Top 3 Tips When Prospecting For Sponsorship Sales 19th September, 2018


All too often, people in the sponsorship industry dive into sales headstrong, without proper justification behind each of their approaches. This leads to poor performance and a lack of interest from prospects and can be avoided simply by taking the time to identify fit.


The role of a sponsorship sales professional is to prove value through sponsorship to the brand they are approaching. It is crucial that before starting to sell sponsorship, key research is undertaken and brands are targeted which align closely to the specific assets, and have the best fit with the specific demographic.


Below are Slingshot’s top three tips when prospecting brands.


  • Visualise the audience experience: The first step before doing anything is to brainstorm the experience an attendee will get and to then understand how a brand would want to engage. This paints a picture as to which industries and brands would benefit the most from sponsoring and which might improve the experience for attendees.


  • Zeroing in on targets: Armed with an idea of what industries to consider, build a prospect list based on the synergies between specific brands and the demographic. The main point of sponsorship is to enable a brand to access an audience they couldn’t target otherwise, or to showcase that by engaging in sponsorship they can do this in a cost-effective way. It is important to consider what new products and services a brand is offering and how these can be integrated.


  • What’s the hook. With a solid prospect list in hand, outlining a tailored approach for each prospective client based on their current marketing objectives is essential before picking up the phone. A good tip is to think of 3 key points as to why the brand in question should become a sponsor. Pair the brands objectives with specific assets and use these assets to showcase how they solve a brands problem. For example; a consumer electronic brand is trying to increase it’s B2B capabilities and engage more with senior-decision makers in large organisations. The rights holder has a database (GDPR compliant of course…) of decision makers that would be the perfect potential clients of this brand, therefore the sales pitch becomes about utilising this database to engage and create new leads for the brand – something they couldn’t do without sponsorship.


It is essential to perform this research before diving in to sponsorship sales. It will ensure that the rights holder will understand what the sell is to each brand, and can therefor tailor their approach, solving a problem and not just asking for money.


At Slingshot we pride ourselves on the fact that each call is tailored for that brand in order to add real value to their marketing spend, and satisfy their marketing objectives. It is this highly tailored and specific sales strategy which has led to our impressive roster of clients, and testimonials which praise our “attention to detail”.


If you are looking for advice on sponsorship sales or any aspect of the sponsorship industry, we would be more than happy to offer our expertise, please email [email protected] with any enquiries.

Sports Sponsorship: More Than Just Branding 25th January, 2012

Ever since Kettering Town became the first English football club to host a sponsor Kettering Tyres – across their ‘famous’ red and white shirts, in 1976, corporate sponsors have been obsessed with branding. Every sport, from snowboarding to horse riding, is full of brands trying to get the most prominent position on a racer’s helmet or the best placed advertising board on any given sports field around the world.

The most pertinent example I can find of such blatant logo blasting is FX Pro’s sponsorship of Fulham – signed chiefly so the foreign exchange broker could have its logo streaked across the roof of Fulham’s home ground, which lies directly along the Heathrow flightpath.  A multi million pound deal, just so people flying in from Beijing can see your company emblem.  No message explaining what they do, how they do it or what their company ethos is – JUST the logo.

And for years this type of marketing has worked.

Exposing customers to logos has been a tried and tested formula, creating profit for brands for decades.  But in today’s market, where we are constantly blasted with logos of innumerable brands – many of which we don’t even recognize – is it enough?  And from a sponsor’s perspective, is it even worth it?

In today’s world a simple logo is no longer enough – it does not convey enough about your company to make a positive impression on the consumer.  With marketing budgets being slashed, brands are being forced to ENGAGE with their target audience, to ensure resonance.  Well-executed sponsorship activations can do just this.  They bridge the communication gap, allowing the target audience to experience exactly what the brand has to offer.  For the rights owner, such sponsorship deals offer the opportunity to provide a richer and more complete experience to their audience.

Whilst many sponsor relationships remain stuck in this branding culture (especially within sports sponsorship), some brands and rights owners are leading the way through truly innovating sponsorship campaigns.  One of the most forward thinking approaches is the partnership between Spanish giants Real Madrid and network provider Cisco Systems.  The agreement will see the installation of Cisco’s high-density Wi-Fi system at Madrid’s home stadium – Santiago Bernabeu – allowing fans to:

  1. Access specifically designed applications through their smartphones, encouraging them to engage directly with the Santiago Bernabeau.
  2. Watch Hi-Definition screens throughout the ground that will broadcast replays, highlights and interviews exclusively to those in the stadium.
  3. Utilise social media – encouraging match-goers to share tweets of their match day experience with those at the stadium and those around the world.

Whilst there is an argument from die-hard fans that such technological progressions may detract from the atmosphere on match-days, I actually think it has the potential to enhance it.  I’m not advocating everyone sitting on their iPhones, tweeting for 90 minutes.  Rather, at half-time or during injury stoppages people in the ground can watch a replay of a missed opportunity they couldn’t see clearly; get information about a new player; or even find out the words to a chant they weren’t aware of – meaning they can actively contribute to and thus improve the atmosphere in the ground.

Another interesting approach to sponsorship within the realm of football has been the recent  partnership between Manchester City & EA Sports.  Both partners have fully embraced the relationship, making user-interaction a far more engaging and rewarding experience both at match days and online.  A few examples of the activation have included:

  1. A virtual launch of the club’s kit for the 2011-2012 season, exhibited by a computer generated Manchester City eleven.
  2. Full motion capture of the Manchester City squad, making player movement even more realistic – resulting in Manchester City being the most commonly used team by online FIFA 2012 players around the world.
  3. A proposal to use FIFA statistics to simulate upcoming Manchester City matches.

All interesting stuff, however the innovation of this campaign lies in the way users are directed to the data.  The plan is to deliver the latest software – Sergio Aguero’s new haircut, up-to-date statistics, or the new Manchester City away kit – to users via smartphone, be it using a personalized QR code or the RFID chip on the back of fan’s membership cards.  Once the code is scanned, the fan receives unique FIFA 2012 data, which they can then trade with other consumers.  Friends could swap them via smartphone, match-goers could swap them at a game and online users could swap them over Facebook.  While EA Sports and Manchester City would create the initial software, the fans would be tasked with sharing the data – taking the EA Sports and Manchester City brand into a more social setting.

Although football sponsors have the tendency to simply ‘brand’ everything, Formula 1 sponsors are undoubtedly more culpable: every driver, every car and every available space is awash with corporate sponsors.  Such branding may still be effective to a point, but some companies are realizing that they can get so much more out of their sponsorship.  A perfect example of this realization is the ‘Step Inside the Circuit’ campaign, produced from Johnnie Walker’s sponsorship of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racing team.

Viewers are directed to branded content via Johnnie Walker’s Facebook page, where they are then transported to the hustle and bustle of a Formula 1 track.   Users can mingle with the other drivers, check out the last minute adjustments to the cars or take a spin around the track to experience what it’s like for Lewis Hamilton or Sebastien Vettel on race day.  To further personalize the experience, photos are taken from the user’s Facebook, along with webcam input and text-to-speech technology.  The campaign culminates with 20 competition winners being taken to Silverstone for three days of training, finishing with VIP tickets to the Grand Prix itself.

It is still unclear, which of these different sponsorship channels will prevail and prove to be most rewarding for a partnership in the long-term.  Many of these alliances are still in their infancy and it is impossible to tell if anyone has already found a winning formula.  However what is clear is that, if done correctly, there are substantial gains to be made for the sponsors, right owners and fans themselves:

  1. Sponsors better engage with their audience and promote their brand
  2. Rights owners can offer a richer and more varied experience to their brand/event
  3. Fans receive a more interactive and diverse experience.

From what we’ve seen, it is clear that future sponsors cannot rely simply on branding alone.

Experiential: 3 Ways to Maximise Your Assets 20th January, 2012

With the London 2012 Olympics fast approaching we are due an influx of experiential campaigns in 2012. With headline sponsors of P&G, Coke and McDonald’s taking the majority of the London 2012 marketing opportunities – both in sponsorship as well as ramped up advertising campaigns, other brands will be engaging in shorter term experiential marketing to capitalise on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Experiential marketing at its basics is a live brand marketing campaign allowing consumers to experience the product through their senses.  It occurs in real time and is a two way communication between the brand and consumer – creating a lasting connection with the brand, which is then amplified through other marketing channels. Experiential activation offers a great way to showcase a brand’s products, or simply demonstrate what the company can offer with immediate feedback.  Some examples of experiential campaigns we’ve run include Tracker’s Photo Booth for the What Car Awards 2012 and the EA Sports’ Game Hub at the London Irish Rugby Club’s St. Patricks Day Party.

Maximising Assets for Experiential Sponsorship Campaigns

1) Brand Positioning

With immediate feedback, experiential activities first need to ensure their audience is the right audience to be receiving feedback from.  Ensure that you are very clear who the target audience is first and then decide how best to reach them and more importantly where to reach them.

Being relevant to the right consumers will provide both the correct feedback, but also will enable you to drive the communications further through additional marketing campaigns.

2) Engagement is Essential

You have to be engaging in activity consumers can relate to and want to engage with. The message and positioning should be clear and concise ensuring cut through.  Providing people an experience that is on brand for the experiential activation, on brand for the company and also on brand for the sponsorship platform will create a cohesive message with all parties building resonance with the audience.

3) Make it Last

Even if your experiential activity is a one-off campaign, ensure you are making the most of it and that you have resources to support this.  If the objective is to create a viral campaign through the experiential activity, do not forget to include a social strategy that will drive this communication forward through user networks and your own company network through user generated content, videos, competitions, etc.

“We Have a Great Cause, Why Aren’t We Securing Sponsors?” 4th April, 2011

Charity Sponsorship: Top 3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Selling

I am often asked to provide consultancy to charities on how they can make their sponsorship propositions more attractive to brands.  The charities are often well known and have great causes – with well-planned and well-attended events.  Understandably, it’s difficult to understand why more brands aren’t getting involved. 

After experience and investigation with a number of our charity clients, I’ve discovered that there are some very simple tips to help make charity sponsorship proposals more attractive to secure sales.

1.  Is your sponsorship package worth what you are asking? 

Just because you need a certain amount, that doesn’t mean that your package is worth that amount.  Far too often I see sponsorship proposals that are clearly not valued based on their tangible benefits.  Of course there is a certain amount of association with the charity that is ‘priceless’, but this is not the sole (or even usually the key) reason marketing directors will align their brand to your cause.  However, the weight of sponsorship investment is assumed to be the majority of the charity association with media assets such as PR and print ads ‘thrown in’.  This is definitely not the approach to take when putting together your sponsorship proposition.  Marketing directors are a savvy bunch and they want to see tangible benefits to prove effectiveness.  Which brings me to my second point…

2.  Marketing directors are busy

Marketing directors receive thousands of proposals, opportunities, and ideas that they can choose from to promote their brand.  Your sponsorship proposal is not only competing with other charity proposals, but also all the other available marketing platforms that the brand can align themself to.  It is a cluttered market and you have to be clear and transparent.  Although beautiful powerpoint presentations with great pictures tend to look great – they make for impractical sponsorship proposals. 

Of course the sponsorship proposal will depend on your programme as this format can be effective for selling emotive campaigns.  However, more often than not, it is rarely the most suitable option.

3.  Make more time

Charities tend to work with limited resources and find it difficult to put all the plans in place well in advance.  As such, they don’t start approaching sponsors until they have all of the event information confirmed – typically 3 months before the event takes place.  This is typically the time they think it is appropriate to approach sponsors.

Although the event could be absolutely ideal for a brand’s positioning and objectives, very few brands have spare funds within their marketing budget or the additional resource to make use of the opportunity.  Marketing budgets are typically planned at least 1 year in advance.  Regardless of how much they may want to get involved, they will not have the budget to do so. 

As such, charities need to either:

a) start working on the events plan earlier,

b) start approaching brands earlier, or

c) aim to only secure sponsorship for the annual events that have a clear direction and plan in place.

We have recently signed some great charity clients (such as Mencap) and will be blogging more charity sponsorship tips throughout the year.  Make sure to check back often or subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss anything!

The Bribery Act's Implications on Sponsorship 17th March, 2011

If you weren’t yet aware, there is a battle in the UK on the draft Bribery Act, currently under review by the coalition government.  Should this act go through, it would have implications on the sponsorship industry.

Some key implications under the Bribery Act:

  • Will introduce a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
  • Make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures covers bribery of a foreign public official.
  • Increase the maximum penalty for bribery from 7 – 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

Think!Sponsorship has teamed up with leading sponsorship lawyers Farrer & Co to poll the sponsorship industry regarding the Act and the use of hospitality.

Check out the session on hospitality and the Bribery Act at the upcoming conference on the 12th April 2011.  The session and the results of the poll should give both sponsors and rights holders an accurate idea of how to ensure they are compliant with the proposed Act and to discuss how corporate hospitality might stray into bribery.

Please make sure to participate by taking the survey here.

Results of which will be made available at the end of March 2011.

My 15 Minutes of Fame on the London Hotspots Blog 7th March, 2011

I recently was interviewed for the London Hotspots Blog with Executive Offices Group.  The London Hotspots blog has the best of business advice, entertainment, travel, food and drink from across the capital so make sure to check it out.

My interview was a great experience and gave me an opportunity to talk more about the great things we are doing with Slingshot Sponsorship and our newest client campaigns.

They asked everything from the best piece of business advice I had ever received down to what we are planning for 2011 and beyond.  I thought I’d give a little sneak peek on our blog with one of their questions on what our average week is like, but you can check out the entire interview here.

What is an average week like for the MD of Slingshot?
There is no average work week for me. Things change all the time and we constantly have to be flexible to meet the needs of our clients and our business. This is one of the best things about what we do. Some weeks involve attending a lot of client events – anything from black-tie balls at the Grosvenor House Hotel to high profile breakfast events in the City. Other weeks can involve white board strategy planning and briefing in creative work for new sponsorship proposals.

As we typically start working with clients at integration stage – with them having little experience in sponsorship – and then taking them to delivery, we can be at many different stages with different clients. This means that one day might be spent tweaking copy for benefits in a sponsorship proposal for one client and the next day spent on the phone setting up meetings to discuss how brands can get involved with our client’s media assets. The variety of our day to day work makes working at Slingshot Sponsorship exciting.

Need a Sponsorship Sales Consultant? Top 10 Things to Ask Yourself 21st February, 2011

The need for sponsorship sales consultants is apparent everywhere.  On almost every LinkedIn Group, Twitter feed, and on numerous email requests I see people looking for someone who can sell their property rights.  Considering money can be hard to come by, I understand the reasons why this is now one of the most sought after positions.  However, there are things that you should consider and things you need to be aware of before you take someone on.

In this blog, I’ll explain the Top 10 Things You Should Ask Yourself before considering hiring a sponsorship sales agency or consultant. There are variations of sponsorship consultants – those that work on commission-only, those that work on tactical, those that work with sports personalities, and many more variations.

In this first blog of a series, we’ll start by looking at whether you even need one and if you do, can you support one?

  1. Do you need a sponsorship sales consultant?  If you have enough resource and staff with a good knowledge of both your property and an idea of what sponsorship can achieve, then you might not even need a sponsorship sales consultant.  If you don’t have this, then…
  2. Can you outsource sponsorship sales to another sales department?  Sometimes this can be disastrous – most often when the media ad sales team tries to take this task on.  However, sometimes all it needs is a bit of sponsorship sales training and the right sponsorship proposals for your media ad sales teams to hit the ground running.
  3. Do you understand sponsorship strategy?  If you are unsure about what sponsorship assets you own and how to package them, typically you will need more than just a sponsorship sales consultant, you will need a sponsorship agency to valuate rights, put together a strategy and do the research.
  4. Do you know if your property rights can be sold?  History is a great way to understand what rights you have and if there is a market for them.  However, many rights owners are just starting to integrate these strategies and are unsure of whether it can be done.  As such, you really should determine the evaluation of the rights first before you waste time and resource in outsourcing sales that haven’t been strategically developed in the first place.  You should evaluate your sponsorship rights before even considering hiring a sponsorship sales consultant.
  5. Is sponsorship an organisational goal?  Sponsorship takes a lot of time and effort (even if sales are outsourced) within an organisation.  If it is not an organisational goal, it will often get left behind and sales (whether done internally or externally) will not be successful.  It takes a whole organisation to support this activity and the resource should not be underestimated.  However saying that, sponsorship can help drive organisational change and innovation – we just suggest that everyone is behind the idea before you get started.
  6. Are there politics within offering sponsorship?  Sponsorship can sometimes be a tricky thing to integrate due to politics.  Sponsorship sales consultants who are not involved with the strategy may not appreciate these constraints without having a more long-term approach to working with your rights.
  7. Do you have senior staff and/or board members who will be against new sponsors coming on board?  If this is the case, it will be difficult to get sponsors involved and those that do get involved with have difficulty activating their sponsorship and will not renew, making your sponsorship unsustainable.
  8. Do you understand your objectives with integrating sponsorship?  Sponsorship not only can become a new revenue stream, it can also reduce costs.  This is a great avenue, especially for new property rights and needs to be considered when approaching brands.  Understanding the objectives and all the benefits you can achieve through sponsorship is important before hiring consultants so you can measure performance against KPIs.
  9. Do you have enough time?  Sponsorship tends to be an afterthought when budgets haven’t been met.  This creates a situation of distress sales and can often be detrimental to the rights owners.  This needs to be communicated carefully and sales need to be strategically thought out.
  10. Do you know who to go to?  Putting out random messages on social networks is not the best way to find sponsorship sales consultants.  You need recommendations from people who have worked with them or have done the research.  As mentioned, it is quite easy to call yourself a sponsorship sales consultant because so many people are in need.  However, you need to do due diligence to ensure your programme is not dependent on people who cannot do the job.

Further to Question 10, we’ve had so many properties looking for consultants so we’ve put together an industry roster of sponsorship sales consultants.  If you every need advice, please email [email protected] with your brief, property rights, and location and we will try and pair you up with a consultant that is most relevant to what you are looking to achieve.

For any sponsorship sales consultants who want to be on our roster, please check out this blog in order to qualify.