Sponsorship acquittal is a necessary evil in retaining your sponsors! By that I mean it’s time consuming, it’s administratively heavy, a lot of the time it is really subjective, but, at the end of the day you have to do it to show you are a valuable proposition for the sponsor to keep supporting. So how can you acquit effectively, but still stand out from the crowd?
So what is Sponsorship Acquittal?
In general terms, it is showing your sponsor that you have delivered everything you have promised them in their agreement and that the investment they have made has (hopefully) been exceeded by the value of those benefits they have received.
In some cases it will include a form of media value over and above these benefits and also may have a ROI in terms of sales/leads generated as a result of the partnership.
But if EVERYONE has to acquit, how can you acquit and stand out from the crowd to make retention of that sponsor easier?
1. Deliver what is promised and report on it
One thing that will really stand out to a sponsor is if a benefit is contractually promised but not delivered. As such, you need to have a system of knowing exactly what is promised to each sponsor, recording its delivery and then reporting back to the sponsor when/how it was delivered.
2. Provide proof of delivery
It is one thing to deliver what was promised but it is another to prove it. You need to document how it was delivered or offered then include this delivery report in your post season acquittal to sponsors. I say “offered” because often we try to deliver but sponsors don’t take advantage of a benefit and sometimes they forget that.
3. Focus on sponsor hot points
Certain benefits within your partnership will hold specific relevance and importance to sponsors. These hot points should hold specific focus within your acquittal and throughout the year for that matter. Your ongoing conversations and relationship with your sponsor should help you to ascertain exactly what these benefits are and more importantly what the sponsor is looking to get out of them.
4. Confirm your business case and alignment
Further to the focus on the hot points, by being able to deliver these benefits, with extra attention and assistance in helping the sponsor use these to activate their specific business objectives, will help you to derive real value for them.
A real partnership has mutual alignment in that the opportunities and value you can provide a sponsor align with their corporate objectives. As such, this is your opportunity to provide proof rather than simply proposing that this is the case. If you can do that then your value to that sponsor is directly aligned to that alignment rather than the quality of the canapes or wine.
5. Spend time to make it presentable and timely
Spending some time to make your acquittal look professional can be really important. It shows you care and have attention to detail. That makes people feel valued.
Plan throughout the year to capture images of branding, signage or activations taking place. Include these with your logo, the sponsor’s logo and do it in a presentable format so that the document is easy to read and shareable throughout your sponsor’s organisation.
It sounds simple, but with the time it takes to acquit and review partnerships this is often left off the priority list. However, when you are competing against other sponsored Rights Holders your professional presentation could help you stand out from the crowd.
Timeliness is also important. If you are trying to align your value to your sponsor’s corporate objectives there is no point reviewing after their budgets for the following year have been set. Know your sponsor’s business practices, align your activity (including a progress acquittal if needed) and position yourself as a core part of their marketing mix and business planning and not just an activity which they decide upon depending on their cash-flow position.
Acquittals are important but they are more important if used as a relationship management and building tool. As we all know, delivering what is promised is one thing but your relationship and relevance to them is what will dictate any ongoing partnership.
Mark Thompson // 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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