Sponsorship Sales Basic Series – Part Two: The Three As to Building a Package 17th August, 2015


We have been running a monthly Sponsorship Sessions event at our Head Office since December and some of the challenges and hurdles that are being faced by quite diverse companies we have been helping seem to be the same.  Therefore, I have decided to create a Sponsorship Sales Series for the beginner.  If you are an expert, this blog is not for you – you might be more interested in reading this.


Benefits are key to any partnership as they provide the rights and capability for any brand to activate.  Essentially they are the rights of usage.  It seems simple enough; however, surprisingly many people don’t truly understand what a sponsorship benefit actually is and how it differs from the use of that asset.

Audience:  Your audience is what a sponsor is interested in reaching.  Your audience is not a sponsorship benefit and shouldn’t be included in a contract. The sponsorship benefit is what enables a sponsor to reach your audience.

Asset:  An asset is the benefit you are providing a sponsor and is included in a contract.  This forms part of a rights holder’s deliverables during the term of the agreement.

Activation:  Activation is the activity a sponsors chooses to utilise with the asset(s) they have purchased.  Typically the more creative, engaged and insightful – the more the activation will resonate with the audience, which is key to driving ROI for all parties.  Activation developed alongside the rights holder typically engages audiences better due to the fact that the rights holder understands their audience better than the sponsor.

For example, in a sponsorship agreement with the benefit of social media for the sponsor the breakdown is as follows:

  • Audience = the rights holder’s Twitter network
  • Asset = 5 Tweets
  • Activation = running a Twitter competition giving away 5 prizes to the first person who responds to a Tweet

Far too often, rights holder bulk up their sponsorship package by creating a lot of benefits that is really one asset communicated in different ways.  Although this may make the rights holder feel like they are offering a great deal more, it doesn’t add any value to the prospective sponsor.  Additionally, because rights holders feel like they are giving so much away, then tend to overvalue what is on the table because they themselves are confused about the benefits and the activation of those benefits.

By truly understanding what your assets are, you will start being able to clearly identify what packages and the value of those packages will be – rather than over inflating your proposition.

Sponsorship: It’s not all about the money 21st August, 2013

Recently I came across a short article posted by Richard Branson on Twitter where he stated that ‘people who focus on finance generally fail’.

Now although a little brash, Branson’s comment struck me as rather relevant when it comes to considering sponsorship. The value of a sponsorship opportunity should not be based solely on costing but on the value that sponsorship can bring to the brand.

Finding value in a sponsor proposition is a tenuous topic – brands enter into sponsorship for varying reasons and the true value of each sponsorship is dependent upon what the brand themselves want to gain from it.  For some, the value of a sponsorship opportunity might come from the reinforcement it could provide during a re-brand campaign while others may see value in reaching new audiences.   In this respect, a big budget sponsorship opportunity may not always fulfil the sponsor’s objectives in the same way a lower budget opportunity may see a sponsor reaping huge rewards.

There are of course big businesses with big budgets that can afford the high cost sponsorship opportunities and benefit greatly from them. Companies such as PepsiCo and Coca Cola spent upwards of $280 million on sponsorship in 2012. With budgets like this, these companies can consider the higher ticket sponsorship opportunities like the Olympics and the Super Bowl. But as the marketing director for Nokia said recently, if you can’t outspend, out smart.

In 2012, Inov8, a leading off-trail running brand, sponsored Mark Bayliss in his Arch to Arc (Marble Arch, London to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris) triathlon. This sponsorship was, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively low cost sponsorship but provided Invo8 with priceless opportunities. The success of this example lies in the synergy between the inov8 brand and Mark Bayliss. In completing the event, Mark Bayliss became the first person to complete the channel swim without a wetsuit, setting a new world record and raising money for SportsAid.

Mark’s achievement perfectly complimented Inov8’s brand values – celebrating the grit and glory of the committed athlete.  The reach of the sponsorship might not have been particularly broad, but it provided Inov8 with a direct channel to their target audience and allowed the brand to present their values in the form of a successful athlete.

In the current financial climate, it is important to consider all aspects of a sponsorship opportunity, understanding what your brand needs to gain from the sponsorship and the value that particular proposition can bring.

Why Sponsorship Continues to Prevail 24th October, 2011

With sponsorship budgets continuing to increase year upon year, what advantages does this innovative marketing medium have over those more traditional elements of the advertising mix?

Engaging the Consumer

With marketing mediums such as advertising and sales promotions becoming ever more saturated, companies need to be extremely creative in their efforts to gain brand exposure – especially in terms of activations and partnerships.

Especially with today’s average consumer receiving more information on the products and services available to them at a much higher frequency than ever before, traditional marketing methods are becoming significantly less effective as the general public require something more innovative and engaging in order to provide a focal point within today’s plethora of commercial activity.


Sponsorship is invaluable within the marketing mix as it touches on all the consumer interaction with a property and brand. It can include and is typically a combination of brand advertising, sales promotions, email marketing, experiential, sampling, and social media. A truly engaging sponsorship campaign provides cut-through because it has built a relationship and a commitment to the audience. This relationship creates a primed and responsive avenue to deliver brand messaging, ensuring that the marketing does not fall on deaf ears.

Added Value

An additional reason behind the growing use of sponsorship is down to the value that a partner can bring to a property. Whereas simple branding and promotions result in only a financial benefit to the rights holder, sponsorship provides the opportunity for much more engagement with all parties involved. This can include enhancing the experience of the guest whilst giving the sponsor the opportunity to gain first-hand feedback on their products and services whilst achieving extensive exposure amongst their target audience.

As a result of the potential added value, rights holders are increasingly favouring corporate partnerships as an alternative to simple advertising, due to the added depth and quality delivered to the property whilst also increasing the number of channels for promotion.

The Figures

Emphasising the shift from conventional branding to today’s heavily integrated campaigns, sponsorship is continuing to increase its share of the marketing budget. Despite 2009 being the first time in history that corporate partnership spending in North America saw a decrease from the previous year, 2010 saw sponsorship sales back in full swing with expenditures growing by a healthy 3.9 per cent in 2010, with 2011 forecast to see an impressive growth of a further 5.9 per cent, seeing a total of $18.2 billion spent by the end of the year.

Global sponsorship spending, on the other hand, has well and truly weathered the economic storm, with 2011 set to witness similar growth as seen in 2010 of around 5.2 per cent, bringing worldwide spending to $48.7 billion as reported in IEG’s annual year-end review and forecast.

In comparison, advertising in 2010 is only forecast to increase by 3.9 per cent where as sales promotions have by far taken the biggest hit, forecast to show no signs of growth in 2011 and having shrunk by 3.3 per cent in 2010.

The Future of Sponsorship

Over time, sponsorship as a marketing medium has established itself as a key part of the modern advertising mix, providing opportunities for both brands and rights holders that traditional forms of advertising cannot.

With the recent social media boom also taking sponsorship opportunities to a whole new level, the medium is now more powerful than ever. Integrating social media platforms presents a further development of integration with a fraction of the cost you would have with print – creating truly cost-effective marketing campaigns.

With an increasing number of companies owing a boom in brand awareness to engaging corporate partnerships, the growth in sponsorship is showing no sign of slowing down reflecting the increasing demand for innovation in today’s marketing environment.

Happy Birthday Slingshot: Tips & reflections on starting a sponsorship agency 14th June, 2011

We’ve just had our first birthday – a very big moment for us all!

While waiting for our bottles of champagne to arrive on the table at our birthday party celebration, I thought about the past year and what I could have done better/differently through Year 1.  We’ve had many successes – our most recent being shortlisted for four awards at the upcoming Corporate Engagement Awards as well as a few hiccups, but all in all it’s been such a fantastic year and I can’t wait to start the next one.

Throughout the year, I am constantly asked how I made the leap and so I thought I’d jot down some of my own tips/experiences as a birthday gift to all those thinking about starting up a sponsorship agency (or any service based business for that matter).

  • TIP 1: Understand your agency’s value proposition

Without a full understanding of what your business does, it’s going to be next to impossible to explain, let alone convince others to buy into your service.  Clearly identifying what it is you do, who you’d like to work with, and knowing what you can’t/won’t do is incredibly important.  Do your research and find out what else is out there and what your competitive edge is.  And then, as a good friend and someone I regularly go to for business advice said, “Make sure you can explain all this in an elevator between the ground floor and the arriving on the first floor or else forget it.”

Our value proposition in plain English: We build/create things to make money.

More eloquently put, Slingshot identifies opportunities in businesses that new revenue streams such as sponsorship can be developed without having to change the direction or core focus of the business.  This creates partnerships and helps generate revenue for activity that is already being resourced.  It also opens up new audiences for your business to reach.

  • TIP 2: Use a cash flow

The number one failing of a business is not having enough cash flow.  Not only understanding how to put one together, but also using it to identify how to develop and grow your business moving forward.

With an educational background in finance, I thought I understood this fairly well, but a textbook understanding of cash flow and how it actually relates to your business turn out to be very different concepts when put into practice.  I’d highly recommend speaking to someone who has done it before and get them to help you tailor your cash flow to reflect your business objectives.

  • TIP 3: Shout about what makes you unique

If you are considering starting out on your own, I am assuming you already know what will make you different than your competitors.  If you don’t know, then it might be worth reconsidering whether or not you should be going it alone.
When you do know what you do better than the next guy, make sure to tell everyone you know.  This can be through your website, word of mouth, articles, profiles, credentials, your company blog and actively using social media such as Twitter.  Your unique selling point won’t ensure you’ll land every client that comes along, but it will help you get your foot in the door.

  • TIP 4: Outsource

Working until the wee hours of every night for the past year has not been my idea of fun, but I did anticipate it and assumed it was part of starting your own business.  However it did takes its toll, especially on tasks that I wasn’t particularly good at – such as invoicing and filing.  I finally made the decision to outsource some of our non-core activities and it has made a world of difference – allowing me to work on what I do best – being creative and building relationships between brands.

  • TIP 5: Love what you do

It is not always easy working in sponsorship and there can be a lot of rejection – both from prospective clients as well as prospective sponsors for projects you are involved with.  If you don’t love what you do, then you won’t make it past the long hours and what seems like an extraordinary amount of copywriting that I never knew existed (website, blog, articles, emails…) to find yourself sitting in the VIP room at the Hammersmith Apollo realising that you helped build this.  And hopefully in a month’s time admiring those first few awards in our office’s reception!

Make sure to keep track of our progress in Year 2, by signing up to our weekly eNewsletter & Facebook page.

How to Find the Right Sponsorship Agency 26th April, 2018

Finding the right sponsorship agency can be tricky. Each agency pitching for your business will be doing their utmost to convince you that they are the best people to help with all your sponsorship needs. But how do you make a decision that boosts your business, rather than one you live to regret?

To help you find a sponsorship agency that can deliver everything you need, here’s a list of eight questions you should ask any prospective agency. It’s important to ask these questions and get the answers at the outset, rather than a few months down the line when you’re wondering if you’ve picked the wrong sponsorship agency.

1. Where do you think we need help?

You probably have a fair idea of what you want from a sponsorship agency, but it’s a good idea to ask this question before you tell them exactly what you need for two reasons. Firstly, any prospective account manager can repeat your list of requirements to you, so putting the onus on them will give you a better idea of how well they understand your business and how much they’ve done their homework. Secondly, they may actually suggest some things you hadn’t thought of that should be added to your list of requirements. The sponsorship agency may offer a range of services beyond what you thought you needed, enabling you to get greater return from them than you had imagined.

2. Why do you think we’ve been unsuccessful in the past with getting or activating sponsorship?

This will tell you whether the sponsorship agency have gone to the trouble of looking at your past work and coming up with ideas on how they could improve it. If it becomes apparent that they’re just reeling off a list of standard services not tailored to your business, that’s a good indication that they haven’t put much effort into pitching for your business.

A good answer will give you confidence that the agency understand your business and how they can help it. It may even generate the first few tasks that you and the sponsorship agency need to tackle, assuming you start working together.

3. Do you have any clients with similar property rights to ours and how successful were you in helping them achieve their goals? 

Whether you operate in the fields of sport, fashion, entertainment or B2B, you need to be confident that the sponsorship agency understands your sector and has a good contacts network. Ask for specific examples of success backed up by quantifiable results. “We did some really great work with such-and-such client,” is not good enough.

4. How many people work at your sponsorship agency and how many of you will be working on my campaign? 

It doesn’t take a team of hundreds to manage a sponsorship relationship, but you need to ensure that your sponsorship agency has the resources necessary to manage your campaign effectively.

Find out whether you will have one dedicated account manager and point of contact. The last thing you want is to find yourself being passed around the sponsorship agency’s switchboard in your hour of need!

5. Who will be our account manager at the sponsorship agency?

Find out if the person you’re already dealing with will be your account manager going forward. If the agency person you initially meet won’t be your main contact, then insist that the account manager who will be gets involved with your discussions early on. You don’t want to commit to a relationship with someone you’ve never met!

You’ll need a strong working relationships with the person or people you’re trusting to manage your sponsorship programme. You don’t want to agree the deal with someone you have full faith in only to never see them again and find yourself dealing with someone you feel isn’t up to the task.

6. What measures will you put in place to track the success of our sponsorship campaign?

Agreeing the measurable KPIs at the outset is vital. It will help the sponsorship agency know exactly what you expect, and give you a fair idea of what they think they can achieve. It may require some back-and-forth or negotiation, but it will save a lot of trouble down the line.

There’s nothing worse than finding yourself arguing with your sponsorship agency that they haven’t hit their targets when they’re insistent that they have. Good targets equals good results.

7. Do you have existing contacts that would help secure sponsorship deals?

Ideally, the sponsorship agency will have plenty of existing relationships with companies that would be interesting in sponsorship opportunities around your business. Don’t expect them to list every name and number in their little black book, but you should at least have faith that they can open doors you can’t.

If they don’t have existing contacts in your sector, make sure you find out how they will build relationships and source prospective sponsors.

8. What are your sponsorship agency fees? 

Don’t be afraid to talk about money from the start. If the sponsorship agency are way beyond your budget, they’ll appreciate discovering this early on, rather than investing hours’ of work only to be told you can’t afford them.

The agency fees will obviously have an impact on your budget, but don’t necessarily opt for the cheapest offer on the table. Try to pick your sponsorship agency based on the potential ROI, rather than just the upfront cost. Work out what each prospective agency can deliver for you compared to how much they will charge and make your decision based on that.

Obviously you won’t want to spend more on agency fees than you can help to get back in increased business. This article on ‘How much revenue could my project earn through sponsorship?’ will help you make that judgment.

How SMEs can utilise Sponsorship to Grow 24th September, 2010

Sponsorship gives the impression that only international brands and high salary footballers can benefit from these strategies, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Sponsorship by its nature is a partnership opportunity for two organisations to create synergy.  Synergy creates savings for both businesses and so should really be something every company should undertake – especially in an economic climate such as ours.  Small businesses are even better organisations to undertake sponsorship initiatives as they are more flexible providing them the opportunity to leverage their sponsorship activation strategy when and as it is needed with the opportunities that arise.

Small Business Sponsors Supporting the Community

Sponsorship works for businesses who understand their target audience.  This needs to be the starting point.  Once you understand your target audience, you then have to consider where this audience communicates and how you can communicate with them.  Community sponsorship programmes are a great starting point, especially in the ways of sport.

Many school and community sporting events/teams are desperate for sponsorship to provide their athletes with new equipment.  Sponsoring these teams can be a cost-effective way to build brand awareness to your community.  This works especially well if you are a business who deals with customers within your area – such as restaurants, flower shops, etc.  If you considered the amount of people who are attending the games (both home and away!) and compare that to an advertisement spend in your local paper, I’m sure you will see the benefits.  In addition to providing a CSR programme for your company and its employees. 

Getting involved with community sponsorship programmes such as sport can also bring an additional element of staff engagement to your business.  If this is your objective, speak with the organisers of the event(s) you are sponsoring and see what opportunities you could create.  It might be that your local pizza shop provides pizza for the team when they have won a game or that your staff help out at practice.  This will give your staff the opportunity to be a part of something bigger – part of the community and part of your company – through your sponsorship.

Contra Agreements to Provide Your Services

Your business offers a great service or product which others need.  A great way to get involved with sponsorship with little investment would be to provide your services or products for free in return for sponsorship of an event/programme or perhaps your branding within their communications to their clients.  The key to choosing the right sponsorship contra agreement is to make sure that the event you are sponsoring and the sponsorship proposals you are considering have a large enough audience for you to gain the benefit of reaching them.

Another great example of SME sponsorship is from one of our current sponsors Phil Stannard Associates.  A small audio visual company, but with great potential, they approached the DMA Awards to get involved.  Through a contra deal, they are now the Judging Event Sponsors – an event that brings together 200 of the most influential people in the marketing industry during a four day event.  With no financial investment, they are able to showcase their services and their equipment to the people that are most likely to purchase from them in the future providing them significant ROI moving forward.

These are just a couple of the thousand ideas that are out there on how SME’s can integrate sponsorship within their organisation and utilise the benefits that many of the top brands receive, just at a smaller investment level.  If you ever need further sponsorship tips, be sure to check out our Top Sponsorship Tips on the Slingshot Sponsorship website.

Slingshot Sponsorship Signs New Client 27th August, 2010

Slingshot is happy to announce that they have been signed to manage the DPA & PPA Awards, held at De Vere in Brighton, 18 November 2010.

This innovative event brings together fantastic industry insight at the full-day conference in addition to the DPA Awards gala event in the evening.  The DPA Awards salute innovation and achievement by leading companies, teams and individuals across the data and digital publishing sectors.

Attracting senior data and digital professionals, this is a fantastic event to be a part of.  Slinghshot Sponsoship is working with both the DPA & PPA trade associations to fully leverage all available assets for sponsors.  New this year, we have introduced a range of tailored sponsorship proposals in order to build brand awareness to this unique audience.

For more information, please visit the DPA Awards site here or get in touch with Slingshot Sponosrship on: 08455 335 053.