Ugh! It drives me crazy! “Through a sponsorship, we can grab the ‘low hanging fruit’ and get some cash in!” I hear it too often. Sponsorship selling properties/rights holders often don’t get it. They think the cash grab is more essential than the relationship. And the biggest laugh is when they are a charitable organization that “gets” or understands the required cultivation and long timeline of a major gift, but cannot apply that thought process to their sponsorship relationships! They go after the low hanging fruit and close the sponsorship deal without really understanding the needs of the sponsor. They make it all transactional!
True sponsorships and partnerships take time and relationship development. Often the low hanging fruit sponsorships are one hit wonders. The property gets the money, the sponsor is not satisfied and does not return. Or the money sticks around until the committee/board member who secured it moves on and the money does the same—moves on. Or perhaps it is neither of those, but just a decision maker who loves the property or event and invests/ supports it. But when that decision maker moves on, someone will ask, “Why are we doing this?” and no one will have an answer, including the property that is selling it because they never delivered any real marketing/PR/GR/community value.
It is important to build relationships. Understand your partner’s needs and goals and deliver on them versus the quick cash grab. Sponsorship is not an action or series of actions you complete and tick off boxes. It is about relationships and authenticity in caring about your partners and their success. Whether you are a selling property/rights owner or a buyer/ brand/sponsor, it is a state of being that pervades every aspect of your life/work life. It’s an ongoing relationship beyond pitching a stock proposal, signing the deal, and asking for a renewal 12 months later. People buy from people they like and trust. Build the relationship and reap the rewards for both you and your partners over the long term.
If you are interested in learning more about corporate sponsorship relationship development as one of the keys to success in this sector, register for the October 2022 WSC – Alberta Forum.
I hope to see you there in person and build a relationship with you!
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