Responsible for developing external partnerships for your organization? Whether you are brand new to sponsorship sales or a few years in and simply looking for new tips on how to improve your proposal technique, you’ve come to the right place.
At Winmo, we work with some of the nation’s leading sports teams, nonprofit organizations and event hosts by providing them with accurate brand decision-maker contact information, alongside forecasted sponsorship insights to help them identify timely partnership opportunities.
With so many people trying to get a piece of a brand’s marketing budget these days it’s more important than ever to make sure your pitch is getting into the hands of the right person at the right time. To help, we are sharing insider details on how our most successful clients find partnership opportunities long before their competitors, and also techniques that have helped them build sponsorship proposals that convert new partners.
What Is A Sponsorship Proposal & Why Is It Important?
For those of you who are new to the game, you might be asking, “what exactly is a sponsorship proposal?” To put it simply, a sponsorship proposal is a formal proposal that clearly outlines how your business can offer additional value to an organization, or help them meet particular deliverables through a partnership. Whether you seek sponsors for your cause, event, sports team or organization, partnerships are an excellent source of funding.
So, how do you begin building a tailor-made sponsorship proposal that will bring in major sponsors for your event, cause or organization? Keep reading as we show you step-by-step how to build a winning sponsorship proposal.
Pre-Sponsorship Proposal Checklist
Way too many sponsorship sellers just blast a ton of companies with a “one-size- fits- all” proposal and call it a day. We can’t stress this enough- this approach will not produce significant results! To get on the radar of those brands you really want to work with, you will need to take a more strategic approach and some preparation is in order. Here are three steps to complete before crafting and sending off your next proposal.
Step 1: Identifying Potential Partners
Before you can build a tailored proposal, you will need to identify ideal sponsorship partners by narrowing down the companies that might be a good fit for your cause, event or organization. You can determine who might be a qualified partner by answering these three questions:
- Which brands might want to sell to your audience?
Brands have one goal in mind – getting in front of and converting their target audience. As someone selling sponsorship, it’s your job to convince them that your organization can do just that. So how do you find the brands that align with your audience? Successful sponsorship sellers leverage technologies to do the heavy lifting for them. Winmo’s sales intelligence platform lets you build custom brand lists using demographics and even planning periods so you can match audiences to when they’re spending. Alerts also allow you to get notified in real-time when brands have specifically opened up spend towards sponsorship so you can nail the timing of your outreach.
- What job title are you targeting?
Once you’ve identified the brands you’re going to target next is knowing exactly who to connect with. While marketing is typically the go-to decision makers when it comes to sponsorship, other departments to look into might include public relations, community affairs, public affairs or supplier diversity. Again, technologies can help you work more efficiently here as well. Winmo empowers sponsorship sellers to quickly search and export titles like: VPs and Directors of Sponsorships, Sports Marketing Executives, Event Marketing Managers, Experiential and Lifestyle Marketing Contacts, Brand Managers, Sponsorship Coordinators, Entertainment Marketing Managers and more.
- Who partners with your competitors?
Another quick way to scope out potential new sponsors is to see who your competitor’s current partners are. Simply go to their websites and evaluate who is investing sponsorship dollars with them.
If you’re unable to gather intel from their website another alternative is leveraging Winmo. Clients can quickly see exactly which brands are partnering with their competitors via integration with HookIt. Here you’ll be able to see percentages of sponsorship spend across teams, leagues, venues, and events – with additional data on specific partnerships and sample promotions.
Take a look:
Step 2: Research Your Prospects
Now that you have an idea of which brands might be good partners, it’s time to do some homework to determine if your organization’s vision and revenue goals align with theirs. This starts with research.
Extended research will allow you to find commonalities between your organization and the space they work within. Then, your pitch can justify how you and your team have partnered with similar organizations within their realm of work.
When conducting your research, you will want to find the answers to the following questions:
- What perceptions are they trying to change about their brand?
- What behaviors are they trying to encourage or diminish?
- Do they stand for something or do they stand against something?
- What markets are they trying to influence or get in front of?
Here are the channels you should be taking a look at to research a potential sponsor:
- Company & Brand Websites
If you want to create a proposal that will stand out from the rest, you need to show the decision-maker that you truly understand the nature of their business. Often times, a company will have a multitude of brands- make sure you do your research on those as well. Typically each brand will have its own marketing or sponsorship staff so keep that in mind when identifying the decision-maker.
- Social Media
Whether a brand is B2B or B2C, it’s likely you will find them on multiple social media channels. Typically you can quickly access these links in the footer of their website, or run a quick Google search. Take a peek at who’s following them to get a better idea of who their audience might be. You can also utilize hashtags to determine what people might be saying about them online.
Of course, never forget about old faithful! Run a Google search to keep up with what’s going on with the brand. Are they receiving any new funding? Exploring new target audiences? Hiring for any significant team members? These are just a few of the six triggers that indicate it’s prime time to reach out about sponsorship opportunities. Using this information in your proposal will help ensure that your pitch resonates with the potential sponsor and answers their biggest pain points.
Step 3: Determine the Benefits You Can Offer
When the marketer is looking over your sponsorship proposal they are looking to answer one question, “what’s in it for my company?” So the main question you need to answer when writing your proposal is, “what value can my organization offer this company?”
Here are a few essential questions to ask yourself:
- Can you help expand brand visibility to current or new target audiences?
- Will you help the brand reach a highly targeted group of people?
- Can your event, cause or team help enhance the brand’s consumer perception?
- Will a partnership with you ultimately drive qualified leads for the brand?
- Is there an opportunity for the brand to generate revenue throughout the partnership?
- Can the partnership impact the brand’s commitment to a cause that is close to its heart?
- Will partnering with you help the brand generate great content?
- Will the sponsorship generate a worthwhile ROI for the brand?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, be sure to hone in on how partnering with your organization can help the brand reach these deliverables throughout your proposal.
What To Include When Building Your Sponsorship Proposal
Finally, you’ve identified your prospective sponsors and you’ve done your research- now it’s time for the exciting part, actually building out your proposal!
At this point, you know your proposal needs to be personalized, it needs to identify the decision-maker’s pain points and provide solutions to those problems- but what actually needs to be included in your sponsorship proposal?
Page 1: A Proposal Letter
The first thing you will want to include in your sponsorship proposal is a formal letter. A sponsorship proposal letter briefly highlights the topics that will be covered in more depth throughout the entire package. This includes who you are, what you are offering the potential sponsor, and how the partnership will benefit their organization.
Page 2: A Description of Your Audience
You’re likely prospecting potential sponsors who align well with your audience, so make sure you highlight this benefit first. Sponsorship is all about the exposure, so if your opportunity can help a brand get in front of its desired target demographics, you are encouraged to lead with that sales point.
Page 3: A Description of the Opportunity
You will want to keep this short and to the point- two paragraphs maximum. First, you will want to discuss your event, cause, team or brand. Next, describe the opportunity itself and how collaborating with you will be beneficial.
Page 4: Display Sample Activations
Most sellers offer “Gold, Silver, and Bronze” sponsorship levels because it’s easy- and potential sponsors know it. Tier level sponsorship packages give brands the impression that you don’t really understand what they are trying to accomplish, and if you did, your package would be customized to fit those needs.
Remember those four questions you were trying to answer in the research phase? This is where you have the opportunity to present a menu of options that will help them achieve those goals with the partnership. Let them know that these options are simply suggestions and that you are flexible.
Page 5: Testimonials From Past Sponsors
If you’re like most companies, 87% of your clients are willing to give you a testimonial – but only 10% of companies ever asked for one. It is highly encouraged that you reach out to past clients for some form of advocacy. One of the best ways to prove value in a sponsorship proposal is to rely on past partners to speak about the experience they personally had.
Sure, you can talk about how great you are, but it means a lot more coming from a third party. Sponsorship and marketing decision-makers do not want to feel like they are being sold, so outside endorsements make for great workarounds. But keep in mind, the people signing off on your proposal want to see numbers, so make sure these testimonials go beyond the surface and include details around actual results and ROI.
Page 6: A Contact Page
This is your call-to-action, so do your best to make it intriguing and encourage a “next-step” conversation. Make it obvious that nothing in this proposal is set in stone, rather a conversational tool to have a deeper discussion. This is not where you ask them to make a payment or “pull the trigger” on the deal. Your proposal won’t sell the opportunity for you, the relationship you build with the decision-maker will.
Pitching Your Sponsorship Package
Now that you have your perfected proposal, you need to make sure they answer the phone or open their email so you can get it in front of them. But decision-maker’s inboxes are flooded with proposals daily, so how do you make yours stand out from the rest?
- Write a Compelling Email Subject Line
Since 20% of people check their email at least five times a day, naturally, this is a go-to form of communication for sales professionals. But what good is an email if you can’t get your prospect to open it? According to Convince&Convert, 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone, so it is imperative that yours captures their attention. Have some subject line ideas but not sure how they will perform? A/B test them and see which one gets the most opens- then start using that winning subject line moving forward. Coschedule also has a great tool that will grade and provide feedback on how to improve your subject lines. Check it out here and be sure to bookmark it for later!
- Make Your Messaging Personable
You’re a human and so is your prospect, what do you both have in common? You hate being sold to; take that into consideration when writing your messaging. If your email sounds like a script, it’s going to turn your prospect away. Besides, you’ve done your research and you know their business needs so craft messaging that proves it! For example, if the marketer you are reaching out to is new to the role, start your message off by congratulating them on the new position before jumping into your sales spiel.
- Talk Numbers
At the end of the day, decision-makers want to hear the numbers. They have people to report to and if there is no ROI, there is no budget to support their ideas. If you have them, throw in some statistics to peak their interest and initiate a response.
- Be Persistent
Don’t lose patience or get frustrated when reaching out to prospects. The follow-up is so important. According to sources, 80% of conversations don’t happen until the fifth outreach and 44% of sellers give up after just one follow up. That means that nearly half of your competition is giving up after just two outreach attempts. For maximum success, remain persistent in following up multiple times and through a variety of touchpoints.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Pick Up the Phone
Phone calls are still an effective form of communication despite what others might say. In fact, 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone. With the average business person receiving an average of 115 emails per day, a phone call might be exactly what you need to do in order to stand out from the competition. At first, it can be uncomfortable picking up the phone and making a call, but it just takes some practice. After all, the sponsorship business is a relationship business and hearing the sound of someone’s voice is much more impactful than reading some words they typed up on a screen.
As mentioned above, sponsorship is all about relationships. So, get to know your corporate sponsors before asking them for money. Try asking them to lunch or messaging them on LinkedIn prior to sending your proposal so you can get acquainted. Or, take it a step further and ask the decision-maker to visit your organization or attend a special event as your guest.
You now know how to find your ideal prospects, how to craft a proposal that will speak to them and most importantly, how to get your sponsorship package in front of them. By following these steps you will be able to maximize your sales efforts and close major partnerships that will represent your event, cause, team or brand most effectively.