors and then tell my sponsor whether or not I delivered on my promise for each item. I include stats on event attendees or how many people used the program in question as well as social media data, web traffic - everything that proves return on investment and that my team and I went above and beyond.
I also include photos of: assets, logo placement, screen shots of the website, signage, program ads, booths, product placement, speaking opportunities and action shots of sponsors interacting with my board and event attendees. Basically, if I can prove it with a photo or physical representation, I do. I then put it all together into a portfolio, or digital product, and get in touch with my sponsors to let them know I have their fulfillment report. I use it to invite them to a follow up meeting, in person or by phone, to hear their impressions of the event or campaign and I give them the fulfillment report to review before the meeting.
Be prepared! You will probably hear things like “I’ve never seen one of these before” or “nobody else does this” or something like that from the majority of your sponsors. This is the royal treatment and what you should be doing for every single sponsor. It also gives your sponsors something to circulate internally to justify their sponsorship investment, making it easier for them to justify the investment again next year.
The power of the follow up meeting
By the time you have sold, activated, delivered and fulfilled a sponsorship package you REALLY know your sponsors. You know them well enough to ask them for honest feedback and to actually get it. This is why the follow up meeting is so important. If your sponsors are willing to tell you what they liked, what they hated and what they would like more of that they hadn’t thought of earlier in the planning cycle, it must mean they really care about their investment. Meet with them, gather even more intel about what’s important to them and use that to make an even better proposal for them for the following year. There is no better way to increase your retention rate and move sponsors up the ladder than to deliver a fulfillment report and have a follow up meeting.
Not sure where to start? Here are some questions you can ask in the follow up meeting:
- What did you think of the fulfillment report?
- How did the event or campaign go in your opinion?
- Did you see the reaction you hoped for from your target demographic? How do you think we can improve that next year?
- We would love to have you back again next year, what can I change or improve to make this a must do campaign or event again next year?
Try these questions and this approach and I promise that you will be pleasantly surprised.
There you have it, a roadmap for the full cycle of corporate sponsorship and some quick tips to apply right away to improve your results. Give some of these tips a try this fall and see what happens. If you are concerned about resources, time or risk in trying a new approach then try some A/B testing. Pick 10%, 20% or 50% of your corporate prospects and try this approach with them and compare the results to the method you are currently using. Keep what works and discard the rest.
Good luck on your sponsorship journey! Remember, the goal here is to build genuine partnerships and not to “sell” something. Take the pressure off and enjoy the process.
Chris Baylis is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa. Chris is also the Founder and Chief Blogger for The Sponsorship Collective and can be found on Twitter writing about all things cause marketing.
Photos (from top) via iStock.com. All photos used with permission.