“How Long Should My Sponsorship Proposal Be?” 9th March, 2016

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: [email protected]

It’s Not Who You Know 10th March, 2014

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!

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?

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.