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The sponsorship package is an outcome, not the starting point

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Most organizations start their sponsorship journey by creating a sponsorship package. They create beautifully designed proposals, edited by multiple levels internally, voted on by the board and written (and rewritten) with every single eventuality in mind.

“If we create a sponsorship deck that covers absolutely every option for a sponsor, then every company we approach will see something for them” is the guiding logic.

Then, once all of the above is complete, and only then, does the organization reach out to sponsors, sending in the masterfully created sponsorship package and waiting for the sale.

Sound familiar? It should! It is the default approach of virtually all organizations seeking sponsorship. Unfortunately, it is also the worst possible way to sell sponsorship.

The sponsorship package is not where you begin your sponsorship sales process, it is where it ends. The process of developing a sponsorship package should uncover valuable information from within your organization and not simply describe what you think sponsors want.

Check out these five steps in building your sponsorship package.

Inventory building

You can’t sell product without stock and your sponsorship assets are what you have to sell. Most sponsorship packages start with a 5 minute exercise where the person writing the package makes a list of the things they think sponsors want. It usually starts and ends with “logos on stuff” and includes free tickets, mention from the MC and other assets focused on building “awareness.”

Instead, do this:

Get your entire team together and ask:

  • What do our sponsors want to achieve?
  • What actions do they want our audience to take?
  • What do they want us to measure to prove that we delivered?
  • What do our sponsors want more of and what do they hate?
  • What does our audience want more of?
  • Where can we put logos?
  • What can we do without ANY logos?

List every single idea you have, without exception! Now look at your competitors and see what they offer to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Once you’ve done this, reach out to at least five sponsorship prospects and interview them, asking them the same questions.

Once you’ve defined an inventory of assets for sale, the next step in building a sponsorship package is to understand your value. Common practice is to start with how much money you need to raise and then divide it arbitrarily across your sponsorship levels (Gold, Silver, Bronze anyone?).

This is a dangerous practice that alienates sponsors, leaves money on the table and ensures that your sponsorship proposals make a direct trip to the recycling bin!

Valuation is simple in concept but highly complex in practice, depending on the size of your inventory. Start by asking the question “How would my sponsor get this exposure without me?” and then look to those sources for values. Logo placement, for example, is similar to small ads in publications targeting your audience. Sponsor wants an email address? How much will it cost them to get an email address without you (through social media or buying a list)? What about sampling? Look to events attracting the same audience as a starting point.

Know thyself

Most sponsorship packages start with pages and pages of things like mission, vision, history of the organization, maybe a bio or two of the founder or a prominent board member and then a description of the social impact of the charity.

Including details about your organization is very important but this high level of detail does not help a sponsor understand the value of your sponsorship opportunity. Instead, spend the first three pages of your sponsorship deck describing your audience in detail. The “general population” is not an audience, nor is “everyone” or “all of city X, country X” etc.

Send out a survey to your audience and collect the following as a starting point:

  • Job titles and industry
  • Wealth data
  • Demographic information
  • Preferred brands
  • Coming purchases
  • Hobbies and past times

Aim for no less than 20 data points. This is the stuff sponsors want to learn about and it is this information that will help you to stand out above other organizations, with equally good causes, who don’t understand their audience.

Develop activation ideas

Putting logos on things is still part of the sponsorship world but if all you’re selling is logo placement and free tickets, you are in big trouble! Sponsors want to connect with your audience, your membership and your database. The best way to do that is to offer your audience something that interests them (based on their answers from your survey!). Rather then enduring yet another speech at your next gala, offer your guests something that adds value to their lives or that solves a problem they are experiencing.

Those are the things that sponsors want to be part of! Describe the unique opportunities that you offer your audience in your sponsorship package, not in a chart with values, but as a collection of examples that show how you work with your sponsors.

Only include the things that your sponsors want

The biggest problem with using a sponsorship package as the starting point of your sponsorship journey is that you have to guess at what your sponsors want. The attempt to include everything you can think of in your material so as not to miss out on a key detail is an impossible pursuit and makes for unreadable sponsorship packages.

Instead, include only and exactly what each sponsor wants. How do you accomplish this? By talking to your prospect BEFORE you submit a proposal. That’s right, you will actually meet with and sell to your prospect before you finish each sponsorship package. Don’t give them a list of things to choose from. Instead, talk to them about your audience and their goals, and then discuss how you can work together to connect them in meaningful ways to their target audience and ideal customer.

Using this approach, you will spend less time in internal debate about what to write on page 17 of a sponsorship package for a hypothetical sponsor and instead will develop sales material perfectly suited for your prospects. You will also start to see that a sponsorship package is the outcome of good fundraising and not the driver of the fundraising process.

Want to learn more about this topic? You can watch a recorded webinar presented by Chris last year, and we also encourage you to sign up for our upcoming free webinar with Chris happening this fall.

Chris is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective, a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and an international speaker and consultant on all things sponsorship marketing. Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn

Chris Baylis is an expert in sponsorship valuation and sponsorship strategy. Chris works with brands and sponsorship properties to define their sponsorship goals, determine market value of their sponsorship assets and create strategies that work. Chris is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective, a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and an international speaker and consultant on all things sponsorship marketing. Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn

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