||Getting It Done: Prospecting Sponsors and Closing Deals
Properties Should Attend Trade Shows to Prospect Sponsors and Offer Turnkey Activation Platforms to Close Deals
What are veteran sellers doing to identify prospects and close deals? What are they doing to add value to sponsorship offers?
IEG SR asked those questions to sales vets at two properties: Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Traverse City, Mich.'s National Cherry Festival.
Below, they share feedback on closing deals in today's sales environment.
Attend trade shows.
David McKillips, Six Flags' senior vice president of corporate alliances, has found success using trade shows to uncover potential partners.
Case in point: The sales vet attended last week's E3 show to identify prospects in the computer and video game categories.
When attending events, McKillips tries to identify upcoming product launches that overlap Six Flag's summer and fall promotional platforms.
"We make introductions, learn about new products and look for a natural marriage with our brand, audience and events."
Once a prospect has been identified, McKillips learns as much as possible about the company and its products. That includes the company's target demographic, distribution channels, in-store marketing programs and sales goals.
The seller tries to glean much of that information from sales reps.
"Hearing what salespeople want helps us from an overall sponsorship perspective."
The strategy has paid off: Six Flags last year secured a partnership at E3 with Sega of America, Inc. The video game company sponsored Six Flag's Fright Fest on behalf of three titles: Rise of Nightmares, Sonic Generations and The House of the Dead: Overkill—Extended Cut.
Six Flags reps also attend the International Consumer Electronics Show, National Restaurant Assn. show and the Sweet & Snacks Expo, among others.
Be proactive with activation ideas.
Properties should be prepared to share activation ideas when pitching potential partners.
Chuck O’Connor, director of corporate partnerships with the National Cherry Festival, used that strategy this year to close a new deal with Beam Global, Inc.
The sales vet gained Beam's interest with the idea of selling cherry-flavored spirits at the festival. Beam will pour Cruzan Black Cherry Rum, Dekuyper Cherry Pucker and other cherry-based spirits.
The July 7-14 festival is working with Beam on on-and-off-premise activation programs that will take place prior to the event, he added.
Provide turnkey execution platforms.
Looking to add value to its sponsorship packages, Six Flags over the past few years has placed more focus on offering turnkey activation platforms. That includes everything from printing promotional material to developing ad creative and providing on-site brand ambassadors.
"There is often a challenge when it comes to the cost of execution. This helps us get over that hurdle," said McKillips.
The capability requires little out-of-pocket expense, said McKillips, who taps the theme park's TV production studio, creative staff and other in-house resources.
Six Flags uses singers, dancers and other in-park talent to serve as brand ambassadors, he added.
"They are charismatic with great personalities, and this gives them an opportunity to gain experience in experiential marketing."
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 06/11/12)
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