How to Launch a Sponsorship Campaign

Selling sponsorships needn't be intimidating with these eight easy steps.

Many mid-sized or smaller sports and recreation facilities want to engage in sponsorship sales and management, but find the prospect daunting - or, if they already have a plan in place, decide that their current methods are no longer working. Here are eight key components to launching a sponsorship campaign:

Consult with sponsorship professionals.

In this diminishing world of traditional advertising, many ad agencies disguise traditional advertising campaigns as sponsorship campaigns. Research the experience of the consulting agency and its track record of sponsor sales - especially repeat sales to any one sponsor.

Uncover all potential saleable benefits and rights.

Learn what opportunities you have that a sponsor may want access to. In the process, be sure to address territorial issues with other divisions in your organization. For example, if you operate a university recreation center, be sure to coordinate in advance with the university's marketing department, its development department and, especially, its sports marketing department before beginning a full-blown campaign.

Package your sponsorship benefits into manageable portions.

Be careful not to give away top benefits to mid- or low-level sponsors. The packaging process can be very creative. Consider "off the shelf inventory" (such as signage, VIP packages and special access to your facility) that you know you can deliver with each particular sponsorship.

Consider the value to potential sponsors.

Ask yourself how you can help the sponsor sell more product, enhance brand image, meet local business objectives, meet employee/recruiting/human resource needs or introduce new products or services to your clientele.

Allow for creative thinking and benefits.

Sponsors want to own a piece of the property in a proprietary and exclusive manner. Build in options like naming rights, select-category options, and in-kind propositions.

Create an attractive, concise sales pitch.

Direct-mail lore holds that in marketing you have three to five seconds to capture people's attention. The trick lies in doing exactly that. Your pitch has to stand out, be short and concise, capture the imagination and get prospects beyond the sales proposition and to the brainstorming position, where they see your sponsorship as a plausible solution to several of their business needs.

Follow through.

Your contractual proceeding should protect you and the sponsor, and your activation plan should deliver all the benefits you promised and sold. Execute on all deliverables. Ensure the sponsor also executes on all that they promised.

Document deliverables.

Track media impressions and other tangible evidence of the sponsors' return on investment. Be able to report on a periodic basis the progress of the sponsorship, as well as the final ROI through a formal summary of execution.

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