Sponsorship letter writing – why they don’t work
If you’re still sending an unqualified and unsolicited sponsorship letter to potential sponsors, please stop.
Put yourself in the shoes of a marketing manager who receives hundreds of sponsorship letters every month. What’s the likely-hood they are going to take time out of their busy day to read a sponsorship letter from someone they don’t know, asking for some sort of investment into something they don’t care about?
You guessed it – not very likely.
It’s the same reaction you get when your Wednesday night family dinner is interrupted by a telemarketer. Or when you receive an email from a Nigerian prince offering you a share in his fortune.
It’s spam – nothing more. And your potential sponsors will treat it as such.
The #1 tip I can give you to get sponsored is to stop sending sponsorship letters.
Are you ready to get serious about your sponsorship seeking? Do you want to get sponsored and reach your goals? Then read on…
Sponsorship isn’t easy
There’s no secret formula or magic bullet to sponsorship success. It takes hard work and commitment to get sponsored.
If you have these two attributes, you give yourself the very best chance of success. And let’s not forget, success is incremental. You don’t need to sign that major sponsor the first time you meet with a qualified prospect to be successful. Practice, patience and perseverance will feature heavily in your success as a sponsorship seeker.
With that said, let’s look at a method to help you get sponsored once you’ve kicked the sponsorship letter writing habit.
Researching your sponsors
The first problem with a sponsorship letter is that it doesn’t address the needs of the sponsor. It’s usually all about you and what you want. This is not the way to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a sponsor.
First, you must have a good understanding of your audience and your sponsorship objectives. Next, you must understand who the sponsor’s ideal customer is and what their marketing objective are.
Is there a good fit? Do you have what the sponsor wants to support their objectives and can they support your objectives? Is it a potential win/win relationship for both parties?
See 5 steps to finding that perfect sponsor for more details.
Once you know which sponsors you’ll target, it’s time to start promoting yourself to catch their eye. You have to appear on a sponsor’s radar multiple times before they will take notice of you.
This visibility can take many forms. Let’s say you’re heavily involved in the sport of CrossFit and you target a sponsor who sells CrossFit equipment. To make yourself visible to them I would recommend:
- Attending events supported and promoted by the sponsor. Make sure you introduce yourself and spend time with the sponsor at the event
- Go to as many networking opportunities as you can that the sponsor attends. e.g. Industry events, professional associations and conferences
- Engage with the sponsor via social media. Comment on posts and make sure to tag and refer to the sponsor where applicable
- If you already use their products, create reviews, contribute to surveys and enter competitions
- Create and publish content (blogging, audio, video etc.) valuable to the sponsor’s audience (other CrossFitters)
You must give before you can receive. Your aim is to create an environment where you can generate warm leads or an invitation to connect with the sponsor more directly.
When you take the actions listed above you’ll begin to influence the sponsor’s decision making process.
- Reciprocity – when you give the sponsor something of value, they’ll feel compelled to give something back
- Liking – if the sponsor likes you, they will be more open to your sponsorship opportunity. Share your story and let your character shine
- Authority – Demonstrate your influence and authority within the sponsor’s target audience. Sponsors understand that influence and authority have a very positive effect on sales
Build personal relationships
During this phase it’s important to learn as much as you can about the sponsor:
- What’s their current marketing strategy (the 6 Ps of the perfect sponsorship proposal)
- What are their sales and marketing objectives
- What’s the expected return on investment
- How do they measure success
- Are there any key performance indicators to consider
- What’s their sales conversion rate
- What’s their budget (how to put the right price on your next sponsorship proposal)
With this information, actively brainstorm marketing ideas and initiatives with your sponsor to help meet their objectives (and yours).
This collaborative approach will produce much better results for you and the sponsor. At the end of this process, you will have a clear picture of the sponsor’s requirements and have agreed with the sponsor on the marketing initiatives and sponsorship strategy.
Now all that’s required is to get formal agreement on the discussions to date, including how to measure success and the value to the sponsor. This is the function of the Sponsorship Proposal, to primarily document what you’ve already discussed and agreed on with the sponsor.
(Actually, the document should probably be called a sponsorship agreement because that’s what we’re doing, agreeing on the details of the sponsorship strategy. Something to think about).
For more information on putting together a sponsorship proposal, see 10 essential steps to create a winning sponsorship proposal.
Putting it all together
To summarise, if you want to get sponsored, here’s the process you want to follow:
- Understand that sponsorship isn’t easy. It takes practice, patience and perseverance
- Understand your objectives and target audience
- Understand your sponsor’s objectives and target audience
- Are you a good fit with the sponsor?
- Promote yourself and get on the sponsor’s radar
- Demonstrate reciprocity, likeability and authority
- Generate warm leads
- Build personal relationships with your sponsor
- Learn as much as you can about your sponsor’s sales and marketing objectives
- Agree on the marketing initiatives and sponsorship strategy
- Deliver the agreement in the form of a customised sponsorship proposal
Until next time…
Happy sponsorship seeking, Kym