expert post | the ins & outs of sponsorship

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today we have an awesome guest post from our expert partner Nicole Leedham from Black Coffee Communication. she is helping us with finding sponsors for your site, event, product launch etc. this information is so helpful, thank you nicole!

So you’ve got a brilliant idea for a conference, networking event, webinar, product launch, unique service, whatever... - but you need a cash injection.

You immediately think of sponsorship. After all, you’re sure some companies wouldn’t even miss the small amount you need, so how can they say “no”?

Well, very easily actually. What you need to remember is, like advertising, flyers, events and more, sponsorship is part of a company’s marketing mix, which means you need to show a good return on investment (ROI) before most companies will even consider your pitch.

Even those companies that support charitable organisations are doing it because their market research has shown that by being a good corporate citizen, they will improve their own bottom line.

(Although, that said, I did once work for a large utility company that had two “sponsorship” cost codes, one for marketing and one for donations – such as to local schools, community groups and so on. The latter was not subject to the same scrutiny as the former with regards to ROI – but the amount available was also considerably less.)

All that aside, by now you are probably wondering what you can do to show this elusive ROI and catch a potential sponsor’s attention.

Here’s a few tips.

  1. As with developing a media kit for your business, focus on what’s in it for the sponsor, rather than for you. So instead of saying, “your $$ will help me attend a conference in Sydney to promote my wares”, say “In return for your $$$, you will get exposure via web advertising, promotion on my blog, social media shout outs etc etc)
  2. Give the potential sponsor some options. So, for example, $100 will get them a shout out on your FB page with 5000 followers; $200 will get them the shout out plus a logo on your website with a link to their company; $300 will get them both the above plus editorial in your newsletter which goes to 7000 subscribers. And do your research to ensure your audience is also their potential customers.
  3. Check your potential sponsors’ websites to see what other organisations they sponsor. They might even have sponsorship guidelines or sponsorship application forms. This could help shape your proposal.
  4. Be aware that most organisations have some kind of matrix that they will use to work out the ROI on a sponsorship, and by doing some background work and offering options (or even the chance to tailor-make a sponsorship package) you might be able to hazard a guess at whether your request will meet the criteria.
  5. Remember that companies usually budget on a financial year and that a large amount of the sponsorship bucket will be already committee year to year. If you need a substantial amount of money – or even if you only need a bit – you have to think ahead. In most instances budgets are planned and set around early February for board endorsement in March and implementation on July 1. Only a small amount is reserved for one-off sponsorships (or donations). So if you approach a company in September for an event in November, you are likely to get a knockback. It pays to think about a year ahead, especially if you need the big bucks. Even the big organisations I have worked for don’t have a lazy $10,000 sitting around in the middle of a financial year.

I hope all this helps you in your quest to seek sponsorship dollars. If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer as best I can.

Nicole Leeham is the owner of her own little biz: Black Coffee Communications. She specializes in helping small to medium businesses with writing, editing, marketing, public relations and media.

do you have a PR/media/advertising question for nicole. post it or send us an email. your question could become the next 'ask the expert' post!