Tag Archives: value

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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A good relationship is more than a value exchange – people don’t care about your business.

Marketing Relationships

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

Is relevancy the currency in a relationship-based economy?

If you have something of value that people want, they will pay you for it. A simple exchange of value. The challenge is to keep them coming back for more.You have heard of terms like, strategic marketing, content marketing, social marketing, integrated marketing, contextual marketing and so on. Can you guess what all these ‘types’ of marketing have in common? Yep, they are all intended to build a customer relationship and thereby make more money for your business.

I ascribe to the notion that in addition to delivering value, if you do so through a positive experience for people, it will build a stronger relationship. Many businesses struggle with that concept, for some reason. Maybe it’s because they get caught up in quantifying costs, which is understandable I guess, in the current unstable economic environment.

As a result, marketers are asked to focus on sales, conversions, acquisitions etc. and, in my opinion, ignore the experiential  element of the value exchange. Invariably, they get distracted by measuring shallow digital relationships such as page likes, followers, G+s etc.

Let’s look at my own simple explanation of marketing. It is communication activity used to connect people with a brand, in the hope that they will buy something. I know this is a simplistic viewpoint because it doesn’t take account of people buying at different times and for different reasons. Still, we cannot get away from the fact that marketing exists to create a connection. That connection may well be a first one, or with an existing customer but without it, there can never be a relationship.

Online relationships.

There’s nothing new here folks. We create and cultivate relationships every single day. We meet a receptionist, the cashier at the supermarket, we laugh with our family, talk with our work colleagues, we tweet, we post updates etc. Of course, they are at different levels of intensity, but they are ‘connections’ none the less.

The thing is that people need value exchanges in different ways i.e. different relationships. When we talk about online relationships, it is obvious that some of them just need information and others want to (or have to) engage with you. Here are a few examples of digital relationships:


  • Annoying – people who get you to follow them and then ‘spam’ you with their posts.
  • Contactless – people who like to use the information / knowledge you provide online, but don’t want to have a conversation.
  • Recognition – people who don’t want a one-to-one relationship but will ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you online.
  • Empowering – people who want to be the leading voice in a conversation you are having.
  • Involved – people who want to build a relationship with you because of the value you provide.


It is the last one above, the involved relationship that is the one businesses will want. Marketers should use various technology platforms to filter the types of relationship they are looking for. At the end of the day, however, you cannot beat the traditional one-to-one communication with the right person at the right time to close the deal. So if you do create a connection online, try to arrange a meeting offline to follow up on the opportunity.

Smarter relationships.

So, if marketing is all about relationships, online or offline, why do many marketers still persist with big generic marketing campaigns?  Even large corporates such as Coca-Cola are attempting to change. Instead of teaching the world to sing they are now personalising their bottles with people’s names. To be fair, customised communication is nigh on impossible to quantify so I can see the marketer’s dilemma. The argument with the CFO will be the difference between short-term and long-term results.

It is a long term play to create a pleasant brand experience that will generate positive attitudes and eventually, more paying customers. One thing is certain though, the businesses that are conscious of this changing paradigm and who adapt, will survive into the future.

Investing in technology is another argument to be had with the CFO. Technology has a large part to play in shaping a customer’s experience. Social media, mobile, big data and augmented reality will allow businesses to enhance customer experience. Needless to say some industries will be more affected than others, but all businesses will have to embrace the new reality. For instance, we already know that mobile is at the heart of how customers are interacting with your brand.

It is almost a cliché now to say that we live in a rapidly changing business environment. Being smart in this environment doesn’t mean having college degrees. In my opinion, it means being a good communicator and networker. Being smarter in these areas also means making your business more flexible and adaptable. Internal relationships are as important as external ones, if a business is to embrace smarter marketing.

In fact, having a strategy and multiple plans these days may well act as a straightjacket on your business. This is because it’s not about coming up with the right answer anymore – it’s about coming up with the right question. The right question is ‘what matters to my customer’? Thereafter businesses should be focused on providing a contextual experience that matches the customer’s expectations.

A downside of businesses adapting to the new ‘context’ of building relationships is that there is a rush to publish stuff, just to be seen to be doing it. Sometimes the need to get content ‘out there’ supersedes the quality that is required to be effective.

The worst scenario is that marketing ‘gurus’ become sales people and the relationship building element is lost. Marketing will always be about compelling content, relevant media, top class production, engaging sales follow up and the creation of outstanding retail experiences.

My point? Be smarter about your marketing.

Marketing isn’t complicated.

Despite the new marketing tools out there, the original marketing principle remains in place. Know your audience and hone your message. Technology is your friend as long as you prioritise the most important aspects for your customer and your business. As mentioned above, a business must be agile nowadays, so don’t over-plan. Keep it simple.

If marketing is about connecting with people, it has been said that there are only three ways you can communicate your marketing message: write to them, talk to them or create a visual (video, picture or graphic). Writing would involve blogs, articles, press releases etc. Talking would include podcasts, seminars or networking events. Once you have decided which method you’re more comfortable with, you then go about choosing your platform.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here are examples of marketing platforms that you may or may not use. The platform should be focused on where the people you want to engage with are, but it’s also important that you don’t spread yourself too wide. Concentrate on a few channels and become proficient in them.


  • Social Media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+), Blogging, Email Marketing, guest blogging,
  • Radio, Advertising, PR, Leaflets, Run competitions, Enter Awards, Testimonials, Branded vehicles.
  • Cold calling, Networking, Join local associations, Exhibitions, Joint ventures, Business referrals.
  • Set up a website, video marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Localised offers.


There are many other platforms but before I finish, I would like to return to the notion of your online platform. People are going to find you, actively through online search, passively while browsing or through a digital community. If you are not visible to them through any of these online options, you will lose out to competitors that are.

You might well think that you haven’t the time or the budget to undertake smarter marketing. There is a solution to this. You always have the option of employing an external resource (us for instance) to augment your capabilities on an as-needed basis. Partnership with an external resource will allow you to focus on the fundamentals of building a great business in the knowledge that you are being smart about your marketing.

To summarise, here are some of my tips on marketing:


  • Although marketing channels can change– principles don’t.
  • Every business needs a marketing plan – including a plan to listen.
  • Marketing is about selling – good marketing cannot sell a bad product.
  • Your brand identity won’t last forever – make people feel for your brand.
  • A relationship is about being relevant – customers don’t care about your business.


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