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Understanding the basic principles of sponsorship

Ninety-Five’s very own sponsorship consultant, James Melville, guides you through the key principles of sponsorship.

The basic principles of sponsorship:-

So, what’s a sponsorship broker?

A sponsorship broker can also be described as a sponsorship consultant or a sponsorship agency. It’s simply a term to describe the role of bridging and brokering sponsorship deals between rights holders and companies.

A sponsorship broker is essential to:

a) bring together rights holders and sponsors

b) bring out the best assets within a sponsorship package

c) manage the sponsorship to ensure successful renewal

So, what’s a rights holder? 

A rights holder could be a programme, team, event or individual in a multitude of sectors across sport, arts, media, charity or venue. These organisations will have a set of assets that can be articulated into a set of sponsorship packages with the objective of obtaining market interest and sponsorship agreements.

The packages that rights holders offers is often extremely valuable. They have their own brand and ethos that resonates with their target audience. With a rise in digital media and the amount of information that we are being bombarded with means that access to the right target audience is vital. It is also vital to bring the sponsorship packages to life and showcase what assets are on offer.

How do I get companies to sponsor?

We have highlighted our ‘10 principles of successful sponsorship’ that must always be adhered to when brokering and negotiating a sponsorship: For a sponsorship deal to be successful, the rights holder and the sponsorship broker must adhere to these rules.

10 principles of successful sponsorship:

(1) There’s no such thing as easy money.

If you require sponsorship, it’s not just about your needs, it’s also about the sponsor needs. It won’t work if the relationship is too lopsided one way or the other. It’s not just about a sponsor showing us the money. It’s about building a relationship between a rights holder and a sponsor. It’s about creating a sustainable partnership. Ultimately, it’s about creating a two-way mirror of understanding.

(2) Show them the benefit

Sponsors don’t need to share your passion for your cause in order to sponsor you. They just need to be able to see the long term compatible values and commercial benefit that their organisation will receive through a particular sponsorship.

(3) Target relevant companies

Do your very best to gain sponsorship from companies, organisations or brands that seem a natural fit with your event or organisation. Create a defined list of potential companies that can be contacted about the sponsorship, rather than just sticking your finger in the air and hoping for the best through a random scattergun approach to obtaining a sponsor.

(4) Shout from the rooftops

There will be more likelihood of obtaining a sponsor if the sponsorship opportunity is already known. In advance of obtaining a sponsor, the rights holder should promote what they have on offer through traditional, digital and social media.

The more you show, the more they know…

(5) It’s not all about the logo

Sponsorships are about more than sticking logos on everything or turning something into  brand theme park. While your sponsorship agreement might include use of logos, if that’s all you’ve got to offer you can’t really ask for all that much in return. The set of sponsorship rights that are produced by a rights holder must be succinct, but at the same time, stand out from the crowd with detail, wow factors and tangible benefits for a sponsor.

(6) Plan ahead

Don’t count on starting your sponsorship search one day and getting it all under way the next. These things can take time. Allow plenty of time in your forward planning. An extensive list of target sponsors should be drawn up – a list of which is clearly identified as the correct fit for the sponsorship. An understanding of the target sponsors audience must be developed. The rights packages must be valued with detailed methodology to give legitimacy to the rights package value.

(7) Get it in writing

Firm up all details of your arrangement in writing. Leave no doubt as to what has been agreed to. List the agreed sponsorship rights, benefits, management structure, fees and contract timelines within a contract.

(8) Aim high

It’s better to get one or two big, meaningful sponsorships in place than lots of small ones. There’s less clutter for them, more focus on them, and less sponsor management for you. The ‘less is more’ approach to a sponsor family is almost always the best approach – both in terms of time and money.

(9) Create positive partnerships

Don’t ever think that once you’ve got the sponsorship fee your job is done. Sponsorships are all about relationships. It’s all about creating positive partnerships. You need to be in regular contact, and you need to ensure that you’re always doing what you said you’d do. Ultimately, you want a seamless renewal of the sponsorship with that sponsor. Failure to build relationships with the sponsor will significantly reduce the likelihood of any sponsorship renewal. To achieve this, a dedicated sponsorship management team must be in place from day 1 of the sponsorship contract term.

(10) Get educated. Do your homework

Don’t be under-cooked before you start searching for a sponsor. Research the market, PR the sponsorship opportunity, start networking, learn about the companies that you are targeting for sponsorship. The more you know, the smarter you’ll be.

If these 10 lessons are learned and then applied, the likelihood of a) obtaining a sponsor b) successfully renewing that sponsorship will be significantly enhanced.