Through my experience, feedback and hard knocks, I’ve learned a few things about Sponsorship Sales and know first-hand the ups –and downs of selling. This post is dedicated to those on the business development side of the sponsorship marketing landscape. For the experienced pros, you can probably relate. For those who are new or thinking of joining the ranks, this should give you a good head-start:
Stop selling Logos
- Intellectual Property Rights are not a throw-in. IP is the basis for sponsorship and the lifeblood of most properties – it’s the biggest variable in your sponsorship mix and shouldn’t be an after-thought. The value of your property is like a stock – moving up and down depending on market variables such as your team’s performance (on –and-off the field), broadcast ratings, ticket sales, merchandise, activity of your current partners (e.g. activation and word-of-mouth), and how your corporate partnership team is representing your property in the market (sales and service), etc. Remember, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. To maximize your sponsorship development strategy, stop undervaluing (or overselling) the value of your IP rights. Be honest with yourself or get third-party analysis to keep you in check. For the most part, you don’t sell IP rights in isolation. They are bundled with other tangible and intangible assets that form an integrated partnership. It’s not just about the “use of our logos”…it’s about creating ideas, concepts and stories that your partners can activate. Do you think P&G’s success around the Olympics lives and dies with the Rings? They win on the “Mom” platform that is brought to life through a compelling story that resonates on an emotional level with consumers. Would the “Rings” without “Mom” have the same effect or the “Mom” without the “Rings”? IP Rights give you the creative platform (and freedom) to be relevant. Relevance can’t be fully articulated through a logo-set. If your property could talk what would it say? Start the conversation.
Pick up the Phone
- Sponsorship is not a transaction – it’s a conversation on all levels including the first interaction between buyer and seller. Stop hiding behind email and call someone! You’d be surprised what you can achieve when you have a live two-way conversation vs. an email. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World and know what the “Fast Pass” line is, or the VIP line at a night club, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Don’t stand in line with all those emails and hope you’re lucky enough to get in (if you haven’t been deleted, already). All things being equal, people still buy from people.
- Join your local sponsorship marketing association (in Canada, it’s the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada). Join a Twitter conversation. Expand your network and attend a conference (e.g. Western Sponsorship Congress, Canadian Sponsorship Forum or the SMCC annual Conference and Awards). Ever better, find a way to speak. Opportunity isn’t going to find itself.
Become an expert in Sponsorship Marketing
- Would you feel comfortable if your doctor wasn’t an expert in the medical field? How about your mechanic or your teacher? If you want to sell sponsorship, understand the “why” behind it. Why should I buy sponsorship over another marketing option? Why does it work? It won’t matter what you’re selling if you can’t answer these questions.
Prepare to Win
- Practice, Practice, Practice! It’s not a new expression, but can I tell you, preparation is the true mark of a pro. What happens when the quarterback doesn’t prepare, or the coach doesn’t watch the game tape of their next opponent? You work in sports; you should know that the greatest champions invest everything on-and of the field of play. It should be no different in sports business. Whether it’s a presentation, cold call or other form of communication, prepare yourself for success and plan (don’t hope) to win.
Shine up your Toy
- Let’s face it; everyone loves shiny new toys -especially my kids. If you’re not selling the hottest new toy, and you’re not getting the traction in the marketplace, it’s time to get out that shine box and shine-up your property. Don’t settle for “your property is kind of old and we’ve been there and done that”. Repackage, reposition, build a new model or how about a new extension (e.g. NHL’s Winter Classic). Think about the greatest toys of all time; ones that never lose their value and continue to end-up under the Christmas tree. Do you think Lego and Barbie are being sold, packaged and positioned the same as 50 years ago? Get out that shine box and make your property great, again. People can pick up on your enthusiasm. If you’re not genuinely excited, how can they get excited? Get your property back on every marketer’s wish list – it will make your life a lot easier.
Track your Data
- Up until recently, I’ve been using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Word documents to track sales activity and conversations (I know, I know). Can you believe I’ve been using these for more than a decade? Even more surprising, most of my industry colleagues have been using the same method. This is 2015! Find a CRM system that works for your organization. Look into Salesforce or another platform -It will make your lives easier, more efficient and free up valuable time to invest in cultivating new and existing partners.
Tap into your Internal Network
- Look within your organization and uncover new opportunities. I’m not talking about your colleagues in the Corporate Partnership/ Sponsorship group. I mean the marketing department, communications teams, and executive management. There’s a goldmine out there filled with potential introductions to new prospects, insights on specific industries and new activation ideas. Buy lunch for these people and host a brainstorm session to uncover some hidden gems. You may not know it now, but they could be holding the key and missing piece to closing a big partner.
Stay tuned for Mazereeuw’s Guide to Selling More Sponsorship in 2015 – Part 2/2