You may not look at other For-Purpose organisations that do similar things as competition (and if you are not, then you absolutely should be!) but it is safe to say that your event, organisation or sponsorship opportunity could be competing with potentially hundreds of others also looking for corporate investment.
Coupled with the fact that companies are being spoilt for choice in terms of which organisations and sponsorship properties they can align with, the problem is that the majority of For-Purpose organisations are not putting their ‘best foot forward’ when creating a first impression. Let’s be clear, you DO only have one chance at making a good first impression.
Due to the constant constraints you face every day (time, resources and budget), when it comes to seeking and engaging the ideal corporate partner, the natural temptation can be to send out a swath of generic proposals to businesses you think might be interested in investing in you, so that you can then turn your attention to other important matters whilst you wait for the calls and emails replying to your proposal.
The cold hard truth about sponsorship is that speaking with a company before you send them a proposal will elevate you into the minority of For-Purpose organisations seeking sponsorship. Taking the time to be curious about what a company might be hoping to achieve by partnering with you and asking what sponsors want, should be the norm, not the exception.
After that first conversation, some companies will be happy to receive a generic-type proposal so they can see who you are and what you offer, before they delve into further details. (My one caveat on this type of proposal is that you never include the price. This document should be a point of negotiation, rather than a way for a company to make a decision not to partner with you before you’ve had a chance to meet with them and explain the opportunity.) Others will want specific things from a partnership from the outset – that’s a great opportunity to meet with them and get to know what they are trying to achieve from investing in your organisation – so take the time to tailor your offering.
There’s no doubt that calling first works. Apart from the benefits of making a potentially valuable connection that can exponentially increase the chances of your proposal being read; by calling a company before you send your proposal, you can learn a host of things:
- What the best timing of your sponsorship proposal is – approx 50% of marketing budgets are organised between September-November every year.
- Who is the best person to speak with?
- Whether or not they are even interested in aligning with your organisation or event?
- An indication of what to charge/their budget allocation for sponsorship?
- The future direction of their company/product range?
- What is your potential sponsor hoping to achieve? What are their objectives from a partnership?
- Are they looking for increased brand awareness/ profile/ brand protection?
- Do they want a ‘warm’ introduction to a market they are not currently doing business with?
- How do they hope to influence purchasing behavior to increase their sales?
- How do they value the credibility a partnership offers (a connection with your impeccable brand)?
- Do they understand the value of the ‘perceived’ endorsement a partnership with you provides?
Next time you are considering seeking partners for your event or organisation, don’t be tempted by the false economies of just getting a bunch of generic proposals out the door.
Doing homework saves you time.
It’s much better to send proposals out to 10 companies that are expecting them, than have to follow up on 150 generic ones that often don’t reach the decision maker in the first place!