My Placement Year In The Sponsorship Industry 27th June, 2019

University is a platform for a higher earnings potential, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee it. With few real-world skills, more and more graduates are finding that 6 months to a year post graduation: they have yet to find a job in their preferred industry.

 Naturally, this is an alarming reality for anyone attending university, but there is something that can be done to increase chances of employment: placement years. Placement years are a ‘sandwich’ option, allowing UK students to defer their final year in order to get a taste of the real world and in my case, a taste of sponsorship.  

 There are nearly 2 million undergraduates in the UK every year, I need to do something to stand out.

Away from the often-rigid restraints of university assignments – “this is the task, and this is how you must do it” – the real world is sometimes a stark contrast. There are a thousand ways to complete a job and often, there’s little instruction on how to do it, one must use their initiative. You know it. I know it. Employers know it. Hence, those with a strong employment history appeal more than a green undergraduate.

 I deferred my final year. I applied for over 70 internships. I landed at Slingshot Sponsorship. A small yet renowned agency who weren’t even looking for a new team member but were willing to take me under their wing.

Working a year in an agency has been so highly advantageous to my career development, its hard to put into words (However I will attempt to for the remainder of this blog). I’ve learnt a lot: not just about the sponsorship industry, but about the workings of an agency, how to be malleable and more importantly how to balance multiple tasks, leads and clients at once: something university definitely doesn’t prepare you for.

 One Key Thing I’ve learnt:

Learn. I have always been a keen learner. But having little experience within the industry and little experience in a 9-5: you really have to open your eyes and open your ears. Being able to be taught is an invaluable skill and it is essential to progressing in any career. Sponsorship is an ever-evolving landscape and coupled with working in a small agency – where job roles aren’t necessarily heavily defined – it’s crucial to adapt your skillset and learn new ones as quick as you can: if not, you’ll be left behind.

The top 3 favourite aspects of working in sponsorship:

  1. Insight. Working in a small agency has given me the opportunity to grow my knowledge beyond what I could have imagined 12 months ago. My role at Slingshot as been sales and yet: I’ve valued sponsorship properties, created proposals, liaised with clients, pitched global brands, managed social media accounts and taken care of the blogging. Additionally, our clients aren’t just sport. I’ve worked across all industries from B2B conferences to government initiatives to entertainment and live music, making me think on my toes and adapt my skillset on a daily basis. On top of this: my directors have even made me coffee. I doubt there’s many large agencies that give the same opportunities; I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste a year doing admin.


  1. Creating relationships.As mentioned, my main role at Slingshot has been sales, and I’ve enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it. Working in sales for 12 months has allowed me to build my contact base exponentially and create some great relationships along the way. Relationships are the key to the sponsorship industry (insert classic tale of the Manchester United/Chevrolet deal here) so to have been given the platform and guidance to make so many connections will prove to be extremely beneficial down the line.


  1. Working as a team. Coming from a team- sport background, working in a small team that co-operates and thrives has been one of the most enjoyable factors of my experience. Especially as there’s been no hierarchical malarkey: Slingshot is one of the most open and transparent workplaces I’ve experienced. I’ve really jelled with the team here and to say I’m going to miss it would be a BIG understatement.


Presenting to sponsorship students at Leeds Beckett University


Placement year has exceeded my expectations. 

I truly never expected to have learnt so much in a relatively short space of time, and on top of that: didn’t expect to enjoy it half as much as I have. But most importantly I’ve given myself a head-start against my fellow graduates, the skills I’ve learnt will put me in best stead for sealing that all-important grad job and will certainly differentiate me for other candidates.

I cannot recommend a placement year enough. 

Whilst university teaches you time management and a degree demonstrates your knowledge in a specialist field: neither provide you with a well-rounded skillset or real-world industry knowledge. Slingshot and my placement year have delivered on both accounts and given me a deep pool of industry contacts which are crucial for success in the sponsorship industry.

Now, just got to go and write that dissertation.

Treat Them Mean, Keep Them Keen – Not In Sponsorship 6th May, 2016

Now more than ever the sponsorship market is packed full of opportunities for brands, making the task of securing brand sponsors an ever harder job for rights holders. The need now for rights holders is to not only understand the value of their propositions, but also find a way to differentiate from the competition to bring in that much craved sponsorship revenue.

To do this, many rights holders are now investing heavily to upskill their sales teams. In doing this, rights holders are realising that there is a great deal of prior effort and expertise needed to secure sponsors, and therefore retaining sponsors is perhaps now even more important than it once was.

As sponsors become ever more precious to a rights holder you would assume that it would be fundamental for a rights holder to make sure they go above and beyond on delivery, however, all too often there still seems to be a disconnect, as many brands are miss-sold on promises that are never delivered.

This disconnect will of course hurt a brand when it comes to successfully activating their sponsorship, but for rights holders, besides the obvious initial financial void and short term pressures that come with that, this could have a far more adverse effect in the long run:

Bad Reputation – people talk. It doesn’t matter whether the brand has paid £5k or £5m, it’s a small world and word travels fast, especially in this digital era with a bad reference only a click away. Much like how happy sponsors are generally very willing to shout about you in a positive light, the same goes for a disgruntled sponsor who will have no remorse when shouting about you in a derogative fashion. Having a bad reputation as a rights holder when it comes to delivering sponsorship will undoubtedly plant seeds of doubt into any brand when they receive a proposal about investing in your platform.

Weakened Platform – in many cases sponsors provide a lot more than just cash, they can add significant value to a property though a variety of means such as increased promotion, engagement and consumer experience. Having successful case studies and previous positive relationships are great tools when selling to prospective brands, so not having these case studies will make a sale all the more difficult. In some cases, the sale of sponsorship could also depend heavily on who is already associated with the platform (especially in B2B sponsorship), so losing one sponsor could potentially result in losing a number of prospective ones too.

Regret – rights holders with multiple sponsors generally have a harder job to ensure a flawless delivery, and will often find it becomes a fine balancing act to decide which brand should be given the most attention at any given time. In these circumstances, it is often most likely to result in the lower tiered sponsor being neglected, and therefore walking away from future involvement (although there are cases of this occurring with high profile sponsors also). Either way, it is criminal for a rights holder to fail to deliver on their promises no matter who the brand is or what they have invested, especially in today’s climate when it is possible for brands to become world famous overnight. Imagine if that lower tiered sponsor turned out to be the next Uber or Spotify.

Selling sponsorship is never easy, in fact it is probably one of the most underrated skills in business full stop. Due to the nature of sponsorship and the regular changes in strategies for both rights holders and brands, it is natural that some sponsorships will have a short shelf life and often nothing can be done to stop the relationship coming to an end, but to lose a sponsor due to a poor relationship or miss selling is something that needs to be avoided at all costs!

To learn more about the ins and outs of selling and maintaining sponsorship effectively – attend our Sessions event on Thursday May 26th or call our London office on 0207 226 5052 for more information.

Selling Ice to Eskimos 15th October, 2014

If you are in sponsorship sales you want people to say ‘you can sell Ice to Eskimos’ – it is that personal achievement, the moment the salesperson becomes a Spartan.

Through time and experience you learn that selling ice to an Eskimo is relatively easy – they know it, they understand it, and even though they might have way too much of it, it is still easy to show they need it. The Spartan hits his stride, and sales keep flowing in.

Such is the state of traditional sponsorship.  Picture an Eskimo in front of his igloo with the most picturesque icy background you can imagine – blank canvas – get to work, what do you sell?

Leading up to this point the typical sponsorship sales person would categorise the premium located igloo building blocks as worth more than the lessor prestigious placed foundation blocks. The possibility of a flag with a logo, the kit he is wearing, some added hoarding, banner flags and a big screen streaming videos and twitter feeds – #nICE to feel like you are really getting integrated. Taking it further, let’s throw in backdrops and lanyards for the VIP’s; and of course, don’t forget the car they arrive in. Ticketing, collateral, post event photos and highlights reels can be used to extend the memory of this great moment and really maximise exposure.

Done, this is Sparta!

Unfortunately that is also the problem.  This is just selling ice to Eskimos.  It is what the sponsorship industry has done for so many years, it’s traditional and predictable.  Furthermore, Eskimos now have gadgets, gizmos and can travel – making ice potentially less valuable to them then what it once was.

As with Eskimos, brands are also failing to realise the value of a logo and badging.  This is compounded by rights-holders increasing the cost of their sponsorship rights to sustain their growth (rather than increasing the value), whilst brands are reducing their spend to sustain the same.

It is clear there is need for a shift in the sponsorship approach.

Unlike Zerksis, the brave 300 shouldn’t be your stumbling blocks, rather the number of ways you should look at your proposition to really unlock true potential.  Traditional sponsorship is a good start; however this should only be that, the start. To really maximise the potential of both rights-holders and brands, we all need to work harder at uncover rights beyond the straightforward ‘ice assets’ our industry keeps flogging.

What Newsagents & Hairdressers have to do with Sponsorship Sales 16th April, 2013

I love the Newsagent – the whole Slingshot Sponsorship office pop around to the one on Upper Street at least twice a day.  Mr Ozza owns the shop, we love him – and I especially love that he sells my favourite Fizzy Blue Bottle sweets at the counter, a real delicacy around these parts.

However, whenever I pop in I tend to buy the same thing – water, Diet Coke, sweets.  The orders rarely change and no matter how much value Mr Ozza provides us with his convenience, we will never increase our purchase.  For this reason, Mr Ozza’s newsagent is a transactional sale.  It is based on a ‘need’ (3pm sugar fix) and delivered very quickly and efficiently.

Now compare this type of sale to your hairdresser.  You spend months, years even, finding the perfect hairdresser.  Once you have found them, you indulge in the luxury (or if you are male, then perhaps you are just happy to find someone who doesn’t cut your hair where you end up looking like a 12 year old).

Either way, you are happy.

You then start building a relationship with your hairdresser and when they recommend a product the next time you come in – you buy it.  When you discover that the product works you start to view your hairdresser as credible and someone who knows what you want/need.  Years go by and you start to realise that not only have you purchased all your hair products from one salon based upon your hairdressers’ tips, you’ve started eating out and going to the new pubs they recommend.  This is a relational sale.  It is a sales process which increases with time, trust and ability to deliver.

Now there are places for transactional sales within sponsorship – tactical sales and deals that work for specific reasons that don’t need investment.  However, many should aspire to create a more relational model with their sponsorship sales.

And similar to the hairdresser, here are my 5 tips for creating a relational sponsorship sale:

  1. If it is a new platform, be expected to provide credibility elsewhere – proof that your event truly is what you claim it is.
  2. Like a shampoo sample, brands will be unwilling to invest in your sponsorship platform for millions if they haven’t attended the event or even tried sponsorship on a smaller level.
  3. Be likeable and professional – I hate a moody hairdresser and similarly I hate working with people that I don’t see eye to eye with.  Most brands are in it for the long haul with sponsorship, if they don’t think you are capable or if they just plain don’t like you, it doesn’t encourage investing in you.
  4. Know the up sell – be prepared for when the sponsorship does work – be sure to be clear on additional ways in which the brand is able to get involved and gain more benefits.
  5. Know your client – if you don’t know what they want, how are you going to sell anything?

Sponsorship Measurement: Going Beyond Direct Financial Return 16th May, 2012

With such mixed opinions on whether the efficiency of a sponsorship campaign can truly be measured, this blog separates the more top line, easy-to-measure and less enlightening data from the true indicators of tangible sponsorship success.

Short-Sighted Sums

Q: Why do companies invest in sponsorship?

A: To alter brand perception and/or consumer buying behaviour.

So, why is it such common practice to measure the success of a sponsorship campaign by looking only at the positive or negative difference between sales directly linked to the campaign against the initial sponsorship investment? On the whole, sponsorship, along with any other marketing medium, is used with the overall aim of increasing revenue so it can be easy to only consider the revenue made from such sponsorship activities as promotions, merchandising or on-site sales. Albeit an indicator of success, direct sales are only a small part of a much bigger picture.

This also goes for generic figures e.g. logo impressions, attendance, the size of a newsletter distribution database etc. Whilst important, this is not actually indicating whether consumer behaviour or brand perceptions have been altered. In fact, the real proof lies within the more specific and objective data, providing a much more transparent account of how effective the campaign has actually been.

True Indicators

It is vital that all indicators are set with a strict focus on the short and long term marketing objectives of an organisation. Monetary factors could include new business along with average customer spend, whilst percentages would relate to brand credibility and customer loyalty. There are also additional figures that can act as key engagement indicators such as unique visitors to a dedicated web page or micro-site along with participation in customer promotions. It is important that this data is compared with previous figures and benchmarks as this will indicate change, rather than simply justifying the investment.

There are then the more individual factors such as relationships with key industry figures and institutions whose opinions are a highly influential driving force behind the economics of a particular market place. Whilst impossible to give such indicators a monetary value, these relationships are imperative when considering brand perception.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

It is important to consider measurement early on, compiling a list of KPIs for each marketing objective before undertaking a sponsorship campaign. These indicators will provide a clear foundation for the sponsorship strategy as well as allow for streamlining throughout the course of the campaign in order to ensure that all activity is as beneficial and relevant to the marketing objectives as possible.

360˚ Analysis

Particularly for larger-scale sponsorships that affect all stakeholders throughout the sponsor’s organisation e.g. consumers, clients, employees etc., a KPI survey allows for feedback on such key criteria as brand profile, activation and overall partnership value.

When distributing the survey to a number of stakeholders with varying degrees of involvement with the campaign, a well-rounded evaluation can be pieced together, providing an overhead view of how the sponsorship is perceived from every angle possible.

This therefore allows for the sponsorship campaign to be executed at as close to maximum efficiency as possible, proving measurement to be an invaluable part of the sponsorship process.

The State of Measurement Today

From a rights holder’s perspective, measurement is unequivocally the key factor in creating strong case studies which in turn improves the likelihood of renewals along with additional sponsorship sales. However, due to a common perception that sponsorship is too much of a multi-faceted marketing medium to be measured, many sponsors have only a vague idea of how beneficial their partnerships actually are and have no real indication of where the room for improvement lies.

With sponsorship spend on the rise along with campaigns becoming increasingly integrated, transparency and ROI are proving to be ever more important in today’s challenging economic climate. This is where specialist sponsorship and marketing analysis agencies are able to demonstrate their true value, working with rights holders and sponsors to implement a structured approach to measurement, providing piece-of-mind in the knowledge that sponsorship is a truly effective marketing tool when executed correctly.

Sponsorship Sales: Make a Lasting Impression 8th March, 2012

So, your consumers and audience have been audited, your assets valuated and your sales materials designed. Now the time comes to really nail down specific brands that you will be approaching with your proposal. This is often not thought through.  Far too often, rights holders are not taking into consideration the actual likelihood of the brand wanting to partner with the property or the brand’s objectives, this leading to a significant amount of time being wasted in getting knocked back by brands with little interest in discussing the opportunity.

This blog provides a brief insight into how to adopt an improved, more streamlined and strategic sales approach allowing you to encourage qualitative conversations, save time in approaching irrelevant prospects, close deals faster, improve sales staff morale and generally increase sponsorship revenue on the whole.

Sales Preparation

Prospect lists: It is easy to rush this process and simply name all brands within sponsorship categories that may be of relevance to your property. For example, motorsport lends itself to brands looking to promote the idea of luxury and wealth and/or simply raise awareness on a mass scale as a result of the sport’s extensive global following. Sponsorship categories therefore tend to consist of such brand areas as alcohol, telecoms, financial institutions, insurance, watches and consumer electronics to name those most prominent within the sport today.

Simply listing all brands within each of these categories without really looking into whether they will actually consider the opportunity can be highly time-inefficient and will also hinder the sales approach as the knowledge of each brand will not be deep enough to hold a sales conversation regarding how this opportunity is going to help this brand in particular.


A tailored approach: Take the brand’s objectives into consideration – there is nothing more off-putting than a generic call which screams “you are the 100th prospect I have approached today.” Although initially being more time consuming, researching company and brand objectives will allow for a more engaging and qualitative conversation, giving your contact the incentive to find out more.

As a sales person, this is also much more satisfying than repeating the same old spiel to each prospect you speak to. Taking a thought-out approach will also prepare you to be more responsive when asked, “how exactly do you see us (the brand) getting involved?”

Little details: Research the prospect’s previous activity and make note of some specific points that relate to the platform you are offering. This will show that you have really considered the company and have a good knowledge of what direction they are looking to take the brand in.

Build a rapport: From first contact to signing on the dotted line, most deals will generally require a number of calls and meetings, so try to establish a rapport with your contacts from the get go. Be sure to make notes of any personal comments they have made, plans they have coming up, comments about their day, which football team they support – anything that can be brought forward to the next conversation will help emphasise the fact that you are being considerate of both them and their brand.

Also, keep it in mind that the opportunity you are presenting will be equally beneficial to both parties (the rights holders and the brand) and so a call should take the format of a conversation rather than a one-way sales pitch. By being personable, upbeat and positive, you will project the fact that you believe in your project as a sponsorship platform.

Relevant opportunities: Certain sponsorship opportunities will appeal more to different audiences.  For example, financial institutions that rely on consumer trust loyalty may be more interested in hospitality in order to build and deepen their customer relationship.  Alternatively, car manufacturers may be keen on utilising online and social media integration, exclusive content and promotions and competitions to build awareness of new product launches.

Feedback: Many disinterested brands will tend to simply state that the opportunity is not relevant to them, providing no further feedback. However, you should always try to ask for more detail on what their current objectives are, how they currently market themselves, and what sponsorships they may look to be involved with in the future. This will give you a better idea of how similar brands may react and how to deal with it as well as give you some key information about the company’s marketing activity. This may prove useful as it may be that they are more suited to one of your alternative platforms.

Sales are often looked at as the most difficult and daunting part of the sponsorship acquisition process; however when it comes to selling your proposal, it is important to remember that if you have a strong property with suitable lead time, are approaching the relevant brands and taking a strategic approach, securing sponsors should be a piece of cake. Just remember, Slingshot Sponsorship is here to help with the rest… and sales too!