Successful Sponsorship – What makes a good organisation?

Successful Sponsorship – What Makes A Good Organisation?

December 16th, 2015 Posted by

So what makes a successful sponsorship organisation? Here are what I believe are the 5 most important elements and some tips for success.

Throughout my career I have come across many different organisations; some with fantastic sponsorship staff and others with not so competent sponsorship staff.

While it may seem like staff would often be the reason that sponsorship success is made or broken; it is not always the case. There is so much more that goes into managing sponsorships than just those who actually execute them.

So what makes a successful sponsorship organisation? Here are what I believe are the 5 most important elements and some tips for success.

1. Play As A Team

Organisations who work together will always be more successful than those who don’t. As most people out there can tell you, executing and delivering sponsorship benefits takes input and support from all different areas of a business.

The first step to running a successful sponsorship program is to ensure everyone is aware of what you are doing and also why and how they play an important role in sponsorship success. Collaborate with other areas of your business and share the success they help bring.

2. Know Your Strengths

It is amazing how often people create new processes, executions or promises which lay outside of what they can actually deliver on a day-to-day basis. This just places enormous pressure on the administrative side of sponsorship execution.

Even the most successful sponsorship professionals can’t maintain this. However, those who know their strengths, play to them and execute accordingly will almost never fail to deliver and look great in the process.

When talking to sponsors, and offering partnerships, it is important know your resources and capabilities by understanding how and what you want and need to deliver.

3. Be Organised With Good Systems

The world of sponsorship is so dynamic; it is ever changing and no two days are ever the same. Organised sponsorship managers can cruise through their delivery of sponsorship. Disorganised ones will miss things, get caught on the hop and always chase their tail.

Creating a good sponsorship management system, finding one or having an organisation which supports evolving best practice, will free up inefficient time and allow you to be prepared when curve balls come your way. You’ll also be focused on growing your portfolio rather than simply maintaining it.

4. Focus On Relationships

I constantly harp that successful sponsorship management is as much about good relationship management as it is about delivery. This isn’t just about your external relationships with partners; it is also about internal relationships.

Successful sponsorship professionals are one of the few positions in a rights holder that need to have working relationships across the entire organisation. That’s because everyone is often needed to help deliver and a lot of the time favours are needed to be asked to deliver things at the last minute. You’ll only receive those favours and help from other staff because you have good relationships with them.

5. Innovate And Be Attractive

As they say, “No good idea is original”. Instead, it is how it is executed which makes it unique.

Great sponsorship organisations will support sponsorship professionals who want to try new things, explore new markets and ways of securing your commercial programs with new and attractive offerings.

I have seen this work in person and the best way to explain this is to tell you a story (which also highlights the key components of why this organisation is what I regard as a great sponsorship organisation)

I once travelled around the USA, researching best practice sponsorship across the NFL, MLS and College Basketball. One of the organisations I spent some time with had an awesome new sponsorship sales program they were about to execute, with the full support of their executive. They called it ‘The Bench’.

They had identified a bunch of businesses that they wanted to have involved in their organisation as sponsors and invited them to join ‘The Bench’. The businesses paid a super cheap price to join the bench and then the organisation would identify their distressed stock and periodically offer it to their Bench free of charge. This allowed them to engage with the businesses on The Bench and demonstrate what could be achieved by partnering together.

Their plan was to use the time to get to know these businesses, show them a good time then, when sponsorship vacancies came up, tailor a package that suited what they knew their prospect liked (which increased their chances of securing the partnership).

I have seen this work in a similar way here in Australia and I know the results have been the same. The organisation in Australia has NEVER had to look outside their ‘Bench’ when a partnership fell over last minute or got pulled. It is a fantastic innovation because it plays to their strengths and uses their resources to execute.

Good sponsorship professionals can hold up a program, however, good organisations can replace good sponsorship professionals and continue on just as strong long after they are gone.

So start following best practice today and become a successful sponsorship organisation.

First step is to rate yourself against the above five areas.


Mark Thompson - SponServe

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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