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YBI Creative

Rob Sharp interview – part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my interview with Rob Sharp from YBI Creative.

To recap, in part 1 of the interview we discussed:

  • how to contact a potential sponsor before sending in a proposal
  • the importance of researching a potential sponsor
  • finding out what the potential sponsors marketing KPIs are and using them to create value
  • lead times for sponsorship proposals

How do you put a value on a sponsorship proposal?

Kym: Okay, my next question is about costing a sponsorship proposal. Should it be about operational costs or something else? How do you put a value on what you have to offer?

Rob: What you should put a value on is what you’re selling, so the operational costs I always leave completely as an aside. If you did it on an operational basis, drag racing would actually be a poor thing to sell because, as you and I both know, it’s a bloody expensive sport to run. So, if you were talking about operational costs, then it does sound a bit scary. “You know what? I can sponsor, like we said, a surf life saving club. They’ll put me on their uniforms, they’ve got a membership of 2000 people and this all works well.”

What I would do is put a value on the things that you can do for them. Let’s use you as an example. If you were to look at getting sponsorship by an oil company and they had several key distributors across Australia, and hoping to use you for a car display, they would have to pay to obviously get a car there, so I would put a value on getting a car there. Tickets and what we call, “unbillables”, so things that you can’t put a price on, so whether you had a passenger seat in your car and you were able to organise to get them passes on a race track or whatever that might be, so I always attach the fiscals to the value rather than the cost. Keep the cost completely separate.

Kym: Okay. So it’s the return on their investment that they can receive, or the value that they could get elsewhere as well, so it’s got to be comparing apples with apples?

Rob: It depends on what value you’re attaching too it. Obviously, this is changing, but for a group one competitor, ANDRA had and will have again, a media monitoring program, so you can actually devise how much value they’re getting. So, a lot of the group one sponsors have been landed purely on the basis of you’ll end up with seven verbal mentions, three logos, 14 minutes of brand exposure across a year, and that equals $182,000 at commercial rates.

So, whether you go through a company like Media Monitoring Australia or Repucom, or many of the other media monitoring places, you can actually attach a genuine value to what it is that you’re providing. Now, you’d also be in a position with your background to attach value to web traffic and the digital side of things, social media page impressions, intro and outro. So, if you were to build a website as a part of your racing operation or whatever it is you’re trying to get sponsored, then you could obviously use Google Analytics as a fantastic tool to tell you how many people are going from your social media or your website page to their website page, and vice versa. So, you’ll be able to quantify how much traffic you’re sending them.

If you had specific promotions, so basically, you get your ticket redeemed by Kym at the track for 10% off at your local auto part store, or whatever it might be. They’re all things that you can do to underscore the value of what it is that you’re doing.

Even do a promotion. Like, if you were to write a promotion for Penrite tomorrow with a specific email address or a specific phone number that only you were running, and then you got 258 entries as a part of that specific URL or email address or phone number, and then you can say, “Here are incremental people that I’m bringing to your business, not just brand awareness, but through the door results that you can actually quantify.”

Now, every part of your package, whether it’s PR or Internet or TV or radio or whatever it might be, there would be a way of quantifying it, and it varies. But, with a bit of logic and a bit of research, you can work out what’s the best way to measure it.

Kym: When is the best time to talk about value? Is it after you’ve established a relationship and met with them, talked about their KPIs and objectives and then gone back to flesh out the final offering, and just leave price off the table until that time?

Rob: 100%.

What about a sponsorship budget?

Kym: Is it also better to get an indication of budget, or will they just go, “You tell me”?

Rob: Look, that’s on a case to case basis. On a lot of it, I would actually give them a figure on what it is that we would be looking for and that way, it’s not a complete shock when it comes around, and I think it’s a good thing to do as a verbal as well.

Just to say, “Look, what we’re looking for…let’s not waste each other’s time, is that I would need $40,000. I will provide more value than $40,000 and I’m happy to itemise the way that I would do that. But, this is the figure that I need in terms of providing the level that you want to do.” And, I’d also ask them what they plan on spending as well.

I mean, obviously, it was interesting to have a wander around the pits in Las Vegas yesterday, and I think that all of the current sponsors in NHRA, and there are less than there was two years ago, by the way, but all of the NHRA sponsors would be spending more on their leverage and activation than what it would be on their cost to NHRA.

So, their displays and their registration procedures and their giving away of promotional material to get people to hand out the details, to hand over their data is where the money is. I would think if you’re spending $500,000 on an NHRA sponsorship, you’re spending probably $2,000,000 on leveraging and servicing it. So, a part of that conversation should be, “I need this to do a good job for you, but I also need you to put in to make sure that you get what you want to get out of it.”

Kym: I did read somewhere and it seems to be a common theme that activation or leverage or making sure that the sponsorship actually works, will return some of the tangible results you’re looking for. It’s in a factor of two to three times the cost of sponsorship, or something like that?

Rob: That’s right.

Kym: And, the only way they are serious is if they turn around and say, “Okay, this is going to be $50,000 but you’re going to have to spend an additional $100,000 to $150,000 to make this work.”

Rob: It depends on the organisation as well. So, a lot of that, take Mitre 10 as example, if they were store owned, then what you would say is that, “I’m appearing at these tracks. Would your store be interested in doing anything promotionally around it?”

So, they would have cooperative marketing budgets that exist over and above their head office marketing budget. A lot of these will. So, what that means is that if you’ve got five, nine or ten stores in an area or PMA, primary marketing area, then they will have a cooperative fund to promote certain offers or products or bits and pieces that they do in that area. So, you might be able to access those funds as well.

Sending your sponsorship proposal

Kym: This leads on to the question then, so we’ve got lead time, costing, the proposal, should you print it out so that it’s tangible or is it okay to email the sponsorship proposal?

Rob: Yeah, again, it’s a case by case thing. If you’re going to print something, really make it worthwhile. If you’re just running out on a colour printer, basically what you’ve got, then I’d go with a PDF or use a program like ISSU or Scribd where you can embed a PDF so it actually looks a little bit nicer and a bit more presentable. You know, you can buy a unique URL that makes it look a bit kind of…you know, a bit more “shmick” if that’s the angle that you’re going for.

But, it varies on a case by case basis. Obviously, you know if I was talking to Sybiz Software, I’d go with the PDF, but if I was talking to Penguin Publishing, I’d probably go with printing.

So, on a case by case, I’d vary it up, but if it’s a technology company, if it’s young and kind of vibey, then definitely go for the technology side of things. If it’s Elders that you’re talking to, then I’d definitely be printing something out.

5 common mistakes sponsorship seekers make

Kym: Okay. Now I’ve got two more questions for you Rob and then we’ll wrap it up. The first question is what would be your five common mistakes sponsorship seekers make and how to avoid them?

Rob: Okay.

  1. Proofread everything that you do because you instantly lose credibility when it’s full of spelling mistakes and typos. Make sure ten people have read that document before you send it anywhere.
  2. Make sure you’re sending it to the right person and make sure you know their name and title, spelling it perfectly.
  3. Make sure you talk to the person before you send them something so they know what they’re expecting.
  4. Study their brand guidelines and marketing plan, and their brand guidelines just means, make sure you’ve included the right logos, the right colours, all of the right bits and pieces before you get there.
  5. Make sure you find out why you didn’t get the sponsorship.

Kym: That’s a good one. Just on that note, I’ve noticed a common thing they do these days because of the Internet and conversing digitally, a lot of places have a sponsorship page on their website, large organisations, but they no longer provide any contact details. They just supply a form that you have to fill out. Doesn’t that basically mean that you’re really not going to get anywhere?

Rob: My advice is with LinkedIn, with Facebook, there are plenty of ways to go about getting to know who it is that you need to be talking to. Go through the correct procedure and then find out the details of that person somehow or somewhere, and send them something that tells them to expect it.

3 golden rules for a successful sponsorship proposal

Kym: Okay, this is my last question I promise. What are three to golden rules that go into every successful sponsorship proposal?

Rob: No worries.

  1. The first thing is never give up. I know a guy who got knocked back by the same person 11 times. On the 12th time, lucky number 12, they came to a small agreement and this is in sailing, and they’ve now been a title sponsor for this organisation now for, I think, six years. So, initially, completely not interested, but the guy just persisted and persisted and persisted, and I actually think in some ways, you know, pressure makes diamonds. That relationship now is so tight, because it was almost a chuckle to agree to it. You know what I mean? It was like, “Alright, I give up. I can’t afford not to do this. I’m sick of talking to you.” So, the one thing is persistence, and that no one, no one ever gets sponsorship easily. It is a bloody hard thing to do and it is a bloody hard thing to maintain, and that’s why I heard someone say the other day that they’ve given up on sponsorship as a revenue stream. It’s too hard to make money out of and that’s someone who runs events and venues, so you would think that it would be a relatively easy thing, a well-populated and well-serviced venue. So, first one, I guess, is probably persistence.
  2. The second one is make it a marketing case. Don’t make it an exposure of logos. You’re not selling logos. You’re selling brands and make sure you build a marketing case for the brand to be involved, not just, “I’ll put a logo this big on this car.” Make it a part of their marketing plan. So, understand what it is that they would be looking to get out of and make sure that you build that into your sponsorship proposal.
  3. Third golden rule is just to communicate. It’s much easier to cancel a sponsorship for someone you never hear from, so pester them. You’ll become a part of their routine; become a part of their life. Continue to communicate.

Kym: Thanks so much for that…it has been awesome talking with you today Rob and I’m sure anyone reading this will get a lot out of it. Could you tell me a little more about what YBI does?

Need some advice?

Rob: YBI Creative started as a design house. The opportunity to do something that wasn’t just a cookie cutter kind of marketing agency was something that appealed to me. So together with Drew Jongebloed, we will be surrounding ourselves with the right people in order to develop a really multi-faced marketing organisation that does everything from sponsorships to social, to events, to all sorts of things, obviously about above the line and below the line advertising and collateral material.

So, we will be heavily involved in drag racing for the foreseeable future and all sorts of areas. If you want to know anything about YBI Creative, then just visit, or if you want any help, tips, advice, contacts, design work, then feel free to give me a buzz or email me. We’re always happy to have a chat and the advice is free.

Kym: Thanks again Rob. It’s been a real pleasure.

Rob: My pleasure. Thanks mate.

So there you have it folks, the very first interview on Practical Sponsorship Ideas.

And what a great way to start. I’m sure you’ll agree that Rob has provided us with a lot of great information and food for thought.

Stay tuned as I have some exciting interviews coming up soon. And don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any specific questions you would like me to ask in the future.

Until next time…cheers, Kym.

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The Perfect Sponsorship Pitch

The Perfect Sponsorship Pitch is a step-by-step process, designed to bypass the gatekeepers and get your sponsor’s attention.