Three Keys to Sponsorship Success

Three Keys to Sponsorship Success

Today, I am in Edmonton to deliver the opening keynote address at the 18th Annual Western Sponsorship Congress® Alberta Forum. Some of you will be here. Others are unable to make it to the event in person, so I thought I would share an overview of my address, which comprises a small part of the dozens of industry-leading speakers and panelists.

When I began planning this keynote, knowing that topics of the WSC 2022 would include best practices, focus on activation post pandemic, data gathering, storytelling around success, and learning experiences, I felt it important to set the tone for the event by sharing what I think are the three key elements of a successful sponsorship career.

Though there are many traits and elements of a successful sponsorship career, I wanted to make the take home knowledge digestible, and something that each delegate and reader could put into practice immediately. So, I chose three key traits that, if pursued, will bring success.  Let’s dive in.

  • Relationships: Relationships matter. Sponsorship is not a transactional marketing channel. It is not a media buy or PR campaign. It delivers emotion and authenticity to a marketing undertaking. It is experiential. To achieve authenticity, engage emotion, and create relevant experiences, you must know your partner inside and out. That takes time. A deep and trusting relationship must exist to build a cost effective and efficient sponsorship program. As a sponsor or a property, you need a deep relationship with your partner to succeed over the long term. So, spend time building relationships. Play the long game!
  • Asset/Brand Valuation: This is simple math. You need to know what you have to sell and what it is worth. Like any business, a property/rights holder needs to know not only what assets they have to sell, including tangible assets such as signage, sampling opportunities, or data collection through an app of engagement, but also the intangibles such as the value to the brand of the association with your property or what elements for B2B or B2C you can bring to the table. For sponsors, you need to know what assets will actually help you achieve your goals and what they are worth. Could you achieve the same outcome with a media buy or PR campaign?
  • Communication: This is the most important factor and one that is often overlooked. Too often, communication only exists during the cultivation/pitch/renewal process, or when something has gone wrong or needs to change. Successful communication among all parties is ongoing. Timely response to correspondence is critical. There must be an ongoing information flow, and when you have a real relationship, communication flows much better and often includes personal and non-business elements, such as a note to your partner on their son’s graduation or daughter’s wedding. Authentic relationships and great communication will help to bring you success.

By making these three key elements a top priority in your sponsorship career/program, you can expect success. There are other factors, but without these three, you will struggle.

I welcome your feedback and thoughts on the key elements for success in our sector.

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  1. Can I guess another in the top 5? “Not offering prospects predetermined levels with assets they don’t want”

    • Josh,
      Terrific insight. We need to customize proposals versus giving them stock proposal full of assets they don’t need or want. See you on the weekend.


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