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Factors Affecting Sponsorship Decisions

by Sylvia Allen

Editor's note: This is the fourth article in a 10-part article series on SPONSORSHIP DEVELOPMENT, contributed by Sylvia Allen, President of Allen Consulting, Inc., Holmdel, NJ.

First and foremost, sponsorship participation is a business decision. Yes, the CEO still exerts influence on sponsorship involvement but no longer is it done emotionally but, rather, on a business basis with measurable objectives.

Second, sponsorship decisions are not made on the spur of the moment nor are they made based upon someone sending a proposal to a prospective sponsor and having that person, just based on the proposal, making a decision to go to a sponsor. In sponsorship solicitation and sales it is very much like a courtship where each party wants to get to know the other better before joining together.

Depending upon dollar amounts involved, sponsorship decisions can take years. For those of us involved in the sales process one of the best traits one can have is tenacity! Basically, the sponsorship decision process involves a number of people at different levels with each assuming responsibility for one particular segment of the process, depending upon objectives for involvement and dollars involved. For example, it is entirely possible for the Director of Marketing, Sales Manager, Merchandising Manager, Public Relations Director and Human Relations Manager to all have some involvement in making a sponsorship decision. Each would want to study the sponsorship proposal to determine what elements, if any, impact their particular department's goals.

When selling sponsorships, keep in mind that the prime objective of the proposal is to whet the sponsor's appetite. Hopefully, you will have made initial contact with the potential sponsor to discuss his/her needs to ensure that your proposal is well-suited to these needs. Then, you will have sent a brief summation of the proposal, highlighting those issues previously discussed and emphasizing how the various marketing/sales/promotional opportunities dovetail with their current strategies in these areas. Last, you would try to get an appointment with the sponsor to discuss, in detail, how your program works and what sponsorship opportunities there are.

What should be in your package? It should contain the following:

  1. Media exposure (dollar value/ratings/readership, etc.);
  2. Marketing/merchandising/sales opportunities;
  3. Hospitality rights including tickets, VIP parking, etc.;
  4. Product exclusivity issue;
  5. Signage, on-site exposure (audio billboards, banners, etc.).;
  6. Listing of other participating sponsors;
  7. Brief history of the event/sport/venue/facility;
  8. Testimonial letters from previous sponsors.

All of that information should be typed, double spaced, and not be more than eight pages. Remember that the person receiving your proposal gets hundreds, if not thousands, of these proposals annually. The time spent on each one will be minimal and your proposal must stand out if it is to be noticed. If it is brief, and well-written, with the sponsor's objectives in mind, you will quickly get to the next step ... meeting and discussion.

Prior to that meeting learn all you can about your potential sponsors. What sponsorships have they done in the past? What are their corporate mission statements? If they are a public company, read their annual report. Do a data search at the library to discover how this organization approaches their market; what is their advertising strategy; who are their customers; what is their product line. In short, you want to be as knowledgeable as the person you will be meeting with so you can discuss how your sponsorship program is so well-suited to their organization.

Make sure you send a written summary after each meeting that outlines your discussion and reiterates how the sponsorship opportunity presented is appropriate. Be thorough in your follow-through and be consistent in your presentation of facts and figures. When you get a sponsorship commitment, write a contract that clearly, and carefully, outlines the terms of the contract and how each party benefits. This is your implementation road map and needs to be as accurate as possible. Then, deliver 110% and renewal will be hard to pass up!

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About the Author:

Sylvia Allen offers a wealth of public relations, event marketing, and sponsorship experience to her clients.

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

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