Sponsorship RFP’s

Sponsorship RFP’s

I am not sure how I can say this without offending a few people, but here goes. If you are trying to sell a sponsorship for your organization, posting an RFP is not the way to do it. In fact, in my opinion, it is stupid. No, it is really stupid!

Yes, rights holders and properties sometimes do this. The ones most infamous for it are municipalities. There are lots and lots of reasons why issuing an RFP to try and secure a naming right or sponsorship is really stupid. But I will address just two of them here.

Reason #1 Why Issuing an RFP for a Sponsorship is Really Stupid

Sponsorship is about relationships. It is not transactional. It is not about “best price.” It is about the rights holder building a sponsorship program that will meet the needs of the sponsor and help them deliver ROI. No one knows the property’s assets better than the property (supposedly, unless they are so stupid that they issue an RFP for a sponsorship because they don’t know their assets or property), so how could a brand propose the right assets? Without discussion and interaction, there is no negotiation. What is more, typically the property gets a lower dollar value than it would if it built the right program for the sponsors. Therefore, the sponsor’s ROI is poor. Low investment equals poor results. I know of hundreds of sponsorships that have been renewed after the first term when they were done correctly. I cannot list a single sponsorship acquired by an RFP process that was renewed after the initial term. That is sad! Finally, if you are just lazy and want to see who is interested, issue an EOI versus an RFP and then do the legwork.

Reason #2 Why Issuing an RFP for a Sponsorship is Really Stupid

The last line above is a nice segue into reason #2. Typically, from my experience, it is organizations without an understanding of sponsorship marketing that issue RFPs. I look at it as the lazy person’s approach to sponsorship. Rather than do the legwork to determine the right prospects and leads, rather than go and meet with prospects and do discovery sessions to learn their needs and custom build proposals, rather than negotiate and generate the maximum revenue for assets while at the same time delivering a profitable ROI for the sponsor, these individuals (or in some cases they are forced by their superiors) short cut the project to save time and workload and do an RFP. We all know the result of cutting corners—poor outcomes. So don’t be lazy. Do sponsorship correctly and it will yield terrific results.

If you know some reasons why issuing RFPs for sponsorship is stupid (or think otherwise), please post it on our blog, share it on LinkedIn,  or Twitter, or send me a direct email: brent@partnershipgroup.ca.

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  1. Perhaps before you criticize municipalities for issuing an RFP for sponsorships, you should understand that municipalities are legally required to complete a competitive process such as an RFP, Tender or Quote. Municipalities choose RFPs because they give the most opportunity to interact with the Proponents and find a solution that works best for both parties. Not knowing the legal requirements of municipalities before you criticize them is really stupid.

  2. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for your honest and direct feedback. Just so you understand I am aware that municiplaities have to issue RFPs for ceretain things. To hire compnaies like ourselfves as a consultign agency ios one of them. And we are fine with that process. But to acquire a sponsorship partner RFP is not the right way to go. As the article notes (perhaps you missed it) RFPs are transactionbal, not relationship developers. So RFPs cannot “interact with the proponents” in most cases. The procurement people look for the best bid and award it. Very little discussion, relationship building and negotiation.

    What we propose to our municipal clients… and also all our clients who want to go this route (and often a good choice), that they issue an EOI instead of an RFP. It is more flexible; it allows discussions to develop and interaction as you note to happen. We recommend an EOI over RFP… see we do know what we are talking about and not so “stupid” as you note.

    And so you are aware… and is noted in the post but again you may have missed… this is NOT just municipalities, it goes for sports teams, charities, non profits etc. as well.

    I do appreciate your post. Thanks for taking the time to read and to provide your feedback. I encourage this.

  3. Brent,

    Thanks for the insightful post. Feedback on the procurement process is always helpful, but it’s important to state that well-written and structured RFP’s offer more robust options than your article suggests, but your point is taken.

    So many RFP’s for sponsorships are poorly written and have unnecessary hoops, that you can see why they are an unpopular option for securing sponsorships.

    I think it would be very helpful for you to follow up this post with another one that offers some guidance for asset owners/municipal organizations on how to craft (RF) EOI’s to get good responses. I know that you will have some good information to offer.

    • kgkg,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and feedback. And I do 100% agree with you. It is the writing of the RFPs versus the concept. A well written RFP with knowledge and understanding about the service needed can be very effective. (I just saw the City of Kelowna do this recently around sponsorship.)

      Also I like your idea of a follow up article. I will do that! Thanks for reading. Brent


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