There is one true sign, apart from the weather, that it is off-season for winter sports here in Australia – that’s the endless trail of public calls for sponsors. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
I may be wrong but I don’t know of any companies just sitting back and waiting for someone to advertise for sponsors before thinking “Finally, I can now make that call I have been wanting to make for ages so I can sponsor them!”.
Whilst making a public call for sponsors smacks of desperation, there are more important reasons to avoid this sponsorship faux pas.
It Sends The Wrong Message
Sponsors want to align themselves with rights holders who are going to help them achieve an objective. Those rights holders who have happy sponsors project those great relationships and, as such, are more likely to attract new sponsors who feel comfort that the rights holder can help them achieve their objective as well.
Not only that, you are straight away asking the sponsor to do all the work from the start and reach out to you rather than the other way around. In my last blog I explained why sponsors hate this – Four Things Brands Want To See From Sponsorship Seekers.
You Are Setting Yourself Up For A Hard Time
A public call will more often than not be answered by people who is not the right fit for you. Sure, you may get lucky occasionally but more likely is that anyone you will land will have no real concept of what they are getting themselves into. Additionally, some will become so demanding, because of their early impressions of you being desperate, that they will want so much that the partnership is barely worthwhile.
This type of effect can quickly become cancerous as sponsors talk to each other and, soon enough, you will have a full portfolio of sponsors who think they can bully you around. Those sponsorships simply become transactional rather than true partnerships that can build over time for mutual benefit.
You Will Be Back At The Well Next Year
If you are somehow successful with a public call, and because of the nature of those relationships above, you will more often than not find people who just want to move on and leave after just one year. There is no commercial or strategic base to these types of deals and, as such, there is no growth in your commercial program. You don’t build continuity and learn how to drive value to a partner over time and this hamstrings your growth – you will never get out of the cycle until you learn to do it
What Are The Alternatives?
There are many alternatives but all of them (agencies, professionals, more experienced staff) will go through the same process … because it works. They will:
- understand the rights holder’s USP;
- understand the audience and who they are;
- identify how they can deliver value utilising their assets; and
- target companies who fit squarely into wanting to speak to that target market.
They will not send cold proposals nor put out a public call for sponsors. They will put the time and effort into having conversations, they will understand the objectives of their potential partner and they will explain how they can help achieve those objectives.
Finally, they won’t do it in the off-season. They will start the conversations and engagement when their content is at its peak or at least relevant. Sure, they may be finalising them and announcing it now, but the preparation work and engagement happened when they had a reason to reach out.
Next year, please don’t put a call out for sponsors because the option between laughing or crying won’t be there; I’ll definitely cry!
Do yourself a favour and put some effort into getting yourself ready to hit the market properly by following the above approach.
Mark Thompson // Managing Director
Mark specialises 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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