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Brett De Hoedt

Brett de Hoedt interview – part 3

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Enjoy part 3 of my interview with Brett de Hoedt of Hootville Communications.

In part 2 of the interview we covered topics including:

  • Provide unique experiences
  • Get their bloody attention!
  • Pursue multiple targets at one time

Provide lots of options to say yes

Kym: So position to say lots of yeses. But should you be discussing budget with them? Should you find out what their budget is or are you better off just saying, “This is the value that you’re going to receive,” and stick to that?

Brett: I think the latter. Give them lots of different options, from a small buy-in to a large buy-in. I am not sure, but I think plenty of times, especially at smaller potential sponsors, they might sponsor you X or they might sponsor you four times that much depending on how much they like you and relate to you and the potential they see in you. So I think when asked that, it’s an off-putting question as well from someone.

If I was a potential sponsor and someone I don’t know started asking me that I’d be thinking, “Look, A, that’s none of your business. B, I’m not even sure myself. C, there’s lots of flexibility. And D, you’re not going to get any off it.” I think you’ve got to be confident enough to propose something.

Kym: And it obviously has to be value for money when you compare that with other places they could spend that money?

Brett: Yes, and that’s of course the problem because it’s far less guaranteed. If I want $20,000 worth of advertising, I could buy $20,000 of advertising in the next one hour. Probably with one phone call to my local paper I could take $20,000 worth of ads like that and I would know what I’m going to get before I get it. It would not be a controversial decision. It would not be a decision that could put egg on my face six months down the track when the boss says, “What the hell was that all about?”

And that’s the problem. Sponsoring an unknown entity is a risk. There’s a chance for embarrassment. It’s not guaranteed and they might not have even done it before. So there’s clearly a lot working against you and that’s why you’ve got to be talking and expose yourself to so many people. So many people.

Easy does it

Kym: Does that mean it’s more of a softly, softly approach. Take a small option, allow them to test the waters first, make sure that you’re right for them, that you’re not going to embarrass them, that you’re not going to over promise and under deliver?

Brett: Absolutely. You’ve got to look like you can actually deliver. And I actually think that’s a rare quality. It’s always presumed that people will deliver. And people who are on the flog, who are selling themselves, always seem to have that presumption that, “Oh yeah, we’ll deliver value.” And frankly, I think if they are on the other half of the equation and had the checkbook they would be pretty cynical about what their return is.

So try and be creative in what you offer people. I think experiences are one of those opportunities where it might cost you less in money but if with some thought you can provide an interesting experience that will set you far above more conventional sponsorship models.

Remove risks for the sponsor

Kym: So once again, we need to frame sponsorship as a marketing or business exercise in many ways. The know-like-trust paradigm, if you like, that we need to already have developed some sort of authority or some sort of standing within our community or whatever it is that you take away many of the risks before you even get involved in the conversation?

Brett: Absolutely – and that’s unfortunate for people trying to break in because that’s the reality. We’re no different when we donate to charity, for instance. I’m not saying that they’re the same things, but it’s not dissimilar. You want to donate your money to an organisation that you trust, that you know, or that at the very least you can understand.

That’s something like the Fred Hollows Foundation does fabulously well. My mother can quote to me how much it costs per eye operation. Now, you can guarantee at Fred Hollows – and I’ve met the people – that those figures can’t be as exact as they present them. But they have worked out how many people they’ve helped over one year, what their budget is, and they can say to prospective donors, “Your $10 will give sight to one person.” So someone realizes, “Wow, $20, two eye operations. $50, five eye operations.” Very easy to understand, though of course in reality their operation is far more complex than that, or their organisation is far more complex than just eye operations. It’ll be all sorts of things. But to be able to simplify your organisation is really important.

Leverage = media coverage

Kym: That’s weirdly enough a type of media monitoring, I assume, being able to say that this eye operation or this person’s health was worth this many donated dollars. In a business sense, what’s your take on media monitoring as a way of valuing something?

Brett: Sadly I think most of the people reading this story won’t have the opportunity to create media coverage to justify a sponsor’s sponsorship. Even if you’re fortunate enough to get media coverage for a victory for your sport’s team or some sort of achievement for your organisation, they won’t mention your sponsors. So you want a sponsor who genuinely, as much as possible, actually just gets excited at your success for its own sake, not for the media coverage.

But don’t forget, if you’re doing stuff and you’re working with a good sponsor, they will promote their sponsorship; they will promote their achievements in their own communications, which might be a staff magazine, an intranet, their website, their brochures. There is a rule that says for every $10 you spend on the sponsorship you should spend $50 or more promoting the fact that you’re doing the sponsorship.

Kym: It’s like a three or four to one to leverage it?

Brett: I’ve heard five to one; I’ve heard ten to one. And I have seen that, by the way. I worked for a PR company that Telstra hired just before the 2000 Olympics. Telstra was the sponsor of the swim team, and still are I think – the Telstra Dolphins. And they gave a big, fat check to the Australian swimming organisation, whatever they are. But they spent much, much, much, much more than that on endless merchandise that they gave away to promote the fact that they were sponsoring the team.

We did swim clinics with Ian Thorpe, Daniel Kowalski, Sam Riley, every one of them, all the superstars, just before the 2000 Olympics. We did swim clinics in every capital city in the country. And there was a competition for kids to get into those swim clinics, which entailed full page magazines.

You can see where I’m getting at. However much they sent to the Australian swim team as a check was dwarfed by how much money they then spent showing off that, “We’re sponsoring the swim team.”

Kym: But what would their objectives have been? Obviously we were in love with the swim team because it was the Olympics and they were our shining golden boys and girls. What would they get out of it?

Brett: I think it gets back to that beatification through association. You’re absolutely right. It’s easy to forget eleven years ago the absolute mass hysteria around the Olympics and the absolute golden glow around the swim team that still exists to a lesser degree today. They were quite happy to spend shareholder dollars on sponsoring a team of swimmers. And they felt throughout those activities they got more value for their sponsorship dollars.

But when any of those swimmers won gold medals or got media coverage, as they did in buckets, Telstra was never mentioned. But you can guarantee that Telstra then told its staff and its shareholders, on its website and its advertising, it promoted the sponsors.

That is something to offer prospective sponsors, the fact that if you sponsor my race team you can use our imagery in your communications, in your advertising, in your internet site, in your monthly magazine. So that might be appealing, if it’s an interesting enough sponsorship.

Do them a favor and show them the way

Kym: But given that if you’re talking about activation and leverage and those sorts of things, is it your or my role to tell them how to do their job?

Brett: Yes. I think your sponsorship proposal, particularly for less sophisticated prospective sponsors, should show people the way they can use you. And I would – seriously, if I had a race team I would mock up some print ads or internet pages showing how the sponsor could they themselves show off about their sponsorship or utilize you beyond, “Your logo on our car.” I think you should.

It’s just the same way as the people selling you chickens don’t show a raw chicken on the packaging. They show a roasted chicken surrounded by carrots and potatoes on the dining table. It’s a serving suggestion. And I think you should because less sophisticated sponsors won’t understand that, “Oh yeah, this does give us fodder.” And, “Oh yeah, we can tell people ourselves that we’re sponsoring these people. And we’ll look good.”

Kym: Yeah, I haven’t heard that one before. I think that’s a wonderful idea. So creating an example of something like a press release they could use, or a picture of you holding one of their products or something like that.

Brett: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, “If you were sponsoring KO Racing you’d be welcome to use our pictures and imagery in your internal magazines and your brochures, even your advertising. Or extend an experience to your clients to come and spend a day with us in the pit crew.” Suddenly they’re thinking, “Aha, this is not doing you a favor. This could do us a favor.” That’s a big difference because the sponsorship that’s just asking for bloody a favor, well that’s not very sexy.

But if doing you a favor can also help them do a favor, depending on the nature of the organisation they might be obsessed with giving their clients interesting experiences. And for them to say to their five best clients, “Oh yes, we sponsor a drag racing team and they’re having a meeting. Would you like to spend Sunday afternoon with some overalls on and we’ll work on the car and then we’ll see it race?” “Oh yes, what an interesting…” And suddenly everyone’s happy and famous. See, it’s so easy, Kym.

Kym: It is. That’s why so many people do it. Why so many people are successful at getting sponsorship ๐Ÿ˜‰

5 common mistakes sponsorship seekers make

Kym: A question I always like to ask is what are, in your opinion, the five common mistakes that sponsorship seekers make and how to avoid them?

Brett: In no particular order…

  1. I think number one must be bland looking proposals that don’t grab attention.
  2. Two, they act as if they forget that a good sponsorship proposal has to be much more than just a logo.
  3. Three, they don’t offer a range of sponsorship levels from minor to major.
  4. Four, they don’t offer experiences as part of the sponsorship package for either the sponsor or his staff or his clients, and that last group is particularly forgotten.
  5. And number five, what can I say? They don’t make the sponsorship discreet and definite. They make it too general and too broad and it’s not quite suggestive enough. Those are five mistakes I think people would be often making.

3 golden rules for a successful sponsorship proposal

Kym: Okay. And one more question; your three golden rules to give your sponsorship proposals the best chance of success?

Brett: Well, look, I’d go back to some communications commandment…

  1. So know your purpose, which is obviously to gain the sponsorship. So everything that you send or you publish or that you say should be aimed at getting that sponsorship.
  2. Number two, know your audience. Try and get to know what might motivate them as a potential sponsor.
  3. And number three, know your message. So you’d really like to just say, “Send us a check,” but you’re going to have to refine it humongously from that to the point where you’re saying, “Hey, this is how we can help you. This is the interesting experience we can offer you. This is three levels of sponsorship.” So you’ve got to refine your message from just saying, “Please help us so we can keep on racing.” That is not nearly as interesting as, “Please help us and in doing so this is how we’ll help you.”

Kym: That’s great. I think that’s a real winner. Well Brett, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time for one day. Once again, thank you so much for providing some great insight into how to be successful in the sponsorship game.

Brett: You’re most welcome.


Read part 1 and part 2 of my interview with Brett de Hoedt.

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