Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sponsorship: Edge out the competition

Part 2 – Perfecting your proposal

Posted by Janelle Rees

Last month we developed your answer to ‘what’s in it for my business?’ – so how can you turn that answer into an impressive sponsorship proposal?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Planning: Decide how much sponsorship you need to raise, both cash and in-kind. Then you can break the total into sponsorship packages of different amounts – meaning more businesses will be able to get involved. From there, decide who in your team is going to do what, and by when – and get started. Break the job into manageable tasks first and all of a sudden it won’t seem so hard.

2) Overall presentation: Make your proposal look professional but not gaudy. Businesses are trusting you with their brand – show them you care about yours. Triple check for spelling mistakes and formatting errors. Get someone else to look over it for typos. Remember not to go overboard with the glitz and glamour – you are asking for money, and an over-the-top proposal can signal that you’ve wasted resources where it wasn’t required.

Not so good on the computer? Find the best person on your committee for formatting the final document. Or see if you can approach a friend for a favour, or pay your high-school aged child a token amount to help you out.

3) Content: Clearly and systematically outline:

a. What the opportunity is for their business
b. What you want from them
c. Why you want it
d. What they’ll get in return
e. Who they should contact

Keep the content simple and neatly laid out. For business people time is a luxury – the quicker they can glean the information they need from your presentation the better.

4) Research: Before you head out and start door-knocking at local businesses, do your research. Decide who you want to target. Think about which businesses are likely to have clients who match your target audience – where are some synergies? Then find out who’s the best person in the business to contact. The quickest way to get turned down is to cold-call the receptionist – their job is to get between you and the people who make the decisions. Make sure you know who the decision makers are, and work hard to get through to them directly.

Before you turn up for the meeting, establish which one of your packages you think the business can afford, and consider only offering them one or two sponsorship options. If they are spoiled with choices they’ll generally choose the cheaper option.

Most importantly, keep in mind you only have one chance for a first impression. By doing your research, putting together packages that truly offer value for local business and presenting them with a clear and professional presentation you’ll ensure your first impression develops into a beneficial and long-lasting business relationship.

* * *

Oh, and as marketing guru Seth Goodin says on his blog, don’t forget about your existing sponsors. Each year is an opportunity to consolidate your existing sponsor relationships. Make sure they get first choice at new opportunities. Keep in regular contact with them throughout your planning. Ask for their feedback when developing new packages. Nothing will turn them from sponsors to ex-sponsors quicker than seeing the new kid on the block getting a better deal than they are.

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