How to find a sponsor
Sponsorship can be hard to find and it is therefore important to be organized and professional in the way you go about it. The following tips may be helpful:
- Appoint a sponsorship co-ordinator
It is important – no matter what the size of your sporting organization – to have a co-ordinator who is responsible for seeking sponsorship and to whom all sponsorship communications are directed.
- Decide what you are seeking sponsorship for
This should be done through what is known as a sponsorship audit. There are two elements to this:The Sport Audit – identifying what your sports organisation has to offer a potential sponsor. This should include the number of events you hold, the number of participants and spectators, and any secondary audience you have through newspaper, television and radio reports of your events. It should detail the opportunities you can offer to display the sponsor’s logo, not just at an event but on promotional items, posters, programmes, letterheads or vehicles.The Sponsor Audit – identifying potential sponsors and what they are seeking to achieve through their marketing activities. Research in local or trade papers is an effective way of obtaining names of companies – for example, the Hollis Sponsorship and Donations Yearbook lists 1,000 sponsoring companies, their interest areas, budgets and contacts. There are also number of trade publications for sponsorship and a growing number of websites trying to match sponsors and companies. Then, carry out research to find out how accurately the marketing objectives of each company meet your sports organisation.
- Draw up a shortlist of companies
After you have an idea of which potential sponsors might be interested, draw up a shortlist. Research to find out how accurately the marketing objectives of each company meet your sports organisation. Consider the different attributes of the smaller and larger companies on the list and learn as much as you can about them: use annual reports, company newsletter, press cuttings or personal contacts to find out about their interests, management and employees.
- Write the sponsorship seeking letter
This should be sent to the right person within the company whom you wish to sponsor you. At this stage, the purpose of the letter is to attract the interest of the company, with a view to setting up a meeting with them, rather than to sell the sponsorship there and then.
- Follow-up each sponsorship seeking letter with a telephone call
You should follow the letter with a phone call to the company, usually after 3-4 working days. You should remind the potential sponsor of the letter, who it was from and what it was about and aim to secure a meeting with them.
- Write a sponsorship proposal
This may be necessary depending on the scale and scope of the project. It should be used as a supporting document for a presentation or a meeting. It should include the majority of information gathered in the sport and sponsor audits, along with details of the Sportsmatch scheme. It is worth using pictures (eg of your sport or your organization) to help the potential sponsor visualize what they may be getting involved with.Remember to include information about the history of your organization as this is important in establishing credibility. Good financial controls and report are also important. If you have been sponsored before, prepare case histories which show the activity and the results, as this will encourage confidence in your ability to deliver.
- Hold a meeting with a potential sponsor
If a potential sponsor agrees to a meeting, it is essential that this is handled in a professional way. The meeting should be carefully planned and you should go to it fully prepared, so that you can make clear the following:
- What your organization can offer the potential sponsor
- What benefits they will get from sponsoring your organisation
- How much sponsorship you require from them
- How long you would like them to sponsor you
- Work together
Once a sponsor has invested in your project, it is essential that it runs smoothly and delivers high quality experiences to participants and spectators. It is also essential to keep the sponsor involved and interested in the project: this will maintain their interest and demonstrate to them the value of their investment. The following tips may offer some guidance as to ways to achieve this:
- Work closely with your sponsor at all times. In particular, work hard on the personal elements, such as ensuring that the sponsor has sufficient tickets for themselves and guests and a chance to meet participants.
- Have a clear reporting procedure to the sponsor with regular updates on events and activities.
- Look for ways to increase the news-worthiness of the event by creating interesting photo-calls or background features. Try and attract a celebrity to the launch or the event to increase press interest. The press, and local radio in particular, will often run joint promotions or act as media partners to the event.
- Finally, remember that branding of an event and support materials is a key sponsor requirement. Sponsor logos must have prime position at any event and in all supporting material. If you have received a Sportsmatch award, remember, too, that Sportsmatch is often an equal partner in the sponsorship and requires its own branding.For the commercial success of a sponsorship the company’s product needs to be as close to the sponsorship as possible. Product displays, sampling opportunities, even a sales kiosk at the launch and event are important means for the sponsor to reach its target market. Sponsors and organisers should work together to devise longer lasting links such as discount vouchers for future purchases for those who attend the event.
For more information on sponsorship, finding a sponsor and making sponsorship a success click on our other sources of funding page.