More than Cold Hard Cash: How to Get More From Your Brand Sponsors 7th June, 2012

What Else Should Sponsoring Organisations Be Getting Out Of Their Sponsors?

This blog actually comes from a question I received on Twitter last week – always a great source of inspiration for posts.  Although I’ve alluded to the answers throughout our blog, I have never written a blog about what the property rights owner should be getting out of their sponsorship.  The reason being, the most obvious answer is money.  However, a sponsor’s investment should not end there – there’s so much more they can offer to benefit the rights owner.

Brand Awareness

As a rights owner, you tend to focus on issues that are of the most immediate concern. Once all sponsors are on board you’ve then got to focus on ticket sales and the invites (and let’s not forget the small matters of sorting out catering, setting up the venue etc.). Before you know it the event has finished and you are back to square one of renewing the event’s sponsors and the cycle starts again.  Time is needed to integrate departments and partners and typically with the urgency of sales and action during a slow economy, there is little time to do much else.

By integrating the objectives of the sales and marketing departments you can make the cycle much smoother for everyone involved and add value to the sponsors of your events.

Brand sponsors tend to have significantly larger customer databases than the rights owners they sponsor.  As such, it can be a cheaper way to bring brand awareness of the event in question through effective marketing campaigns.  These campaigns can then drive ticket sales without the added costs of advertisements and new creative.  Furthermore sending communications to the sponsor’s database helps the sponsor as they want to bring awareness to their customers of the events that they are involved with – that is why they have got involved in the first place.

Joint communication is just a starting block, but once you start thinking more integrated you can come up with a range of communications that benefit all parties, saving you time and money.

Physical Space

One of the things we have started to really push with our sponsors and rights owners is physical space.  For larger brands, they tend to have an abundance of space with the presence of roof top terraces overlooking the Thames that are rarely used to whole floors that no one is working in.  This presents a fantastic opportunity to integrate the brand and the rights owner.

Venue costs are typically the area where most events fall down on – especially charities.  Charities tend to be very rich in terms of content – with celebrity brand ambassadors and a meaningful cause; however, tend not to be able to put on the events they wish they could based on up-front costs such as venue hire.  We have started working with our sponsors more directly and have hosted a number of events within sponsor buildings instead.  This not only saves the charity (or rights owner) money, but also shows a truly integrated approach to brand partnerships.  Furthermore, this provides the brand an opportunity to showcase their own building, their culture and their internal teams.


Another benefit that sponsors can bring to rights owners is actual people.  In terms of staff engagement, this tends to work best in charities and is often a key reason that brands get involved with national causes – to get their teams working together on something greater than the 9 to 5.  It also helps create a team environment even with their staff are based all over the country.  Staff engagement or volunteering for the sponsored charity is a key benefit that charities should try and incorporate within their sponsorship proposal whenever possible.  This not only provides additional volunteers for the charity which is always needed, but also can go a long way in terms of securing internal buy in from the brand itself – future proofing the financial investment.

These are just some of the benefits that sponsors can bring to organisations apart from cold hard cash, but there are many more.  The key is to find the synergies between the rights owner and the brand sponsor – understanding every party’s objective and collaborating with each other to help achieve something that is greater than the sum of its parts is what a true partnership is all about.

How to Build Working Relationships 24th April, 2012

Many companies feel that sales people are the face of the company and therefore are the only ones who need to foster relationships.  This could not be farther from the truth.  As the divide between marketing and sales grows thinner it becomes increasingly important for everyone to appreciate developing and growing working relationships – this includes the creative executive designing ads in an agency to the marketing manager in a brand.  Collaboration is not just necessary in smaller communities – it is everywhere.  It exists within your office as well as outside of your office – between departments and between agencies.

At Slingshot Sponsorship, building relationships is not just a service we provide; it’s the vital component to our business’s survival.  Fortunately, we are blessed with amazing, talented clients and sponsors so our job is not too difficult; however, there are some key tips we use to help us build lasting working relationships:

1.  TRANSPARENCY – Far too often there are too many secret squirrel discussions going on – between the agency, client, brand, creative team, etc.  But 99% of the time everyone is trying to achieve the same objective and so being transparent highlights where there are gaps in misunderstanding.  Sorting these gaps out early helps speed up the project.  Transparancy can also highlight where people have been given different information, which can also be the reason for delays.

In our sponsorship agency, we like to be transparent with everything – from the prices of our sponsorship proposals to the rates we charge our clients.  There is a value to everything we do and everything we sell; therefore the need to hide pricing is unnecessary.  For example, you wouldn’t pay £7 for a bag of Haribo because it’s not worth that (unless you were in a ski resort in the Alps).

2.  COMMUNICATE – This goes without saying, but communication is an obvious way to build relationships.  Furthermore, by communicating with your clients/sponsors/agencies you can find out changes within the business faster than by reading about it on the latest edition of Marketing Week.  This not only helps you build your relationship, but helps you deliver the best value.

For our rights owner clients, we try and help forge this communication with face-to-face interaction mid-way through a sponsorship programme.  For example, we sign sponsors to the What Car? Awards in May leaving a large gap of time between signing contracts and the awards ceremony (January).  In order to keep the communication maintained we have introduced a Sponsors Lunch in September to update sponsors and more importantly to build relationships – between both the rights owner and sponsor, but also between sponsors.

3.  CARE – True relationships are not built on the used-car salesman technique of faking it.  If you are like most people, you will be working in the same industry for the majority of your career – as will your peers.  People like to work with people they like and people tend to like people who are helpful, considerate, and knowledgeable.  If you don’t care about your job, you certainly won’t care about someone else’s – which is never a good starting point to fostering a relationship.

As a sponsorship agency, most of what we do is build relationships – however, the importance for building lasting relationships applies for every industry and every job you are in.

Outlook Festival appoints Slingshot Sponsorship as exclusive agency 23rd April, 2012

Outlook Festival – Winners of the ‘Best International Festival’ at the Festival Awards– have appointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency.

Slingshot Sponsorship will work closely with the Croatian-based event to increase awareness and commercial revenue through the creation of sponsorship opportunities as well as creating new digital brand partnerships.  Keen to preserve the traditional values of the Outlook Festival, Slingshot Sponsorship will ensure sponsors are carefully incorporated into the fabric of the event, adding value to the 15,000 festival goers at the event and the millions of music lovers who engage with the Outlook brand online throughout the year.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship, commented:

We are thrilled to be working with Outlook Festival this year.  They epitomise how growing organically and being true to a brand can create advocates exponentially.  This is a fantastic opportunity for brands to be involved with an influential music festival in Croatia – not to mention UK brands building relationships prior to Croatia’s acceptance into the EU in 2013.  The potential for audience engagement is like no other festival currently in the market because of their digital capabilities, making it an amazing platform for brands to be involved with.

Only in its fifth year, Outlook is already regarded as the biggest bass music festival in Europe, featuring the most prestigious names in the most cutting-edge dances across the globe.  Acts already confirmed include Fat Freddy’s Drop, Skream, Digital Mystikz & Andy C with many more to follow, ensuring 2012 will top the incredibly high standards Outlook sets itself each year.

Johnny Scratchley, Founder of Outlook Festival commented:

I’m very excited to now be working with Slingshot Sponsorship, they have the perfect ethos for us as a festival and are expert inthe new areas of media we are currently focusing on.

Music Festival Sponsorship: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 17th April, 2012

We have been talking a lot about music sponsorship here at Slingshot.  Mainly because we are knee-deep in a couple of very exciting music projects, but also because everyone is gearing up for festival season.  Mostly I have been consumed with which festival to go to for our agency’s second birthday, but I have also been having some interesting conversations with both brands and rights holders on what is coming up this year and the current state of music festival sponsorship.

The Good

Festival sponsorship has always been a great platform for brand engagement – especially in the UK market with the English music lover’s ability to bare rain, sun, sleet, and a muddy tent with a smile on their face.  It not only provides the perfect atmosphere for a receptive audience, but also the space to really leverage brand experiences.  Festival-goers walk away with memories they cherish forever, which can provide a significant amount of brand recall for future years to come.  Consider V Festival – the name so synonymous with Virgin Media it surprises many when you find out they don’t actually own this festival, but just act as the Headline Sponsors.

The Bad

Because festival s has been such a great sponsorship platform, brands have flocked in droves – creating a cluttered market.  Instead of engaging with a couple brands, festival goers are often  bombarded by marketing messages,samples, activations, offers and more.  One festival had so many pre-sale sponsors that most people didn’t know where to purchase tickets and so opted to  not do it, which consequently saw the festival getting cancelled as they couldn’t underwrite the loss nor project the future sales of tickets for a show that saw a disjointed initial promotion.

The Ugly

Not only are festivals becoming more cluttered making it difficult for brands to ensure cut through, more festivals are entering the market and then being cancelled for a variety of reasons (see above).  This creates nervousness for Marketing Directors who really need to be confident that their marketing budget is safe and working for them.  Plans, resources, campaigns are in place well in advance and having a significant portion of their plans cancelled at the last minute is just not an option in the current economic climate where budgets are scrutinised and sometimes wrong decisions can place your job in jeopardy.  Last year alone saw 42 festivals cancelled and already this year many major festivals are also calling in the towel.

But all is not lost!

This is not to say that sponsoring music festivals is a bad idea – far from it.  But there needs to be careful consideration into which music festivals brands do choose to partner with and also a solid strategy in which to activate.  When both the brands and the rights owners work together amazing potentials can be created and tend to drive not only the experience for the muddied music lover, but also create brand advocates and sustain the festivals that can deliver these innovative types of sponsorship collaborations.

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!

Sponsorship: Pushing boundaries in an ever changing landscape 24th February, 2012

Sponsorship is a very unique industry, one that is both growing as well as dramatically shifting.  At the moment, there seems to be an inertia amongst sponsorship agencies and brands at one end of the scale, while at the other end there is an active driving force pushing the industry into a more ‘grown-up’ and sustainable form of marketing. I’d like to think Slingshot Sponsorship is the latter.

Put simply, sponsorship is a form of marketing.  And just like good old fashioned direct marketing campaigns, sponsorship needs to be measured, creative and deliver results for the client.  Somewhere along the line, sponsorship campaigns have stagnated, which has created an industry that bases success on logo views making it no different to advertising – except lacking the creativity.  This was caused by the reasons sponsorship was signed off initially – typically the CEO who was boosting his own ego and basing brand positioning on access to hospitality boxes and exclusive tickets, rather than marketing ROI.

However, sponsorship is so much more than that and for the brands and sponsorship agencies out there who are willing to work a bit smarter, the returns can be significant.

My favourite example of smarter thinking is with the Direct Marketing Association who dramatically shifted their involvement with sponsorship enabling them to provide more value to their members at no additional cost (view case study here).  Rather than just being an add on, this membership organisation now counts sponsorship revenue as core to their business processes and integral to their overall income.

Another smarter thinking client we have is the What Car? Awards, which saw an increase of 1032% on sponsorship revenue this year simply by shifting some of their current activities in order to create value for their sponsors (view case study here).  For example, instead of just having sponsors involved with the presentation ball itself, What Car? created new promotional channels including promotion of the shortlist through media sponsor The Metro; providing sponsors a significant amount of national exposure.  Neither additional resource nor expense was needed as the shortlist was always part of their programme, but by changing the promotion and involving partners, this dramatically changed the value derived for the What Car? Awards sponsors.

We like to think we are pushing boundaries  and making sponsorship work harder and smarter for our clients so if you are interested in pushing some with us, make sure to get in touch or sign up to our newsletter.

Be My Sponsorship Valentine 14th February, 2012

Although I can already hear the grumbles of how Valentine’s Day is just another retail scheme to get our sterling, I happen to love it.  And it just so happens that keeping your Valentine happy follows a similar strategy to sponsorship renewals.

Getting sponsors can be tricky; however, keeping sponsors should be relatively easy if you follow our Valentines rules:

1. The little things mean a lot.

Sponsors should be treated as business partners.  You should take a keen interest  and really embrace their involvement with your platform.  If there are ever opportunities for you to invite them to other events or even take them out for coffee when they are in town, do so – don’t wait until the event that they sponsor to try and build the relationship on the night.

2. Find special gifts that are unique to them.

Sponsors’ businesses are ever changing and it would be impossible for you to keep up with their evolution.  However, by having an open dialogue and regular communication this will allow you to truly understand their strategies and objectives – making it easier for you to recognise when an added value opportunity within your platform could help their business.

3. Surprise them.

Everyone loves a surprise so try and surprise them with added value throughout the term of the agreement.  This could include new promotional advertisements you’ve managed to secure or even a Sponsors Lunch – additional benefits that weren’t on the original sponsorship proposal.

4. Don’t expect the world when you haven’t given it.

All too often sponsors are given the sales pitch about how this sponsorship will go above and beyond;  how they will work with the sponsor on PR and put together new ideas throughout the year.  However, more commonly the pitch is given, the sponsor signs on this basis, and then never hears from the property again – except of course for when it is time to renew.  It is important that when you make promises, you keep them.

5. The relationship should be easy.

Sponsorship should be an easy commitment if you are doing all the above.  Ensuring the basics are managed is a simple task and should not be left up to the sponsor. This leaves them with the time to be more creative and work with you on adding value elsewhere.  The easier the activation is for them, the easier it will be for everyone.

Good luck with your Valentine’s Day today and hopefully these tips will also come in handy when it comes to sponsorship renewals!

Top 3 Sponsorship Predictions 2012 9th January, 2012

Following the mulled wine and too many Quality Street sweets over the Christmas period, I thought it would be important to kick start the year with some predictions on the sponsorship industry for 2012.  With so many new things happening this year, it may prove to be a unsettled year for many organisations and difficult for anyone to predict much; however, here are my top 3 predictions:

1.  The Olympic Predicament

To sponsor or not to sponsor events during the London Olympic Games period – that is the question on everyone’s mind.  Although most of the big brands have taken one road or the other, many brands still have not yet decided how to take advantage of the opportunity of millions of people descending upon London providing a fantastic opportunity to reach a global community locally.

The nervousness lies in history as well as legalities.

With many brands having never been involved with initiating marketing campaigns during the Olympics, it can be almost impossible to decide whether sponsoring events or even increasing marketing during the London Olympic Games will pay off or if you will just get lost in the brand mass.

Although I can’t predict whether or not every brand should go for it as it will always be brand dependent and also dependent on the activation and platform you will be pushing your marketing through – I can say that the London Olympics is providing an opportunity that won’t be coming around again in the near future and if you are able to take advantage, then you should get on board.  However, I’d recommend deciding how you’ll participate sooner rather than later in order to make the most out of your sponsorship and marketing campaigns during this period.

2.  Brands are Working Together

I mentioned this in last year’s prediction post, but it still rings true today.  More and more, brands are working together and creating synergy of resource.  Most often this is because it is cheaper, but more importantly brand partnerships achieve more together than they can apart.  This is a huge benefit of sponsorship, but you can also achieve the same benefits through in-kind partnerships and joint strategies – for example, getting a Print Partner or a Media Partner on board with your event.

Furthermore, more agencies will be looking to work together rather than treating each other as competitors.  We’ve even gone done this route recently teaming up with Brand Innovation Agency BITE in order to provide their Scandinavian-based clients with sponsorship services and our clients with branding services – benefiting both sets of clients!

3.  The Sponsorship Market will be Cluttered!

With a significant number of public funding organisations losing their funding this year, I anticipate there will be an influx of sponsorship proposals being sent out to brands.  This means a number of things for rights owners, but mainly:

  1. Rights owners will have a harder time selling sponsorship.
  2. Great proposals and pitches will differentiate the competition rather than platforms due to lack of resource.

And for interest, you can also read my 2011 Predications Blog and find out whether I was right.

Good luck with 2012 – regardless of whether my predications are right, I can bet it will be a very interesting year for everyone.  And of course, don’t forget to sign up to the Slingshot Sponsorship Blog in order to track my predication progress!

Make Money with your Blog – Monetising Social Media through Sponsorship 25th October, 2011

Monetising social media is a tricky business.  Although we are not experts in this (for social media experts, get in touch and we can pass on some recommendations!), we are however experts at sponsorship and utilising sponsorship to reap financial rewards for our clients.

These sponsorship tips can be utilised on a number of social media platforms, but more commonly can be found and developed on a blog. Freely available (see WordPress), blogs can not only drive conversations and showcase expertise, but can also provide the perfect platform to integrate new sponsorship revenues.

A great example of integrating sponsorship with social media can be seen with the DMA Email Marketing Blog.  A fantastic source for everything email marketing and written by industry gurus, this blog is read globally and has become one of the prime resources for email marketers.

Here are some of our tips for integration:


Sponsorship is only possible if there is an audience.  Fortunately, the DMA Email Blog had been going for some time and had a significant number of registrants already.  This not only proved that there was appetite for the content, but also that any sponsors involved with the blog would be guaranteed to reach an audience.

Do not try and sell anything until you have a proven audience.


A number of integrated benefits were provided within the DMA Email Blog sponsorship proposal.  These assets were tailored to reach the prospective sponsor’s objectives – the two most important included:

  1. Opportunity to write guest blogs – providing industry expert positioning
  2. Online display advertising – to promote the services or run competitions

Always think about your prospective sponsors before you look to build the assets into your sponsorship proposal.  What might be something key for you may not be of value to a brand.


Pricing for sponsorship can vary, but should always have a value attributed to the tangible benefits you can offer.  Tangible benefits typically include media rights, physical space (events), access to a database, etc.  As the DMA already provided online advertising on their homepage and throughout the site, there was a base CPM rate for the audience.  The sponsorship of the DMA Email Marketing Blog was based on this precedent.

In the case where you do not have anything to base your pricing on, refer to other advertising costs for online display in similar fields bearing in mind that your reach with a blog will be far less than with an online publication.


Ensure that you have analytics to back up the cost and show the value to the sponsors you are aligning with.  Without measurement in place, sponsorship will have no value and you will not be able to attribute ROI to the brand.

For more information on social media and sponsorship, make sure to check out the presentation Property Rights Owners Make Money with Social Media on SlideShare.