Editor's note: This is the first article in a 10-part article series on SPONSORSHIP DEVELOPMENT, contributed by Sylvia Allen, President of Allen
Consulting, Inc., Holmdel, NJ.
If you are involved in sponsorship sales, you often feel like you are
looking for a needle in a haystack. Many times you don't have a
contact name nor do you know what department has responsibility
for sponsorship, so you start cold calling. Don't despair. You can
find sponsorship dollars if you are persistent and consistent.
Sponsorship dollars can be found in a variety of departments
within a company and under a range of corporate titles. Of course,
when you initially contact a company, the first person you will ask
to speak to is the person in charge of sponsorship for that
And, if they have a sponsorship department (and more companies
are adding them daily), you are quickly and easily connected to
the right department. Now, do you talk to the Director, Vice
President, or Manager of that department? It depends upon the
corporate culture and how responsibilities are assigned to different
PREPARE FOR YOUR CALL
Hopefully, before calling, you will have done your homework and
determined the culture and know the appropriate person to talk to.
Other calls you make won't be that easy. Sometimes sponsorship
dollars reside in the marketing budget; other times in public relations.
With consumer goods, you will often find sponsorship money in
brand or product management; other companies may have funds
available through human relations or sales. In today's world of
highly automated telephone systems, you may have to make
several calls to any specific organization before you are able to
find the appropriate person.
To make your initial calling easier, read the trade publications
addressed to event marketers. You should really keep back
issues of these publications and use them as resource material
when researching who is spending sponsorship dollars on what.
Of course, with the Internet, data retrieval has become much easier.
At least you now have a name for your initial contact and, even if
they are no longer involved, they can refer you to the proper contact
USE MULTI-DEPARTMENTAL APPROACH
Also keep in mind that more than one person can be involved in
sponsorships and that more than one department participates in
sponsorship. If you have approached the marketing department and,
in spite of the quality of your presentation and appropriateness of the
event, they have still turned you down, that doesn't mean you can't
go back to that very same company. Just select another department.
If the match of sponsor and event is right, you may be successful
going through other channels.
If you are a nonprofit organization or have a cause-related affiliation
with your event, you can go to the grant administration or charitable
contributions department. Keep in mind that these decisions are
always made a year in advance, so don't expect short-term moneys
from these departments.
Also, considering that major corporations are bombarded with
requests for funding, sponsorship and otherwise, you may not get
the sponsorship dollars you want. However, some money is better
In addition to reading the trade publications to find out who is
spending what and where, use your professional trade association
affiliations as a resource too.
NETWORKING ORGANIZATIONS FOR YOU
Organizations that could help you in your networking to determine
which companies are doing sponsorship are local advertising clubs,
International Special Events Society (ISES) chapters, Public
Relations Society of America (PRSA), and Product Marketing
Association of America (PMAA), to name just a few.
Attend the meetings, take advantage of networking opportunities
and you will be surprised at how much information you can get.
There are also directories that list the various people involved in
sponsorship including IEG Directory of Sponsorship Marketing,
Franklin Covey's Sports Marketplace, Alan Friedman's Team
Marketing Sourcebook, ADWEEK'S Agency Directory and
Consumer Products Directory, the advertising agency's Bible
-- The Red Book, and EPM's Licensing Business Sourcebook.
(Note: The Licensing Business Sourcebook contains the names
of people who are responsible for the licensing activities at
particular companies and properties. In many instances they
are also involved in sponsorship).
These publications average $200-300 each, but are well worth
the investment compared against five-, six-and seven-figure
REGIONAL vs. NATIONAL APPROACH
In many instances, the size and type of event determines where
you might find sponsorship dollars. For example, if you have a
local event that only impacts your local area, you can go to the
local distributors or field offices. Often they have discretionary
dollars that can be allocated to local sponsorships. So, too,
with regional events.
Within the last couple of years, Miller Brewing has gone to
regional offices where each office can make sponsorship decisions
themselves for events within their region. Of course, if your event
is national or international, you will still have to go through
corporate headquarters for your solicitation.
Whatever channels you go through -- local, regional, national --
start your sponsorship sales process early. Budgets are planned
annually; the more lead time you have, the better chance you
have of getting your event considered for sponsorship.
Don't wait until three months or, worse, three weeks, before the
event to start soliciting sponsors. Remember, the greater the
lead time, the greater the success rate.
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She has published several books and is the author of HOW
TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT SPONSORSHIP SALES, publishes
The Sponsorship Newsletter, has just finished a 60 minute video on
sponsorship, and lectures all over the country on sponsorship (IFEA, National Main
Street, etc.) as well as teaching at New York University.
She has sold everything from $25 to $4,000,000 sponsorships;
she can be reached at 732-946-2711
or at firstname.lastname@example.org