five steps to signing off the year in style with your partners.

Dear Sam, I wish I did this at Christmas…

December 14th, 2017 Posted by

In this ongoing series, Sam Irvine, SponServe’s Territory Manager, Australia and New Zealand, ponders his past life as a commercial manager at a rights holder and what he wishes he knew. Then, he pens a letter to his younger self. This one is, of course, about Christmas!


14 December 2017

Re: Five steps to signing off the year in style with your partners.

Dear Sam,

It’s that fantastic time of the year again when the mood for giving shifts into overdrive and all your partners start ‘shutting down’ for the festive season.

It’s probably halfway through the W-League Season about now and a perfect time to stand out to all of your commercial partners.

In the past, this would have been a good reason to pull back on your communication with your commercial partners and quite possibly send through the generic, obligatory, Christmas Card.

I was pondering how important this time of the year can be in cementing relationships, not just personal, but professional as well. I also remembered the impact that small gestures have had on me, from different sponsors in the past, and I wanted to provide you with some suggestions on how to make the most of the festive season with your commercial partners.

1. Thank the partner for (enter no.) of Christmases together

This can be in the form of a simple e-card or a personalised card but, by identifying this milestone, you are not only acknowledging the length of the partnership but also the important moments that come with it.

2. Summarise what a great year you had together

At a bare minimum, provide a report of deliverables that were completed (including photos and other evidence). Why not provide some colour and flare to go with the season? This will obviously depend upon your level of relationship, and how comfortable you may be with being a little personal, but make the most of the happy period of the year. Have some fun.

3. Provide a small, personalised gift

This is optional and obviously dependent upon available budget but, by ‘personalised’, I don’t just mean an engraved pen with their name on it.

Instead, utilise your personal knowledge of them. It may be a book on a topic they might be interested in, a voucher for a music store because they are a music fan or, a donation to a charity you know they support. If they are a fan of the club, send them something personal from the team or their favourite player.

This highlights that you understand your partner more than just on a professional level. It also shows a deeper level of connection and, after all, we know the old saying “we work with people we like”.

4. Set out the plan for 2018

This is all about setting the scene for what you are aiming to make 2018 look like. Outline what you hope to achieve for next year and what some of the will be.

Be a little creative with some aspirational comments but ensure that it is relevant to them as a partner. Don’t just throw out things like “It’s our 20th year in the competition”. Instead, identify how the partner can utilise this milestone to achieve their objectives in 2018. Make it about them.

5. Office Hours and Next Meeting

Finally, outline whether your office/contact hours will change over the festive period as well as setting a meeting for early 2018.

By simply just going silent, because of the holidays, you assume that the sponsor will be doing the same thing. They may not be and positioning your availability may help you both get ahead of any potential issues.

All of these steps help you get on the front foot for an awesome 2018.

Sam, hopefully this letter helps identify some really simple but effective ways in which you can stand out from the pack in the lead up to Christmas. Now, go out there and make some Christmas sponsorship wishes come true.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Irvine, the older one.


Sam Irvine // Territory Manager – Australia & New Zealand

Sam is passionate about helping organisations maximise their sponsorship programs and has worked with brands and rights holders at all levels. Sam is always looking for ways to improve himself and loves working with people who give as much as they take.


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