Why a Good Account Manager Makes all the Difference in Sponsorship
3rd August, 2017
As much strategic insight you can throw at a project, as much creativity you can generate – the unique thing about sponsorship is that it truly does come down to the people. And more importantly the relationship between the people. Partnerships exist to actively create synergies between both parties – synergies that aim to create something greater than the sum of its parts. And that is what makes sponsorship special. But it also can make sponsorship very challenging if you don’t recognise this and put processes in place to ensure smooth execution.
Many rights holders tend to miss the boat on account management. Not that they don’t want to be great account managers, but mainly because they don’t have the resource to support a sponsorship – everyone focuses on the next deal. This lack of foresight tends to mean a high rate of churn and a harder year following. The argument to put resource into account management creates sustainability, and over time, profitability, but the right measures need to be in place so it doesn’t become an arduous task. I certainly am not saying that for every sponsorship deal you have you need to bring in a team to manage them, but some thought about how you are servicing your partners is crucial to end the inevitable burn and churn cycle most rights holders go through.
When we are understaffed, but still need to deliver the best account management for our clients and this is what we do:
- Plan, plan, plan. Planning is key. Sponsorship tends to work in cycles – most people aren’t buying in the summertime or over Christmas. If you know this in advance, you can pre-plan blocks of time that your team dedicates purely to planning the activation of the sponsor rather than the typical ad hoc chasing that tends to happen whenever someone secures a new sponsor. By creating a full year’s calendar plan that outlines when people need to focus on sponsorship sales and when they need to focus on account management, you are ensuring that the time spent is useful and intentional – and also means you don’t need to hire a secondary team to do something your current resource can.
- Communicate. If you have a lot of sponsors, create a sponsorship communications plan. Or take it one step further and create a sponsors communication platform online. Keep them up-to-date on what is going on with the project and ensure they remember what they should be doing. If keeping them up-to-date is too challenging, at minimum just sign them up to your organisation’s newsletter. Unbelievably this only happens about 50% of the time and requires no resource at all, but at least your sponsor is kept in the loop with what is happening so they can activate and communicate their involvement around key times in the year.
- Create deadlines. Most people think that once they have a sponsor, they are beholden to their sponsor’s timeline. By doing this, you are creating a ton of extra work for yourself – as well as your sponsor. Create actual deadlines with consequences. For example, “Please communicate you wish to distribute leaflets at our event by December 15th. We will not be able to include any leaflets past this date.” These deadlines help your sponsors manage their own internal resource so they aren’t scrambling at the printers the day before an event. By giving them (and your own team) a long lead time, you have a full plan of action of what needs to be done when.
Sponsors come on board to work with you. So remember that once that sponsorship contract is signed, it’s only the beginning!