Join Our Webinar – we’ll teach you how to get the right sponsorship 19th June, 2015

At Slingshot Sponsorship we’ve already helped dozens of companies find the right commercial partners. Whether it’s to help them grow, reach a bigger audience, or simply make a project a success, there’s one common theme: we find clients the right, long-term partners.

At the root of it, that’s what Slingshot Sponsorship does differently.

To get there, our clients normally go through our intensive Bootcamp. But we want more businesses and individuals to benefit from the Slingshot approach.

So, working with our friends at Monkfeet, we’re launching our first webinar.

Looking from the perspectives of both attracting and proposing sponsorship, we’ll take you through:

  • Tricks and tips for making the most of sponsorship opportunities
  • How to form valuable marketing and marketing partnerships
  • Understanding your proposition
  • How to write a sponsorship proposal
  • How to navigate the sponsorship sales process

This 55-minute online course might be the best £25 you’ll ever spend. Book now!

We’re also hosting in-person, in-depth sponsorship workshops at Monkfeet: take a look at our courses.

Time – the Key Component for Success in Sponsorship Sales 5th June, 2015

Historically, the premise of a sponsorship deal was a logo on a shirt or a banner at an event arranged overnight. However, the way brands use sponsorship has evolved, working much harder to make a greater impact with a reduced budget. The experience is fundamental for brands now more than ever; therefore, sponsorship professionals must adapt the way they sell to brands. Time is of the essence.

Sponsors endeavour to exhaust all opportunities available to them and meticulously plan their campaigns; therefore the greater period of time given to a sponsor prior to an event, the more valuable the sponsorship can become. With regards to the major sporting event of 2015, the Rugby World Cup; Heineken have stated that the tournament will be their “biggest marketing platform of the year” in a deal announced prior to the finish of the 2011. Emirates have also have signed a deal well in advance of the event which takes place in 2019. In both cases the companies committed to the tournament over 4 years in advance. To allow sponsors the time to fully exploit the opportunities afforded to them, the Rugby World Cup sponsorship sales team would likely have begun devising a sales strategy 5 years in advance from the tournament. If time is critical for sponsors, it is even more so for ones trying to sell it.

Sponsorship sales teams should follow a crucial 5 step process before approaching brands:

5 Step Process

  1. Analyse the market – The start point for any sponsorship deal. Identify the key trends, how active and more importantly, how saturated the market is.
  2. Research the competition – Dig deep into your competitors. Analyse what’s good, what’s bad and apply those points to your property.
  3. Value – Uncover all possible assets of your property and your unique selling points. Using the two previous steps you should be able to provide a justifiable fee.
  4. Prospecting – Identify a number of brands who could benefit from the sponsorship. Have a clear reason of why you are approaching each brand. If you cannot find a reason, take them off the list.
  5. Tailor proposals – Condense your property into a tailored, informative proposal that will catch the eye of a marketing director, intriguing them to put yours top of their pile.

Although this process is time consuming, when done correctly, it is critical for success. Many sponsorship professionals lose out because they do not leave themselves enough time to carry out these crucial steps before approaching brands. In order to be successful in sponsorship sales you need to set targets for each component of the process to be finalised, don’t linger, don’t relax, and above all don’t waste time.

How Small Businesses Can Maximise Sponsorship Potential in 2015 15th January, 2015

*This article was originally published on Smarta

Sponsorship isn’t just for Premier League football clubs – and despite what the front covers of newspapers might tell you, it can actually be more impactful for small businesses if you do it well. Jackie Fast, founder of Slingshot Sponsorship, has worked with big brands across the globe and the entrepreneur gives her 5 tips for securing sponsorship this year.

The benefit of being a small business in 2015 is that you have many more sponsorship assets that you can work with than ever previously, allowing you to create more sponsorship packages, additional value, and ultimately driving more revenue to your bottom line.

Here are my top 5 tips for securing sponsorship successful in 2015:

1. Don’t Just Think Money

There is a big misconception that sponsorship is a cash transaction. However, a lot of sponsorship is done through contra agreements or value-in-kind. You can significantly decrease expenses by partnering with experts in the form of Venue Sponsors, Photography Sponsors, Branding Sponsors, PR Agency Sponsors, etc.  Have a look at what is costing you the most and if your audience is of value, then there is an opportunity to work more collaboratively with your suppliers.

2. Think Outside of the Box for Contra Deals

Sponsorship can also expand activity you are doing, which may lead to an increase in sponsorship. For example, many smaller businesses do not have the expertise, resource, or money to be as digitally savvy as they wish they were. However, by partnering with other digital firms or technology products, you may be able to incorporate more digital based services or products which may help increase your core revenue stream.

3. Consider Being A Sponsor

Most small businesses rarely consider sponsorship as part of their marketing mix as they feel that sponsorship is only for big business. However, securing sponsorship rights can also be done on a contra deal and can greatly increase your marketing activity with minimal cost.

4. Don’t Forget Your Audience

Sponsorship isn’t just about money, sponsorship is about creating a partnership which provides mutual benefits for both parties. You need to understand your audience as well as the audience you are going after before you start considering how to create a partnership.  The better understanding of audiences and how those businesses can work together, the stronger and more sustainable your sponsorship will be.

5. Get Help

Sponsorship isn’t rocket science, but it also requires more than just going out and doing it. You don’t want to burn bridges and equally you don’t want to waste time, so some advice can help you get there much quicker than going it alone.  Read blogs and articles, attend sponsorship conferences and events, or get training (check out Slingshot’s Bootcamp or Sponsorship Sessions!).

You can network with Jackie by following her on Twitter

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.

How To Get Sponsors Working For Your Business 4th August, 2014

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.

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?

Red Bull Challenges F1's Sponsorship Stallion 5th December, 2012

In the last couple of weeks, the Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel vs. Ferrari and Fernando Alonso rivalry has dominated sporting headlines. In the end it was yet again the former who took both the Constructers’ and the Drivers’ World Championship titles in the thrilling Formula 1 season finale in Brazil. This nail-biting end to the season has prompted a closer look at the team’s and driver’s success off the track and their contention for the commercial crown.

The Constructers’ (Sponsorship) Championship:

Despite prize money being in the millions, sponsorship is by far the key source of revenue for both teams and their drivers which begs the question: who is leading the commercial championship?

According to Forbes’ latest list of the ‘Formula One’s Most Valuable Teams’ Ferrari’s total revenue is estimated to be around £240m with £190m being generated from sponsorship alone. Nearly £155m is generated via three major deals with Shell, Santander and title sponsorship partner Marlboro. These three deals are worth more than any other team’s total sponsorship revenue.

But what about Red Bull Racing? Out of all teams on the grid, they are surprisingly down in fourth in the overall revenue standings at £100m in 2011. 60% of this revenue comes from Red Bull’s success on the track earning them more prize money than any other team in the championship however the contribution from sponsors falls significantly shorter than Ferrari, coming to £38m positioning the team in the middle of the sponsorship field. The main reason for this is that the brand does not seek sponsors for most of their advertising space as this is generally used for self-promotion. As opposed to Ferrari (whose title sponsor is Marlboro at £100m) and other leading teams like McLaren Mercedes (Vodafone, £47m) and Mercedes AMG F1 (Petronas, £35m), Red Bull is sacrificing a significant amount of commercial opportunity in this area. However, this may all be about to change with the constructors’ champions securing their first title sponsorship deal with Nissan’s luxury arm, Infiniti.

When reviewing the revenue potential of both teams, Ferrari should still be out of reach in the short-term with regards to team value however with Red Bull being the fastest growing team in the paddock, the commercial gap is certainly narrowing.

The Drivers’ (Sponsorship) Championship:

Are Vettel and Alonso also competing for a sponsorship title? In his latest blog post, Mark Mylam asked whether sports men and women as brand ambassadors were really worth the money from a sponsor’s perspective as there is always a risk associated with their image deteriorating and affecting the image of the endorsed brand. An almost risk-free sportsman for instance could be Sebastian Vettel. The driver is unarguably one of the most charismatic Formula 1 drivers, as demonstrated at last year’s Autosport Awards and although his interview at the podium ceremony of Abu Dhabi included some strong words, nothing seems to be able to tarnish his image. This is why Sebastian Vettel, who manages his endorsement deals himself, enjoys lucrative sponsorship deals with Casio and Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders worth around £2m in total, according to a study carried out by Sport + Markt.

Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, seems to have a completely different persona. One could perceive him as being rather introverted although he is not one to shy away from commercial opportunities with earnings upwards of £6m through his deals with Santander, Tag-Heuer and Puma in 2011. This positions Alonso at the top of the sponsorship leaderboard with Michael Schumacher way behind at £3.5m and Lewis Hamilton (£2.5m) ahead of both Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, both at £2m. Marcel Cordes, Executive Director at Sport + Markt, points out that it is unlikely that Vettel will be able to close this gap as “he (Vettel) is already very strongly associated with the Red Bull brand”. Also, Sebastian Vettel is not interested in signing sponsorship deals just for the sake of securing a higher income. He’s already stated in the media: “It is not a goal for me to earn more money. For me, it is important that the brand is ideally suited to me”.

Compared to other sports stars like Roger Federer or Kobe Bryant, sponsorship earnings of Formula 1 drivers are minimal because in most cases, the teams control almost all of their driver’s sponsorship rights.

It is interesting to see that championship wins have by no means been reflective of either team’s or drivers’ respective commercial successes but will this continue into 2013? With the pressure mounting on Sebastian Vettel, could we see Ferrari’s sponsorship stallion overtake the Red Bull both on the track as well as off or will the power of the ‘Vettrick’ prove too much to contend with? Let us know your thoughts!

Calling all UK consultants & agencies – Slingshot Sponsorship needs you! 14th August, 2012

We have had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients recently through our One-Day Sponsorship Boot Camp.  Many of whom are on the verge of producing great platforms and strategies that will create sustainable sponsorship programmes.

However, what many of them currently lack is the resource and sales skills to effectively sell their sponsorship packages to the UK market.

Slingshot have collated a sponsorship consultant and agency roster, which outlines all the good and great agencies and consultants who are able to work with projects on a commission-only or small-fee + commission package.  However, with the recent influx of freelancers and agencies into sponsorship following the London Olympics our roster is in desperate need of an update.

We have a number of music festival and charity clients who are currently on the lookout so if you think you might have something to offer, we’d really love to hear from you so we can add you to our roster if you aren’t there already!

For more information and to be considered for our consultants roster, please contact Mark Mylam: [email protected] | +44 (0) 207 226 5052.