Sponsorship can be a significant source of revenue for your association, but you have a lot of competition. To be successful, you need a great plan, a smart process and a powerful SVP (sponsor value proposition).
Sponsors are interested in partnering with your membership organization for one of two reasons:
- Because aligning their brand with yours increases their visibility or perceived value
- Because your members make or influence the buying decisions for their products or services
So you must provide a compelling case for one or both.
When done well, sponsorship is a business AND personal relationship and both partners benefit. Follow these 6 tips to build an maintain strong win-win relationships with you sponsors.
- DISTINGUISH YOURSELF: Know your organization, understand your brand, and be prepared to identify how that aligns with the sponsor’s needs.
- CREATE A STRONG OFFERING: Your sponsorship prospectus must be attractive, professional and informative. It must create a business case for an investment in your organization. Clearly define the return on the sponsor’s investment (ROI).
- Share relevant data including member demographic and purchasing information to demonstrate the “fit”.
- Define whether the sponsorship opportunity is event specific, year-round with multiple touch points or multi-year. Explain how they can maximize the opportunity.
- For many sponsors the golden ticket is a speaking engagement where they can showcase their expertise in a way that’s useful to your members.
- Provide a variety of entry-level to premium offerings that provide a good balance of visibility and direct contact with members. Consider the time required to secure the sponsors. Too many lower priced options take time away from securing higher value opportunities and may undervalue the whole program.
- KNOW YOUR SPONSORS: Understand their business goals and objectives. Tailor the sponsor package to meet their objectives.
- FOLLOW THEIR BUDGET CYCLE: Reach out to them when they’re planning their budget for the following year.
- IDENTIFY DECISION MAKERS: Understand the sponsors’ decision-making process and hierarchy, e.g., who are the buyers versus the influencers? What information do they require – particularly if your contact does not make the final decision? What are their business deliverables and how can your association make them look good and help them be successful?
- DEDICATE RESOURCES: Successful sponsorship management requires dedicated individuals who are skilled at sourcing, building and nurturing on-going relationships. This is not trivial. It takes time and effort to research qualified prospects; to develop an effective “pitch” with professional and comprehensive support materials; execute the value proposition; and provide necessary ongoing, personalized appreciation efforts and engagement that is mutually beneficial and facilitates long-term support.
Bottom line: Take this seriously. The more effort and professionalism you put into your sponsor program the more successful it will be.