“How Long Should My Sponsorship Proposal Be?”

I am asked this everywhere I go – it seems to be the thing that most people think is holding them back from securing that perfect partner.  As much as I’d love to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, unfortunately (much like most of sponsorship) this is not the case and the answers vary with each sponsorship platform.  The golden rule is to keep it as short as possible, but still retaining all the information a prospect absolutely needs to know.  As most people are not quite sure what information a prospect absolutely needs to know, I’ve created some tips to help you when creating your sponsorship proposal:

  1. Keep it short, sweet and concise. Sponsorship proposals are not the latest Grazia or best Faulkner – put simply they aren’t interesting and regardless who you send it to in whatever format, people are not desperate to read them.  Sponsorship proposals are just not exciting regardless of how exciting your actual property or opportunity is.  Rather than accepting this, people overcompensate the boredom by writing excessive copy hoping to draw people in.  This is simply not the case – mostly because you aren’t a copywriter and even the best copywriters in the world are unlikely to make your sponsorship proposal a page turner from copy alone.  Therefore, don’t try and make your proposal exciting just by writing more about it.  In our digital age, if you can catch their attention and imagination – they will Google you.
  2. Following on from above – make sure whatever they Google is good.
  3. A picture says a thousand words. If you have great imagery – use it in the best format possible which is typically in a landscape format.  Saying this, don’t fill the entire proposal with a load of the same pictures – if they want to look at pictures of an event or people at an event, they will go on Facebook.
  4. Put a price on it. Don’t waste people’s time.  If you are going to go to the effort of sending a sponsorship proposal, make sure everything that the buyer needs is in there and this includes how much you expect from them in return.
  5. Be professional. I estimate that over 95% of all sponsorship proposals in the world are done by the person looking for the investment.  You are often the Founder, Marketing Director, Event Manager or Sponsorship person.  It’s not your fault you are not a graphic designer, you have other important skills.  But it is important to recognise you are not a graphic designer.  People like things that look good.  You wouldn’t try out the new restaurant in town if they handed you a hand-drawn flyer made out of copy paper and crayons so how can you expect someone to part with budget when you won’t even invest on your own sales collateral?

In terms of a litmus test, I recommend taking your sponsorship proposal to a brutally honest friend and asking their opinion.  They don’t need to work in marketing to have an opinion – they just need to not worry about hurting your feelings.  Listen to them.  They will definitely help.

Failing getting a friend’s sign off, get some actual professional help.  Speak to a sponsorship agency for feedback and/or hire them to put together a proposal for you.  Slingshot obviously does this, but there are also many other agencies who can help too.  It is such a shame to see people fail at securing sponsors for their event because of a bad proposal, but not a bad property so don’t go it alone!

If you are interested in having Slingshot review or create your sponsorship proposal drop us an email: proposalreview@slingshotsponsorship.com

Slingshot’s MD Jackie Fast named as one of UK’s Hottest Entrepreneurs Aged 35 or Under

Growing Business today names its 12th annual list of the entrepreneurs aged 35 or under behind 30 of the UK’s brightest companies.

Jackie Fast, MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, has been named one of the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs aged 35 or under, revealed today in Growing Business’ Young Guns ‘Class of 2014′.

Recognised at an awards luncheon held at the prestigious Kensington Roof Gardens, this year’s crop is made up of 54 entrepreneurs behind 30 of the country’s fastest-growing firms.  The Class of 2014 join an alumni already containing the founders of 330 businesses named since the Young Guns awards began in 2003.  Sponsored by law firm Keystone Law and chartered accountants haysmacintyre, Young Guns celebrates the most outstanding crop of young entrepreneurs the country has to offer with only 30 companies selected each year, and no repeat appearances.

Commenting on the win, Jackie Fast said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised amongst this incredibly influential and successful group of people shaping the future of business in the UK.  As our agency is driven to enable and secure the future of other businesses commercially through securing partners, this award is particularly relevant to us.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Slingshot Sponsorship as well as the other Young Guns!”

Now in its 12th year, the awards has a track record of talent spotting, previously recognising the fledgling businesses started by the likes of Michael Action Smith OBE of Mind Candy, Holly Tucker MBE of Notonthehighstreet.com, Neil Hutchinson of Forward Internet Group, Matthew Riley of Daisy Group Plc, and the co-founders of Innocent Drinks, Huddle, YPlan, Nails Inc., Chilango, and Made.com.

 

View the full list of 2014 Young Guns and their profiles here:www.growingbusiness.co.uk/young-guns

In numbers: Who are the Young Guns Class of 2014?

  • There are 54 qualifying co-founders
  • The 30 businesses are 4 years old on average
  • The mean age between the qualifying founders is 29, with the youngest just 18
  • On average their companies employ 36 people, with the highest employing 200
  • Between the 20 companies that are equity backed, the total they’ve raised stands at over £114m
  • That means those 20 companies have raised £5.7m on average – the highest being House Trip, which has raised $60m and Nutmeg with $50m.
  • It also means 10 companies in this Class have grown organically
  • Their average turnover (for the 26 who told us) is £4.1m and they’re forecasting to grow that to £7.2m this year
  • Of the 26 who told us, they still own 61% of their equity

How To Get Sponsors Working For Your Business

The sponsorship industry is changing.  The opportunities are endless and ways of engaging are ever increasing.  And yet, the sponsorship industry still remains fairly static.  Since inception, the typical transaction includes rights holders trading ‘space’ to sponsors for money.  Everyone seems pretty happy.  But is everyone getting the most out of the relationship?  With ROI crucial to good business, I’d question whether everyone is getting as much return for the investment that is being put into the sponsorships created.

But money talks and quite rightly, rights holders utilise sponsorship to drive revenue.  However, sponsorship can do so much more.  When done cleverly, sponsorship can open business avenues and new profit centres rights holders wouldn’t have been able to create by themselves.

But it needs a rights holder who is willing to look at the bigger picture with an ambition to think outside of the box commercially.

Rather than just chasing money for logo placement, rights holders need to identify what their ideal ambition is for incorporating sponsorship revenue within their commercial objectives.  For many B2B events, it’s about attracting leading consumer brand names to their event.  For music festivals, it’s about differentiation and adding value to the festival experience.  For sport, it’s getting fans to engage with the team beyond the pitch.  Sponsorship does all these things, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Many rights holders fail to realise that they have to consider their sponsorship ambitions in a series of steps.  Just like growing any business, in order to reach the end goal there are milestones of achievement – each one built upon success of the other.  A good sponsorship strategy should be developed in the same way – with the long view in mind including phases that drive to deliver objectives beyond the financial.

And even if money really is the only objective (although if you dig deep enough, this is rarely the case), you need to create phases which will allow you to continue building value in order to increase revenue year on year.

So how do you go about building a sponsorship strategy that does all this and more?

  1. Figure out if you have ambitions beyond money.  And if you do, find out if sponsorship can help you reach them.
  2. If you cannot offer a strong proposition to the sponsors you really want, carve out areas of rights that you can provide on a reduced rights fee or for free while still maintaining your core sponsors.  This allows you to negotiate with the right sponsors that can deliver on some of your long-term ambitions while still ensuring your financial targets can be met by the usual suspects.
  3. Talk with your current sponsors about your ambitions and find out how they can play a role in achieving them.
  4. Partner with sponsors whose long-term goals and objectives are aligned with your own.
  5. Stop thinking transactional.  Get creative.

Why Lifestyle Brands Are Getting It Right

Our unique take on sponsorship has enabled us to work with some fantastic lifestyle brands such as Red Stripe, Majestic Athletic, Supreme Being, Monster Energy, Spotify, and New Era who are truly maximising the consumer shift towards culture brands.  In terms of sponsorship, these brands are getting it right.  They truly understand their consumer, their market, and most importantly understand how utilising effective sponsorship platforms make their marketing budgets work harder – often because their budgets are a fraction of their rivalling high street retail competitors who are vying for the same audience.

But what makes them different and why should you care?

It all boils down to engagement.  Lifestyle brands tend to have more success in engaging their market better than many other retailers.  They also know where to engage them and how to engage them.  If engagement is what brands are after because engagement sells, then this surely is something to take notice of rather than being complacent on your own brand image – even if you do only sell shoe inserts.

So here is my take on why lifestyle brands are getting it right:

  1. Challenged to be creative – smaller budgets mean you have to really think about what you are doing with them.  When lifestyle brands sponsor something, they maximise every single opportunity and asset they purchase ensuring nothing is missed.
  2. Commercially creative teams – lifestyle brands tend to have teams where everyone does a bit of everything, rather than job roles split up.  This forces individuals to be both creative and commercial – enabling people to fully understand how marketing activity drives sales, which is crucial.
  3. They are their target market – not only do they know their audience, they themselves tend to be active and avid advocates of the brand.  This saves focus groups, countless surveys, and allows them to tap into consumer insight easily.

If you want to see what we’ve done with Majestic Athletic, click here for the case study.

Slingshot Sponsorship Announced as National Business Awards Finalist for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award

Slingshot Sponsorship Announced as National Business Awards Finalist for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award

Britain’s leading businesses, business leaders and social enterprises have today been revealed as finalists for the 2014 National Business Awards and Slingshot Sponsorship is amongst them.

Slingshot Sponsorship has been shortlisted for The BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year Award – recognising organisations that help businesses to increase profitability by improving efficiency, developing talent and implementing innovation.  This award recognises the impact of ‘enablers’ that offer value beyond services.

Commenting on the Slingshot Sponsorship award entry, Judge Simon Feary, CEO, Chartered Quality Institute said:

“Slingshot has positioned itself to address a niche market overlooked by the main providers. To do that profitably and sustainably, especially within the small business-low margin segment you really have to know your market. Small beginnings but the growth is there suggesting they have their model right.”

This year’s shortlisted businesses cover activities as diverse as retail, technology, men’s grooming products, telecoms, construction, advertising, entertainment, and publishing. Of the businesses shortlisted, 24% turnover under £5m, 26% turnover between £5m and £25m, 15% over a billion and 10% not for profit organisations. The smallest business recognised has a turnover of just £23k with the largest reaching £20 billion. Finalists collectively employ over 850,000 people, the smallest has just one member of staff while the largest employs around 165,000 people globally.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship commented:

“Having our business model recognised as a business enabler at the National Business Awards opens up a world of opportunity for our agency proposition beyond our typical market of sponsorship and marketing professionals.  As we champion the value of commercialisation in marketing, it is an honour to be recognised against some fierce competition in this category – especially from those organisations in the financial industry.”

Visit The National Business Awards for a full list of all finalists and to attend the event.

It’s Not Who You Know

Three questions you should be asking your sponsorship sales person before you hire them

I have been in far too many pitches where I dread the question and answer period at the end.  This is not because I don’t like answering questions, it’s because the questions are always the wrong ones.  It never fails that when people are looking to hire a sponsorship sales person (regardless of whether it’s an internal hire or contracted external agency) the questions they always ask are the same and include a variation of the following:

“How many brands do you know that you’ll be able to get to sponsor our platform?”

Sometimes the person in question is slyer and the question comes across as:

“In terms of relationships you currently have, how many of those do you think you would be able to approach on our behalf?”

It always comes down to the black book.

Now in theory this makes a lot of sense.  Obviously the more brands they know personally, the easier it will be for that sponsorship salesperson to put your platform in front of them.  However, this doesn’t address the whole point of sponsorship sales.  Sponsorship sales are not transactional – unlike selling socks or vacuum cleaners, you have to understand how to derive value from set assets to drive brand objectives.  Creative thinking is vital.  Sponsorship sales are specific and not all sponsorship platforms are the best fit for all brands.  As such, it becomes less about the relationship and more about how the platform can help the brand meet certain objectives.  Even though I have drinks with the Marketing Director from Pampers, but that doesn’t mean they are going to sponsor Tough Mudder just because I asked politely over cocktails.

In addition, any sponsorship sales person or sponsorship sales agency who has lasted longer than 1 year will inevitably have a good black book. And even if they don’t have a strong black book in your specific sector, they will know quite easily how to build one quickly.  That is after all, what they do and why there are at the pitch to begin with.

So rather than waste time on answers that really won’t make too much of a difference to your end result, here are the top 3 questions you should be asking:

  1. How long is your longest running client and why have they stayed with you for so long?
  2. Have you ever lost a client because of not meeting your sales targets?  *To note, there are many variables that can affect sponsorship sales so if someone hasn’t met targets I wouldn’t write them off.  Instead, try to understand whether they took on the project without being transparent to their client about their own concerns such as pricing that is overvalued or timing that is unrealistic.
  3. What do you think the key USP of our platform is and what type of brands do you think it would attract?

Happy hiring!

Slingshot Sponsorship signs Warranty Direct as Headline Sponsor of the What Car? Awards for a third consecutive year

For a third consecutive year What Car? has announced that Warranty Direct will again act as Headline Partner for the What Car? Awards –  Europe’s leading and most prestigious automotive awards programme showcasing the best new car releases from that year.

 

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards are the most coveted accolades in the automotive industry. The Awards are presented to cars that set the highest standards in their sector after being put through the toughest, most rigorous tests by the most experienced team in the business.

 

The benefits of the sponsorship deal includes the alignment with the most authoritative and trusted brand in motoring, brand positioning and awareness, extensive PR opportunities, networking  and brand association to the awards via a multi-channel promotional campaign.

 

Chris Lowe, What Car? ‘Publisher’ said: “We are delighted to be working with Warranty Direct for the third consecutive year, which is the industry’s leading provider of direct consumer warranties.”

 

Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director of Warranty Direct Ltd, said: “We are looking forward to working alongside What Car? as headline partner for another year of the awards.  The Awards themselves set a benchmark within the industry and it is an honour to be a part of such a prestigious event.  We also hope car buyers investing in these award winning cars will want to look after them and that Warranty Direct warranties will be their first port of call.”

 

Chris Lowe continued: “Winning a What Car? Award is good for a car maker’s business. The authority of the What Car? brand sells cars, plain and simple. It adds power to advertising and marketing campaigns and is a huge draw for customers.”

 

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards event is attended by more than 1,400 leading industry figureheads alongside the most influential motoring correspondents from the wider media.

 

The event is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on January 7, 2015 with top-class entertainment yet to be announced. Previous headline acts have included Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Al Murray, Jo Brand and last year Jack Whitehall.

I went to Glastonbury and all I got was this crappy T-shirt

As another Glastonbury passes, it makes me think of all of  the sponsorship activity that will be taking place over the next couple of months.  While much of it still remains the same (or the same but packaged up in a different box), I have noticed a shift into better commercialisation by the rights owner and more tailored sponsorship activation by brands compared to last year.

One area that is undeniably a huge commercial opportunity for festivals is merchandise and licensing.  This is a completely untapped market and one that is bountiful.  Although no ‘Hard Rock Cafe’, the festival ‘brand’ is growing through social engagement and digital interaction.  The offshoot benefit of a larger audience is the commercial potential through new revenue streams.

For such a global, well-respected and creatively-driven festival, I was surprised this wasn’t reflected in their merchandise choices  (found here).  Although, their approach is not dissimilar to many of the other UK festivals, highlighting that their resource allocations are based predominantly on core revenues of ticketing, pouring rights, and sponsorship.  It still is surprising that the pinnacle of the UK festival experience, Glastonbury, hasn’t taken the time to create truly memorable merchandise to combine with the memorable experiences of the festival.

Which leads me on to how smaller musical festivals can be a much better sponsorship platform to create brand experiences and conversations due to their drive of innovation and flexibility.  One of our clients Outlook Festival recently launched their Outlook X Majestic Athletic Varsity Jackets this year in collaboration with festival sponsor Majestic (check them out here).  Used for Outlook Festival competition giveaways, special VIPs, and of course for purchase – this limited edition jacket something you’d actually purchase – and something I’d much rather walk away with compared to the Glastonbury coffee mug.

Some of Slingshot Sponsorship’s key tips for creating merchandise partnerships with music festivals:

  1. Think of your audience and what they want to buy
  2. Create something completely unique
  3. Allow for creative input from all parties and, when appropriate, your festival go-ers
  4. Think big

Corporate Events – 5 Tips to Driving a New Experience

Whether for team building or client hospitality, corporate events can be a great day out or a truly horrible one – think back to the recent Vodafone anti-team building campaign.


Having organised corporate events for both clients as well as staff teams, here are my top 5 tips to ensure your next corporate event is remembered:

  1. Competition – competition can be a great way to really engage people in the activity chosen.  Furthermore, it provides the Finance Director the chance to shine by beating the Sales Manager in an environment that everyone is equal on (Just don’t kill each other!)
  2. Make sure it’s an even playing field – as above, choosing an activity that everyone can take part in is essential.  There’s no point in taking a large office team on a round of golf, as the range of abilities will inevitably be so varied.
  3. Interaction – time to speak to other people.  If you are constantly ‘doing’ then it can take away from what the day is supposed to achieve.
  4. Something different – far too often corporate events tend to take the shape of drinks.  Whilst this is always a great thing, sometimes it can be monotonous – especially if you are organising client hospitality.  In order to truly achieve ROI in putting on a corporate event, you need to be memorable.
  5. Convenience – location is always important to consider as you want to ensure that everyone can make it to the event without jeopardising their personal time.

One of our most recent clients Caterham Cars has put together a corporate event programme that ticks all the boxes above.  I recently took on the challenge and attended one of their public days – watch Slingshot Sponsorship’s YouTube Channel here to see my race against the clock.

If you are interested in discussing Caterham for your corporate event, please get in touch with us: 0207 226 5052.

Page 1 of 41234