Improving what we have traditionally done
Well, to be balanced, cold calling with sponsorship packages does work and has worked for generations. There are thousands of clubs around the country who have large numbers of sponsors providing amazing financial support. Although this is absolutely true, at what cost is this sponsorship and are these clubs maximising their opportunities? The traditional sponsor acquisition process:
- Takes a huge amount of time and effort to attract sponsors
- Sponsorship Co-ordinators often turn over every other season, due to pressure to deliver targets in a very challenging environment or they simply burn out
- Sponsors continually turn over so clubs are always under pressure to attract new sponsors, often by cold-calling them
The reality is that cold-calling and hard-selling is simply not fun and takes a huge amount of time. What is the success rate of a Sponsorship Co-ordinator cold-calling on businesses? One sponsor in ten, one in five?
What’s the Missing Ingredient?
Let’s take the local butcher. The Sponsorship Co-ordinator walks in and asks the butcher to sponsor their club. The poor old butcher gets this question almost on a daily basis. They may be able to throw you a few snags here and there but really are not in a position to give cash to every club who asks.
Take a minute to reframe this scenario. Assuming the butcher is financially able to support a sports club, who could walk in and ask the butcher for support and almost be guaranteed the answer will be yes? Maybe the butcher’s:
• Wife or husband
• Other direct family members
• Close friends
• Business acquaintances (For example – their biggest client)
• Surrounding businesses
There are actually a lot of people, who if they asked the butcher to sponsor them the butcher would do so without hesitation.
Why? Because the Butcher has a close personal relationship of some type with these people and therefore will want to support that person and by extension their sports club.
The Often Fatal Mistake
Apart from clubs continually asking people and businesses they don’t have a relationship with for sponsorship, the other often fatal mistake made in pursuit of sponsors is that we generally try to immediately sell the highest value sponsorship package possible. We then tend to work our way down the list of packages until we find the sponsorship package the business owner will accept. Often this is done with little or no consideration of the potential sponsor’s needs.
So how do we gain high value, long term sponsors?