Tag Archives: attitude

How to find a sponsor for your brilliant idea or event.

Lifes2good cycle sponsor

5 ways to check that you have the right attitude towards finding a sponsor.

We made a presentation recently to a group of NGOs about the difference between a sponsor and donor. The audience comprised sponsorship seekers and/or fundraisers, so the presentation was customised in its content.

It is not our intention to revisit the presentation here, but we would point out that the main discussion running through the session was that of attitude. Our objective was to change the attendees’ attitude towards sponsorship and fundraising by demonstrating the difference between the two.

As a result of our half day session, it appeared that we were successful in that most attendees recognised that sponsorship is a joint marketing activity as opposed to the giving nature of companies supporting a fundraising campaign.

Recently, we wrote a blog post on the topic of sponsorship engagement (here), in which we offered various tips for sponsors and some for sponsees (sponsorship seekers). Today, in this blog post we would like to continue our sponsorship theme by writing about a sponsee’s attitude when approaching potential sponsors.

Let’s start at the beginning. Event owners, in any category, should have one focus only, and that focus should be on producing an event that will keep their audience engaged. Ultimately, it is the consistent positive experience of the audience/attendee that, over time, turns them into appreciative and loyal fans because their passion is being satiated. If the owner then wants to enhance the fan’s experience in some way, they may well search for a sponsor/partner to assist them.

It might be easy to write standard proposals for a Top 100 Companies list, but be warned – this is usually a complete waste of a sponsee’s time, due to lack of relevancy.

Do your homework first.

The very first step for all event owners is to know exactly what type of event they have and what it is that they can offer potential sponsors. The second step, building a target list of prospects, is not an easy one. Our own methodology for this stage is to compile three sub-lists and then merge them into one.

Our lists would include, a) what companies/brands would appear to be a ‘good fit’ with the event from a positioning point of view. The next list, b) is one of personal contacts/relationships that you (or your team), have with the first list of companies particularly, or with any other companies. The third list, c) outlines brands that are currently active in marketing to the same audience as the event

The third step is adopting the right attitude before meeting any potential sponsor. As mentioned above, a sponsorship is a joint marketing activity so here are some tips as to how to have the right business attitude to sponsorship.

  1. Do some background research on each potential sponsor – find out about their culture, product lines, brands, competition, marketing channels.
  2. Prepare to be a valuable business partner by using your experience of the event/fans – match their vision, mission and goals with yours. Understand their audience.
  3. Discover what they are saying in public about their business objectives – if a public company, the annual report is a mine of information; research their social media.
  4. Identify ways for them to turn your event into a business opportunity – the partnership must be a win-win-win for the sponsor, the sponsee and the audience.
  5. Make sure you can show how you will measure success – assign responsibilities, fulfilment reports, benchmarks, audience research etc.

Event owners must be committed to the implementation of activation strategies and to ensuring that the sponsor gets the credit where applicable. In this regard, the importance of a fulfilment report cannot be over emphasised. Not only will it show that agreed milestones have been met but it can also help sponsors justify their investment to an internal audience. Furthermore, it can show where the basic terms were exceeded and it can be used as a basis for renewal discussions.

Determine if your event offers real value to a sponsor.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the sponsor, for a moment. All companies have business objectives and they use various marketing tools to help achieve them and grow their business. Sponsorship remains one of the more useful marketing tools in this regard, in my opinion. This is mainly in response to the fact that customers are expecting more personal engagement from brand touch points.

We all agree that every company wants growth (better results), with minimum costs and in the fastest way possible. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense for event owners to focus on helping companies to make informed decisions on sponsorship opportunities and not just on an event that requires funding?

If a company decides to go the sponsorship route it will be because they perceive some element of real value, by doing so. A real value is where the sponsor believes that they are getting more from the sponsorship than just the financial cost they are paying to be involved.

Typically, a sponsor’s objectives might not have anything to do with the event at all. For example, objectives could be all or any of the following:

  • Awareness, visibility and/or testing of a new product/service
  • Increasing brand loyalty/reinforcing brand values
  • Stimulating sales/meeting trade partners / entertaining prospects
  • Building a relationship with the sponsee / motivating staff

The point here is that generally, the benefits being offered to a sponsor have to be carefully selected so as to match the sponsors’ expressed and unexpressed wishes and expectations.

Doing the homework, as suggested above, will highlight your commitment to the prospect. It will also show that you are interested in their partnership, rather than just their funding. By researching their identity and culture, it demonstrates that they are not being dealt with in a standardised way.  You can be sure that the best sponsors are looking to see that the nature of the event, matches their strategic business objectives.

Tips and Timesavers.

Much time is spent agreeing on the tangible benefits that can be offered to a sponsor in terms of content and value. We list a sample of them below, but the real challenge is to match what you have, with a sponsor that can use them.

  • Naming rights: Can be in the title; a physical section of the event (including online) or even for an agreed length of time.
  • Image rights: If not part of the naming rights it could be the placing of logos, trademarks, signage, clothing, route signage etc.
  • Merchandising: The sponsor can make its products/services available to the event fan base through sampling, demonstration or display.
  • Print and promotions: All print items to support the event should carry the sponsor’s mark and any promotional activity, online or offline should also promote the sponsor.
  • Staff benefits: Staff of the sponsor may receive special offers such as tickets, membership, celebrity introductions etc.
  • Hospitality: Tickets, reservations, green room VIPs, special seating, priority services, exclusive transport, accommodation, celebrity introductions etc.

The potential list of tangible benefits is almost endless, depending on what the sponsor wants/needs. The trick is to be efficient and relevant. Be efficient by offering only those benefits that a sponsor might want and be relevant by matching the benefits with their target audience.


Looking for a sponsorship has become almost mainstream for many event owners/ organisers. My personal peeve is when I hear some event committee member saying “we need a sponsor to support our event.” These are probably the same people that send out standardised requests to 100 companies and are surprised when nobody replies.

If you want to fundraise for your event, by all means, go ahead and ask for support. If you want a sponsorship partner you’d better be able to deliver on their business objectives.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, here is what we believe a sponsor seeker should do;  understand exactly what your event is and who it will benefit; define a list of benefits that you can offer a sponsor; try to differentiate and offer exclusivity; make your proposal about their business (not your event), and agree a joint plan of activity.

Above all – listen, learn and be professional because these are the things that show you care about a sponsoring partner. Believe us when we say a sponsor knows a good partner when they see one.

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like to be notified by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here.

Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we can grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K


Sponsorship Engagement won’t be effective if left to chance.

questioning sponsorship engagement

Sponsorship tips for all parties – even the guerillas.

In today’s high-speed world, is your sponsorship activity engaging enough to cut through the noise? Like all elements of a successful marketing campaign, sponsorship engagement needs to be authentic. When people are aware of your involvement – authenticity ensures a better chance that they will believe in you. And they might even care that you are a sponsor.

Honesty, passion and uniqueness may well be marketing ‘buzzwords’ nowadays but even so, they must form the basis of your sponsorship engagement. As a consequence, if they are not elements of your sponsorship portfolio, people will not change their attitude or ultimately, their behaviour. This defeats the marketing purpose in the first place.

A big step towards making sponsorship engagement genuine is if it is made accessible and inclusive. – O’C&K

In my day, a question I always asked the AIB Bank sponsorship team, when we were evaluating a particular involvement was, “if we weren’t involved, would it make any difference”? Our advice now? – do the research and if your target audience doesn’t mind if you sponsor something or not – pull out. By the way, I’ve long been a supporter of the word ‘partnership’ rather than ‘sponsorship’ – but that argument is probably for another day.

Aidan and myself were talking at a student forum earlier today (BICS Forum), discussing the difference between sponsorship and fundraising. The main points we made about sponsorship is that a) it is a joint marketing activity and b) it is a partnership (see slide below), where the partner, the rights holder and the audience become completely interdependent over a sustained period of time.

engaging sponsorship model

Our mantra, in this regard, is that it is always more than ‘just about the money’.- O’C&K

Unfortunately, to this day, sponsors use events just to raise their profile and are disappointed when research shows apathy towards their brand, amongst the targeted public. Brands must demonstrate the ‘why’ of their involvement and ‘how’ it is relevant to people. Otherwise, it is an engagement opportunity lost and at worst, a waste of time and money.

Logo exposure is NOT sponsorship.

As already alluded to, in its simplest form – sponsorship has two objectives: changing people’s attitude (or perception) and thereafter, people’s behaviour. Smart sponsors know that placing a logo on a shirt or pitch-side hoarding does not contribute to either of these objectives.

The word ‘leverage’ is used to describe what a brand does to make a sponsorship work towards achieving its business objectives. Good leveraging focuses on aligning and connecting the brand with the target market and most of all – it adds value to people’s experience. It is easier for brands not to leverage their sponsorships because it costs less and it appears very measurable (eyeballs, opportunities-to-see etc.), and that’s where the ‘numbers’ people win (and the brand loses).

When a sponsorship is creative (online and offline) and strategic (based on business objectives) it becomes the most flexible, and in our opinion, unparalleled marketing medium there is.

Here is a list of questions that a sponsor should ask before deciding to engage:

  • Is the target market relevant to my business objectives and will we have we direct access?
  • Could we get similar exposure without this partnership or what unique exposure will we get?
  • Is there a natural ‘fit’ for us and will the audience care, if we sponsor it or not?
  • Are competitors involved and if not – why wouldn’t we do it?

The sponsorship game is changing.

As we meet with more and more clients, who are planning events, we are stressing that they must create a seamless, multi-channel experience around their event, that is measurable.

Event owners are struggling a little bit with the advent of technology. The rights-holders (and their agencies) are required to develop integrated communication campaigns that facilitate ‘sharing’ online. Fans / supporters / viewers are demanding more ‘ownership’ through interactivity of their team.

Rights owners must facilitate this change and relinquish the old model of considering the fan base to be a ‘wallet’. They must treat them more as brand partners (e.g. Leinster Rugby). For sponsors, this is a very welcome development. Now they can integrate their own involvement within the narrative and, as mentioned above, drive interdependency and eventual brand affinity.

In fact, the involvement is even more measurable as website visits, Instagram uploads or app usage for instance, can be measured in detail. The provision of content has also become a welcome ‘value exchange’ element of a partnership.

How about guerilla marketing and sponsorship?

Guerilla marketing is a form of marketing and not one that should be ignored. The difference is that it uses unconventional advertising methods to differentiate a brand amongst others. Many ‘signed-up’ sponsors see it as a cheap way to cash-in on an event etc. In our eyes, an existing sponsor should be on top of their game anyway and thereby make the ‘pretenders’ look like an add-on.

This type of marketing can be as simple as car stickers or promotional gifts being handed out but, just like all forms of marketing – it needs to be fresh and memorable. Let’s face it, any advertising needs to be seen to be effective. So what guerrilla marketing focuses on is, it been seen in a different way especially by being public and in the right place to surprise and to build hype. The one caveat is that it must not annoy.

It should also be remembered that this form of marketing activity still only serves to raise awareness. A brand needs to follow it up by providing people with an added value experience. This is where the ‘signed-up’ sponsors should be able to win the battle for hearts and minds. Through the sponsorship, they have a captive audience –  if they leverage it correctly.

Tips and Timesavers.

The most important thing about sponsorship is that all parties involved; the brand, the partner and the audience, must gain value from the activity.

Rights holders:

  • Don’t mix up the financial shortfall of the event with the potential value of the sponsorship
  • Customise your sponsorship introduction letter and proposal
  • Look for a long term investment and not ‘go-away’ money
  • At the first meeting – stop selling and listen to what the sponsor is looking for
  • Provide the sponsor with ‘leverage’ ideas, based on your experience of the event
  • Do not assume that you know what the sponsor’s business objectives are
  • Remember – sponsors don’t care about you – they care about your audience


  • All sponsorship decisions should be based on business objectives
  • Ensure that all internal disciplines have access to the sponsorship
  • Agree a budget for leverage (1:1 is good), or you should not get involved
  • Be creative and strategic and measure your leverage activity
  • Agree with the rights owner what success will look like for all parties
  • Ensure that the sponsorship ‘fits’ your overall marketing strategy
  • Check that the timing is dovetailing rather than overlapping other sponsorship activity


From both the rights holder and the sponsor’s point of view, the most important element of any partnership is the audience. It is only when the sponsor and the sponsee collaborate on leveraging, for the benefit of the audience, will the ‘deal’ be sustainable.

People often ask us should in-kind sponsors be treated in the same way as cash sponsors and our answer is always – yes! But whatever type of sponsor you are or have, keep engaging with all parties as inertia will kill any relationship dead.

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like to be notified by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here.

Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we can grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K