What NOT to do when seeking Sponsors

What NOT to do

Most clubs approach sponsorship in the same “traditional” manner. Generally they will appoint one or maybe two people to be responsible for retaining existing club sponsors while seeking to continually attract new sponsors to the club. Some clubs may set a budget or a target but most simply say “good luck, get what you can!”, while acknowledging the difficulty of attracting sponsors. Let’s look at a typical process for a Sponsorship Co-ordinator appointed to the role for the first time.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Packages for Sale

Most often the first thing the new Sponsorship Co-ordinator does is sit down and work out the sponsorship packages for the year. You know the ones, the Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsorship packages. Many clubs have to do this from scratch each year as they do not hand over their sponsorship information from co-ordinator to co-ordinator (but hold that thought as we will cover it in depth later). First the sponsorship manager will start with the Gold sponsorship. For businesses who take out the “Gold” package, well they can have the “farm”. Their business will get naming rights to everything, its logo plastered over every player, child and wall in the club and business owners will be invited to every club event and function throughout the year. Let’s value this at? Well let’s hope we get $2,000. Right, now for the Silver and Bronze packages. They simply get slightly reduced benefits compared to the Gold and therefore the cost is reduced. Logical! Right, now we are ready to sell.

The new Sponsorship Co-ordinator will then zealously set off to take the sponsorships to their local businesses. Naively confident that, with an afternoon of chatting over a coffee, talking about their beloved club, they will sell their whole sponsorship portfolio. Easy! Wrong! “See you next year” So off the Sponsorship Co-ordinator bounds, firstly to the clubs existing sponsors who will hopefully write out the obligatory annual cheque. Not normally for one of the prized Gold, Silver or Bronze packages but for the smallest amount possible. As the Sponsorship Co-ordinator leaves the sponsor they are too disappointed to hear the local business owner farewelling them with a sarcastic “see you next year”. Of course inferring that will be the last the business owner sees or hears of the club until the same time next year where they come to pick up the next cheque.

Fastest Way to a Broken Heart is to Cold Call

Not to be disheartened, the new Sponsorship Co-ordinator turns their focus towards new sponsors. How hard can they be to attract, right? Rock up, unannounced, tell the story of your club and watch them write out a cheque for the Gold package. Although we haven’t sold the premium sponsorship yet we are still buoyed by the fact that most of last year’s sponsors have again sponsored the club.

The new Sponsorship Co-ordinator hits the road, walking into local business after local business at first asking and then as time goes on begging them to sponsor their club. This has now effectively become a cold-calling exercise and the Sponsorship Co-ordinator quickly learns what we all think about cold callers. They are rarely even listened to, let alone supported, regardless of the worthiness of the cause. Some people of course do but most simply don’t. This is the same when trying to sell sports sponsorship, some local businesses will support the club but many will not. Continually getting knock-backs from businesses is demoralising for the new Sponsorship Co-ordinator and it doesn’t take long for even the most hardened individual to run out of patience cold-calling on local businesses. Disillusioned, the sponsorship selling process stops, sponsorship targets are not met and in extreme cases a club’s season may now already be destined to fail.

There has to be a better way!

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...

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