||Need To Know: What Not To Do When Selling Sponsorships
Being a Good Listener, Providing Post-Event Recaps and Helping Sponsors Measure Can Go a Long Way in Building Relationships
While most sponsorship sellers have moved well beyond rapid-fire cold calls and generic proposals, many still fall short when pitching sponsors and working with existing partners.
IEG SR asked five sponsorship decision-makers about their pet peeves when working with properties and where there is room for improvement.
Below, sponsorship reps from BMO Harris, Farmers Group, Janus Funds, Panasonic and Regions Financial offer advice on how sellers can improve their game.
Do your homework. Prior to making a pitch, sellers need to have a full understanding of the company they’re approaching. That includes the prospect's distribution channels, new product launches, new competition and previous, current and upcoming marketing campaigns.
"Do a better job of knowing who we are, what we do and what makes us tick. Have a basic understanding of our culture and what our brand stands for," said Chuck Browning, head of sponsorships and corporate giving with Farmers Group.
Be a good listener. While it may sound basic, sellers that are good listeners often gain a leg up on competitors. That includes listening to the needs of a prospect -- their marketing objectives, challenges and requirements.
"Properties need to hear what I'm saying -- those are the people I'm doing business with," said Lesley Poch, director of strategic partnerships, experiential marketing and events with Panasonic Corp. of North America.
"With everyone constantly pitching us, I explain that I'm not going to advertise in a stadium with Mitsubishi video boards or Sony TVs. Why would I do that?"
Others sponsorship decision-makers agree.
"Whether selling a new sponsorship or working with an existing partner, properties need to listen to what our objectives are, what it is we're trying to accomplish, and translate that information into real opportunities for us," said Gillian Fraser, head of U.S. sponsorships with BMO Harris.
Treat relationships as a partnership. When working with sponsors, properties should take the mindset of one plus one equals three.
"We don't like to be viewed as a checkbook where we write a check and walk away. We're very active and engaged in sponsorship, and unfortunately there are some properties that don't like sponsors to be overly involved," said Fraser.
"We want to be at the table having a conversation. They know their property better than we do, and we want to tap into their mind and use our expertise as a bank to leverage the partnership and make it a win-win for both of us."
Help measure success. While many sponsors measure success on their own, properties need to take a vested interest in a partner's success.
"What we really need help with from our partners is a more credible method to measure the value the sponsorships add to our business. I realize it might sound very basic -- and almost silly -- but we constantly challenge our partners to help us come up with better measurement tools that help us internally justify our spend," said Browning.
He isn’t alone. Forty percent of sponsors rank assistance measuring ROI and ROO as an extremely valuable benefit, according to the 2013 IEG/Performance Research Sponsorship Decision-makers Survey.
Offer third-party valuation. Properties can raise their sponsorship packages by using a third-party valuation to establish fair market value.
"It helps our evaluation process if they can measure and justify what they're presenting. We take a lot of that on ourselves, but the more detail a property can provide helps make the process run more efficiently," said Paul Hodges, vice president of sponsorship development with Regions Financial.
The bank uses an outside agency to vet new and existing sponsorship opportunities, he said.
"They do a good job helping us determine value. Many times proposals don't have enough information. The more substantial the better."
Be committed to servicing. Casey Cortese, vice president of experiential marketing with Janus Capital Group and president of The Janus Foundation, believes the biggest area for improvement is having a dedicated fulfillment staff.
"Too often I see properties use interns to take care of this function as if it is simply a matter of checking off a list -- getting the right number of banners hung, placing logos on web sites, etc. While these things are important, the biggest influencer of success lies in effective implementation of activation strategies."
As a result, properties need to invest in team members who understand the complexities of sponsorship marketing and have qualified, creative thinkers who can advance sponsor objectives and ensure goals are met, she said.
Provide post-event fulfillment reports. The people responsible for servicing should also be charged with providing post-event fulfillment reports, a benefit that many properties still do not offer.
"I still work with properties that do not provide post-event reports unless requested, and if required to, think that simply slapping together a pile of photos, press releases and news articles -- which never often mention sponsors -- is an indicator of success," said Cortese.
"Properties should have the means and methodology for providing proof of value back to sponsors, and a well-constructed report should be the rule, not the exception."
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 09/23/13)
What's In It For You:
Many stations forget when they are selling sponsorships that their event, cause, or other NTR opportunities are considered a property by the potential sponsor. And these prospects look at the sales and servicing of that "property" the same as they would look at NASCAR, the Olympic Games, or a concert at a major arena. Avoiding the decision-maker's pet peeves and providing excellence in sincerity and service will give you access to greater amounts of money, a wider variety of sponsor actions and activities, and position your station as a serious contender for their sponsorship dollars.
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