“See you next year”
These four simple words are an acknowledgement from the sponsor that they see their contribution to the club as a donation, for which they get very little if anything in return. It also highlights that they certainly have no other involvement with the club.
This type of relationship is generally an opportunity lost as the sponsor may have the capacity to contribute significantly more money, products, services, expertise or resources. The sponsor may see there is no value for them to contribute more and therefore may choose not to sponsor the following year.
A common mistake clubs make is that they think sponsors don’t want to be involved in their club, that they don’t have the time or the inclination to give more than financial support. Sure, for some sponsors this will be the case but for most the opposite is in fact true. Check out the key ways for retaining sponsors.
Sponsors want to belong to your club too.
In the ideal scenario, sponsors would become an engaged part of the club community where they are participating in at least one of the following activities:
• A sporting participant
• Actively participate in social activities offered by the club
• Assist in the running of the club (volunteering)
Make sure to include your sponsor (and their families, friends and associates) across the year in club events, social events and on game days, maybe even as a player!
You may even create an exclusive membership category for them. Sponsors then become “members” and a strong part of the club.
Having a day or an event where the club invites all their sponsors to join them at the club for social gathering of some type is a great concept. Generally this will be on match day so the sponsors get to socialise and then see their sponsored players/teams in action.
The best time to hold a ‘Sponsor’s Day’ is actually before the start of the season and the day should have some very clear objectives. This of course includes thanking the sponsors for making the season possible but also:
• Ensuring all sponsors have a clear understanding of the club’s objectives and vision and invite them to help the club achieve them
• Creating ways for the sponsors to participate in club activities
Keeping your Sponsor’s Information safe
We speak to so many businesses who are willing to sponsor clubs, or who did sponsor a club and would do so again except the club “never comes back”. It is amazing how much work clubs put into attracting new sponsors but neglect to put the same effort into their existing sponsors.
Often clubs do not ask their sponsors to sponsor them again the next year because they have lost the information relating to their previous seasons sponsors.
Create a Sponsorship Database
No two sponsors are the same. Each has different motives for sponsoring your club, different desired outcomes and even different components to their sponsorship arrangement.
The one way they are all similar is that they all want to feel like they belong to your club and that they are not being taken for granted.
The reality of not keeping these details and not knowing the basic information of a long term sponsor when approaching them can make them feel less inclined to support your club into the future.
A critical component of ensuring that each sponsorship manager, year after year has all the information they need about each of your sponsors is to create a database of information which includes current and past sponsors, contacts, packages and any other information that helps to support this long term relationship.
Where to Store Your Sponsorship Information?
Wherever possible, see if your club can create a separate membership category in your membership database. Given we believe that sponsors should be considered members this makes sense but primarily is because clubs manage and maintain their membership registers relatively well.
This reduces, although does not eliminate the potential the information will be lost over time from having this information stored on personal computers.
Inducting the Next Sponsorship Manager
In a perfect world each time your club has a new sponsorship manager, the previous sponsorship manager would ensure their sponsorship database is updated and would then talk the incoming sponsorship manager through each of the club sponsors. Ideally the outgoing sponsorship manager would actually take the new sponsorship manager to visit each of the sponsors and introduce them personally. It would be a nice touch that shows the club respects its sponsors enough to take the time to hand over the relationship. This is a very powerful act of respect and commitment by the club to the sponsor and reaffirms that they are not taking the sponsor for granted.
More about Attracting Sponsors:
a) What is sponsorship?
b) Why do clubs seek sponsors?
c) Understanding why businesses sponsor local clubs
d) How do we best approach sponsors?
e) How to value your club’s sponsorship packages and offers
f) How to create value from your club’s assets to attract and keep sponsors
g) How to prove your club’s value to sponsors
h) Sponsorship Do’s and Don’ts
j) Creating the perfect sponsorship proposal