Tag Archives: sponsee

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.

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Sponsorship can change a person’s perceptions of a brand.

sponsorship dilemma

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Smart, savvy businesses are looking for 3 things from an event sponsorship.

It is said that business success is equal to how good a product / service is, multiplied by how good the marketing is. So it follows that being smarter about your marketing will help your business to be more successful. Despite the perceived attention companies pay to marketing however, only a small percentage of them get sponsorship right.

Let’s face it, sponsorship is changing. Smart business owners and corporates now have expectations that as a marketing tool, it will engage customers in a real way. There is a definite focus on using sponsorship to backup online activity by making connections and increasing affinity. Most savvy operators will agree that businesses need to do more work on building an emotional relationship with their customers, to ensure sustainability.

In O’C&K we agree that one of the most successful ways of building true connections that last, is through sponsorship because we believe that it can change a person’s perception and ultimately their behaviour.

Of course, not all businesses that sponsor or organisations that get sponsored, instinctively know how best to use sponsorship as an effective marketing tool. What I want to do in this post therefore is to offer some tips for both sponsors and sponsees, on how to get ready for sponsorship.

The role that sponsorship can play in brand building/management cannot be overstated.

Does it matter?

Research shows that sponsorship can lead to higher levels of positive sentiment towards a brand, especially when relevant links with targeted people, are created. The more meaningful it is to people, the more it will be remembered and appreciated. From our experience working in the sponsorship arena, our simple advice to people is, “if it doesn’t matter to the person that your business wants to engage with, it doesn’t matter”.

We call this the litmus test of sponsorship because it is focused on a business objective.

Because of this focus it is essential, for any sponsorship, that the perceived ‘fit’ between what an event offers attendees and what a sponsor does for them, is obvious to the audience. Otherwise, people won’t know whom to appreciate or at worst, won’t care. Think about it, people will more than likely appreciate a brand’s ‘involvement’  in their life, if that brand improves their experience of something or offers some benefit, otherwise unattainable.

An organiser or sponsor can really focus on specific objectives by selecting a sponsorship to appeal to a specific audience, or a specific geographic area or to people who have similar attitudes. Thereafter, the smarter the promotion and the longer the sponsorship duration, the better the impact.

Tips and Timesavers.

Are you ready to be a sponsor?

A business can use sponsorship to deliver on various objectives, e.g.

  •    Creating an opportunity to engage with people
  •    Increasing brand loyalty
  •    Creating awareness and visibility for the brand or a product / service
  •    Repositioning or reinforcing a brand identity.
  •    Thwarting your competitors (this is a negative one).
  •    Telling a part of the brand story or reinforcing a theme.
  •    Merchandising opportunities for product sampling or service sign-ups.

If you are considering becoming a sponsor you can do your own research, or invite applications from event owners looking for sponsorship. I would recommend the former. If you can do it yourself, there are certain filters that you should consider as a first step.

There should be a meaningful brand + event connection, relevant to a target audience and based on your business objectives. Make sure that the owner / organiser is professional i.e. has experience and appreciates that it is a joint marketing exercise. Both you and your finance department should agree upfront on what ROI is expected, during what period it will be generated and how it will be measured.

When you embark on a partnership, your involvement must be authentic, personalised and involved. If you don’t have the expertise (or the time) in-house, hire professionals who can maximise your impact. See our business guide on our website, here, for seeking a sponsorship and, here, for elements to consider when planning an event.

The main thing to remember is that sponsorship is a marketing investment, so it should be serving a business strategy in the best way possible. When used properly, it can be one of the most flexible, engaging and simplest marketing tools for any organisation.

Are you ready to be sponsored?

In O’C&K, we have spoken to many clients and prospects about the golden rule of obtaining sponsorship for an event. The rule is to step into the shoes of the potential sponsor. Of course there are various types of sponsorship that exist, so tangible benefits will vary. However, if you want a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with a sponsor, you must understand what the sponsor’s needs and expectations are.

The first thing you must do is to identify what tangible and intangible assets you have to offer a sponsor. This is a critical part of getting ready for sponsorship because what you have, and what you think you have, can differ greatly. Let’s have a look at a few of the obvious ‘tangibles’ you may have.


  • Naming rights – e.g. title exclusivity, associated rights, supplier rights.
  • Brand exposure – e.g. promo campaign, signage, uniforms, online presence, stalls.
  • Business networking – e.g. fellow sponsors, political exposure, event owners / clients.
  • Merchandising – e.g. product sampling, demonstrations, trials, launches.
  • Brand story amplification – e.g. advertising support, CSR, activity theme.
  • Customer engagement – e.g. VIP areas, tickets, hospitality, discounts, registration.
  • Staff benefits – e.g. morale building, staff volunteering, family tickets.


The list of benefits is endless because of the intangibles, but the important point here is to work out what benefits are relevant to each potential sponsor. You cannot assume that you know what they want. You have to make an effort to find out. No, this is not an easy exercise, but it is the one thing that will get you noticed in the sea of proposals that a business will receive every week of the year.

When a business looks at a sponsorship proposal they want to see that you have spent some time on understanding their needs. They know you want money but in return they need to know that you care enough to have studied, investigated and gained an understanding of their business or marketplace?

Believe me; it is very noticeable which applicants have put in the effort. In fact, the first few paragraphs of a proposal are a giveaway. There is only one theme to concentrate on in your proposal, ‘How you can help them be smarter about their marketing or create value for their clients’. If this isn’t very obvious to you – don’t even bother writing an introduction letter. It will be binned, without reply. If you don’t put in the effort up-front, why should they be bothered to read your proposal?

One of the main faux-pas that sponsorship seekers make is that of timing. Very often they do not allow a sponsor sufficient lead time to:


  • Conduct research into the proposed area of sponsorship (if new).
  • Internalise the proposal to other areas that might benefit.
  • Rearrange the footprint of their existing sponsorship portfolio.
  • Plan synergies with other sponsorship activity.
  • Examine budgetary considerations.


It really is important that you look at a potential sponsorship relationship as a joint marketing venture. Having mismatched visions is not a good idea but ignorance / lack of professionalism is even worse. You both want one thing – an unforgettable experience for a group of people. So you should inspire and amaze the potential sponsor with an innovative proposal. The overall image of the event starts with the introduction letter, continues with the proposal structure, which then leads to you, hopefully, making a face-to-face pitch.

Respect your event and respect your sponsor.

‘You cannot measure sponsorship’.

If I had a cent for every time I’ve heard this, I’d be a millionaire by now. The fact is that if measureable objectives are agreed in the first place, of course they can be measured. The problem is that many sponsorship relationships are based on funds rather than mutual business objectives.

Here are some measurements that could form part of your overall evaluation of sponsorship activity:

Cost of audience reach. – Include all costs, rights fees and activation costs (including VAT if applicable). Reach includes attendees and exposure on media channels. You can have different objectives for client engagement and ‘opportunities to see’. You might have a ‘reach target’ for all your sponsorships and can thereby adjudicate their performances.

Activation Ratio. – There are no hard and fast rules here but I would recommend a 1:1 ratio. (activation ratio is how much you spend to promote the sponsorship). In my opinion there is absolutely no point in being a wonderful sponsor of a great event, if no one knows about either. The advent of social media tools etc. are helping to reduce this ratio while maintaining opportunities to magnify the marketing impact.

Sales. – It is extremely difficult to link sales to sponsorship activity, directly, unless you are selling product at an event, of course. You could track sales figures during the footprint of the sponsorship, but it is not an accurate measurement, if you are undertaking other marketing activity. What it might show is different sales activity during different sponsorship events within a portfolio. The trends could be used to weed out low performing sponsorships. It really depends on the objectives agreed rather than sales in my opinion.

Long term brand attributes. – If your company undertakes brand research – it is a useful exercise to include sponsorship as a standalone section. In this way you can determine what brand attributes a particular sponsorship supports and more importantly whether your target audience would care, if you discontinued sponsoring an activity.

Indirect benefits. – This is the one that drives the accountants mad because they cannot ignore the fact that there are elements of a sponsorship that are not measured in hard currency terms. A client’s positive experience at an event may well pay dividends at a later stage or through a word-of-mouth recommendation. Such elements as staff morale or training or brand storytelling are also difficult to measure but definitely form part of the return gained from sponsorship involvement.

I mentioned our ‘litmus test’ earlier in this post and explained that it is focused on a business objective – adding value to a customer relationship. To summarise, therefore, I will list the three things that smart, savvy businesses are looking for from an event sponsorship:

–          Making customer engagement easier.

–          Making their customer’s event experience better.

–          Providing them or their customers with a benefit, otherwise unattainable.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K