Have you ever participated in an employee review, or better yet, a student-led parent-teacher conference? The times when I received staff reviews, it was the “boss” and me. The bosses always said what they thought, wrote the review, and I never saw it until I was in the “lecture.” When I was growing up, parent-teacher conferences were just between the parents and the teachers—no kids.
The world has changed, and I must say, for the better. Today, effective employee development updates involve interactive communication, self-reviews, peer reviews, and supervisor feedback. They are discussions versus lectures. When done right, we all learn, better understand each other, and can benefit from the outcomes. Today (with my 11-year-old daughter), the student sits in on the “parent-teacher” meeting. In fact, this term, she led the meeting and has done so as far back as grade 4! It is the students’ responsibility to show their parents what they have worked on, what they have accomplished, etc. Then they lead the conversation with the teacher and their parents. Truly, the skills of effective communication are being taught at a much younger age, and the processes of dialogue and communication are being integrated into HR and other parts of business versus autocratic one-way conversations or just “reporting.”
So what does all of this have to do with sponsorship? A great deal. One of the areas in which I think we need to be more diligent in our industry is our communications skills. We fail to communicate well. Sponsors don’t tell properties what they are truly trying to accomplish. They make the properties guess and then claim the proposal did not meet their needs. That is like going to the doctor and saying, “I don’t feel well. I am sick but I will not give you any details,” then expecting the doctor to prescribe a solution to your ailment.
Likewise, the properties don’t ask enough questions. They fail to push deeply and ask the hard questions about measuring ROI, budgets, and such. And they are scared! They are scared to go back and ask more questions. They fear the prospect will brush them off because they keep asking questions. It is the property’s job to ask lots of questions in order to determine needs and budgets so they can build the right program for the sponsor! This is a dialogue, not a guessing game!
And finally, we fail to provide ongoing communication. We “do the deal,” then basically fail to continue to communicate. Sure, we send monthly newsletters or scheduled email blast updates, but we truly fail to just communicate. For example, reaching out by email regarding an article in the newspaper about you or your partner, or trying to grab a lunch or coffee to talk strategy or catch up. We don’t have to wait for the event or renewal to do this. If it is truly a relationship, we need to communicate. Marriage partners who fail to communicate fail overall. Don’t let this happen to your sponsorship relationships. Pick up the phone—or text, email, or facetime with every sponsor personally in the next week and see how that goes. Create ongoing dialogue and watch your relationship prosper. Communication is essential for long-term success.
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