These companies are looking for more market share, and by you offering exclusive access to your supporters (who will ideally be their target market) you can help them gain it over a period of time. They want to actively engage with your supporters and key stakeholders through all the ways that you communicate with them so that they can leverage the trusted and respected relationship you have developed with your community over the years. Long term partnerships like this can very often be highly successful for the corporate sponsor, your organisation and your followers.
When making an approach to the market leader however, the opportunity to communicate with your supporters and build brand awareness is often not as appealing. Let’s face it; (depending on the company) if they have the lion’s share of the market, then awareness and recognition of their brand is not something that they will necessarily be seeking. Brand protection and a deeper send of connection to their ideal customer might be higher on their agenda.
This is where your sponsorship approach can start to come unstuck if you aren’t prepared, or are new to sponsorship. Suddenly all the things you are offering aren’t of interest to your potential partner! What do you do then?
Well, before you hang up your gloves, there may be some things that you CAN offer that a company would be willing to pay for.
Have you considered offering a potential sponsor the opportunity to:
- Use your logo on their packaging? (Of course the wording will need to be discussed internally and agreed upon, but there are a number of options such as ‘Endorsed by <your organisation>’ or ‘Proud Supporters of <your organisation>’. You will definitely want to create an application process for something like this.)
- Undertake some exclusive research of your members? (This can be as simple as an online with a number of key questions that your sponsors want the answers to. Ideally this could part be of the annual membership survey that you already undertake to gain valuable demographic data about your community.) Remember – all research on undertaken on behalf of sponsors should be delivered and collated by you so that you remain in control of the content at all times. Do not, under any circumstances hand over your database to a sponsor.
- Take part in joint research projects? (You may have access to academics or researchers that the sponsor would be interested in collaborating with in order to gain more relevant and credible data that relates to their product and target market.)
- Offer a keynote or stream session speaking opportunity at your next conference or education series? (You would obviously only offer this option if you agreed that the sponsor had something to present that would be interesting, educational and of value to your audience).
The take home message here is to try and remain flexible. Having a communications strategy on offer for sponsors (that is, giving them access to all the ways you connect with your community) is a good place to start, but remember that one size does not fit all. The more flexible you are with how a sponsor can communicate their messages with integrity, the happier and more engaged for the long term your partners will be and the more money you will have to reinvest back into your organisation.