In order to bring in extra funding, many clubs turn to sponsorship. They open themselves up to the idea of having a sponsor and then proactively search for one – but when it comes to the crunch, how many actually have a strategy to maximise revenue and keep their sponsors happy?
It isn’t as easy as being handed some money to stick a brand logo on a clubhouse or building – there are always options that have to be considered before you take a leap of faith and put pen to paper on a legal agreement binding sponsor and rights holder.
Taking time to plan now will save time in the long run – know what a company who sponsors you stands to gain from the partnership. Do some research, have a look at what audiences you can reach, and market yourself to the appropriate sponsor.
Your goals and objectives
Make sure that you lay down goals so that your club can sit down at the end of the year/season/event and measure what success has been gained by having a sponsor. There is little point in putting all the work in to get a sponsor, if when the year/season/event ends you do not know whether they've had a positive impact or not.
Have a funding goal as well – creating short-term and long-term funding targets will help you to keep your eyes on the prize in relation to income. It also means you will be less likely to be blindsided by a lucrative yet short-term deal if it leaves you short of cash in the future.
You also need to make sure that they are specific, measurable, and achievable. Do not get excited and aim too high in terms of income, keep your goals down to a level that you can expect to hit. Long-term thinking can also come into the equation here, as a good plan will allow for year on year growth that short-term vision might not be able to achieve.
But just as you want to keep a sponsorship pitch precise, you need to keep your goals specific – otherwise you can get lost in a mire of ambiguity and misdirection.
Before sending off a thousand requests asking for sponsors, do some research. Have a look online for businesses that have a track record of sponsoring people in your field – the field it operates in and its turnover. You do not want to target someone who cannot afford to sponsor.
Look to see if the people that the business’s target audience are would be interested in what you or your club has to offer. You must match the brand to the audience. For example, there is no point approaching a company that makes high-end products if the audience will see their involvement but cannot afford to buy their products. This would offer little potential for return on investment, and as such your proposal probably will not see the light of day.
Doing some research on your fans or people in your organisation is a good idea as well – pass around a quick questionnaire, find out what they like and what sort of brands they are receptive to, and use that information to target sponsors. A company will be a lot more likely to jump on-board if they sense an opportunity to make money out of the deal.
Where you talk to potential sponsors can also make a difference; should you meet them face-to-face, start things off with an email, or maybe even a cold call? Again, research comes into play here as well, as you want to get off on the right foot.
Once you have got in the door, keep a record of all the companies that you have spoken to – even if you did not manage to reach a formal agreement. This will allow you to collect your thoughts, approach companies like the ones you already have on-board, and it will also mean that you don’t ask the same company twice.
You can input your data into SNAP to have online and at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. Storing information online on SNAP is a great energy saver. Your data can be accessed by anyone online (provided you or your club have set them up with a secure account), which saves you having to remember to put it on a memory stick – or having to lug a laptop around with you if you want to show others what data and research has been carried out. The SNAP portal is an excellent admin tool and can help you save a lot of time.
Make sure that your promotion and marketing is in line with all the research that has been carried out and the information that has been found. There is no point putting the hours in if you disregard what you found out.
Sponsorship opportunities are the meat and drink of what you offer once you have done your research, found a suitable sponsor, and gone through the process of getting them on-board.
There are several ways to build sponsorship opportunities, including: sponsorship levels, sponsorship brands, and creating an individual opportunity to suit one sponsor.
There are pros and cons for all three systems – sponsorship levels cover a lot of bases but are impersonal to the sponsor and could result in you not maximising revenue from them. Sponsorship bands are better but suffer from a similar problem to levels – while an individual opportunity may be too time consuming for an amateur club or part-time organisation to put together.
But anyone building any opportunity needs to start by taking a look at what assets they have. Is there a lot of space to put branding? Maybe a company can sponsor an event or match? Does what you have to offer and what the sponsor wants fit well together? These are all questions that need to be asked.
Asking someone else for help on how to put together a package can help you grow your organisation even more quickly. A service like SNAP sponsorship can help you to match sponsors to your goals. You can put your assets into the SNAP framework and use the tools that they provide to help you minimise your workload.
Getting a sponsor is not enough – you still need to do some legwork to make sure that you build off the back of landing some extra money. Social media and a website come into the equation here, as they are excellent in spreading the word about your club or organisation, for free.
Developing an online presence can help to attract and keep sponsors, and just having a professional looking website can do wonders for the image of the sports club – attracting new sponsors, players and possibly even a bigger crowd to games as well. A website will also be one of the first things that a prospective sponsor will look at – so a good one is vital if you want to market your club in the correct manner.
Don’t think that just having a website is good enough. Social media needs to be explored – and if done well, can have just as much of a positive impact as a good website can.
Twitter is an excellent tool in order to let locals know what is going on. A lot of clubs have Twitter, but not a lot use it well. A good starting point would be to follow all the local journalists in the area as well as all your players, sponsors, supporters and even just people who live close by. With any luck, news stories that you tweet out will get picked up by a few people with influence in the community – who can then spread the word for you. Facebook is useful in the sense that it can create conversations around the club, and if you set up a page correctly, it could eventually become a good e-commerce tool.
Using Twitter and Facebook can also help you to build up a conversation around your club or organisation – it can help you to interact with members of the community and build up an invaluable rapport for the people who support you at grass-roots level.
Also make the most of any events that you have running – make sure to invite sponsors and potential sponsors to those events and show them what sort of set-up they could get involved in. There is nothing wrong with giving sponsors some good treatment by throwing in a freebie as a thank you. It creates a good feeling between parties and shows that you don’t just view them as a cash cow.
The proposal is the main element that is going to decide if you land a sponsor or not – and things to put in it include anything that’s of particular interest to a certain sponsor, and outline anything that will be of a specific benefit to them.
You should also make sure that each proposal is tailored personally to each business. They are the ones who are going to be putting some money into your organisation, so taking the time to draft a unique proposal is the least you could do.
Why not throw in a promotional video? It is a great way to really show sponsors what they will be getting if they join forces with you, especially if they haven’t had the time to have a proper look behind the scenes yet.
Do you have a plan in place to maintain communication with any current sponsors? If not, then you should. There’s no point spending all year chasing new sponsors if you’re neglecting the ones you already have – rather, when they have signed on the dotted line, do all you can to keep them coming back year after year. This builds a good relationship, which is likely to benefit both parties.
One ingredient in this could be offering special treatment in some way – whether it is cheaper drinks at an event or free entry to something that you’re hosting. Small gestures can go a long way to building and cementing a good relationship between parties and should not be overlooked.
One method to not only keep, but to increase the level of sponsorship that an individual sponsor gives, is to upsell – offer them alternative, larger deals to keep them at the organisation.
Having a measure of how well you have achieved your initial goals is vital. You do not want to have done all the hard work in getting someone on-board without knowing if you have achieved what you set out at the beginning of the process.
Comparing results over a certain period of time can be useful as well; in that it can provide you with a document that highlights what went right and what went wrong over different periods. Having records can also help you to see what sort of business you have been successful in targeting – which could lead to more precise pitches in the future, resulting in more sponsorship coming through.
Again, SNAP can help with something like this – and is able to take a lot of the manual legwork out of comparing notes from two separate sponsorship campaigns. By using the portal, you will be able to view stats on deals, keep track of renewal dates and trace trends in sponsorship.
Having a better understanding of what your goals are and how to achieve them will improve over time – especially if you keep records that measure success and failure.
Every sponsorship opportunity will be different, so it’s important that you modify each one to maximise the potential synergy between you and a sponsoring company – they don’t want a generic offering, as it’s all about creating a return on investment for them. By that same token, each plan will be different, so the goals and objectives that go along with them will also change.
It is important that your organisation is always changing and adapting – make sure that you move along with it.