I have always said that it is about the relationship. Sponsorship is a relationship game, not a transactional one. It’s true that you must have a good product and an applicable audience, but people typically buy from people they like and trust. Relationships build trust. Without trust, you cannot have a good relationship.
To build these relationships, we need to communicate. And that means we have to deliver on both sides of the communication equation. We need to listen and to speak. When listening, we need to make sure we do so with the intent to learn. Most of us hear and don’t listen. We are too anxious to respond and provide feedback, so we hear the words, but fail to listen deeply enough to understand and process. To be successful in a relationship, you need to listen to learn.
Then when we speak, we need to deliver insight and information. We need to provide value, so the other person can listen and learn. It is critical to be authentic and of value.
To build a relationship, we need to use all forms of communication available to us—different media for different times. That means ensuring you are not only connected to those with whom you want to build deeper and more meaningful business relationships, but also other channels. Post and share, comment and compose. When you see a post about a person or their organization, share it with a tag to them or comment on how proud you are of them for such an achievement. Post information, share other stories you may read online, and tag others. Then they see where you stand and what you know.
Spend time with people when you can face to face in their offices (not yours—theirs), at a coffee shop, or over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When applicable, text and email, and of course, remember there is a phone in that handheld device you have. Use it and talk to people. That is how you build relationships. Relationships will make you successful.
Years ago, I worked with a lady named Carol Solomon. She was the marketing VP with Purolator. We worked with her and her agencies (Ingrid Rubin who was later with the T1 Agency and Keith McIntyre with KMac and Associates) to build a terrific and successful sponsorship program for Purolator with the Calgary Flames, then the Leafs, and others. Around that same time, I was building a relationship with a gentleman named John Boynton (now president and CEO of Torstar Publishing) who was the VP Marketing for KFC at the time and also made an investment with Flames Radio with me. Eventually, both moved on. A few years later, I was in a meeting with AT&T Canada and the meeting was transferred from the CEO to the president of the Residential Division. I waited in their King Street Wsst Toronto board room, and low and behold, who should walk in but Carole Solomon. She was the president of AT&T Canada Residential. I ended up doing what, at the time, was my biggest sponsorship deal ever with her and AT&T Canada. By the time that deal was in place and ready to be executed, John Boynton joined her as VP Marketing. Doing the deal was simple. We had a proven formula that had worked for Carole in the past. She trusted me and we had a relationship. John trusted me and we had a relationship. It worked. Without that trust and the relationships, I don’t think that deal ever would have happened, and for sure, not so quickly.
Without trust, you don’t have a relationship. Without the relationship, you won’t have the long-term deals you need to be successful. Build relationships to be successful long term.
Whether you are looking for more content such as this or specific to the post-COVID-19 sponsorship world, the best place for insights, discussion, and learning is at the WSC® Alberta Forum in Edmonton September 29-30, the WSC® Ontario Toronto Forum (October 6-7) or WSC® Ontario Ottawa Forum (October 20-21, 2020). Seating for all three events is limited, so register today to ensure you get all the support you need to make your sponsorship program bounce back with success. Refund guarantees are in place, so there is no risk if you cannot attend. Register today for best pricing!
Please continue to practice social distancing when you can, stay home when you can, stay in touch with others, and stay healthy. We want to see you at WSC® 2020!
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