Tying Your Laces

Tying Your Laces

It is critical to learn from those who have walked in your shoes. Throughout my careers (restaurant management/hospitality/radio sales/sponsorship sales and now sponsorship marketing consulting), I have tried to learn from those who “can” and “do.” In the restaurant business, I mentored under some great GMs, learned the ropes, and excelled as a result. They had been there. They had bought the t-shirt. They had done their time. They spoke from experience, being in the trenches, and having done what it takes. (I think I used every colloquialism in the book in this first paragraph!)

For the most part, I had the same in radio and sponsorship. I did have one general sales manager in radio though, who had never sold “on the street.” He tried to push what worked for agency buying in the sponsorship programs we were offering. It did not work. He had never “worked the street” and done discovery sessions, nor built relationships. His philosophy from his ivory tower was “If they don’t want my package, someone else will. No customizing.”  I left the organization. It’s pretty hard to work for someone selling on the street when they have never gotten their feet wet in that end of the pool.

I know there are a few people in our industry who have taken content from others, “enhanced” their resumes, and are great salespeople, but have never really done sponsorship strategy development, inventory asset identification, valuation, and such. But they have read lots, gone to workshops, and then put out a shingle and called themselves industry consultants. I also know a few people who are consultants, but have never worked in the industry. They came out of university and went straight to a large consultancy to “advise and consult.” They never worked for a corporation or business that invests in sponsorship or philanthropy. They have never earned a bi-weekly paycheque from a charity, sport organization, or member association. They consult and tell people how to run their sponsorship or fundraising programs, but have never “walked a mile in their shoes!” I am wary of those.

At the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists®! our consultants have all had experience buying and selling sponsorships. They worked in the trenches before they became consultants. They all have over 25 years in the industry—and we are proud of that. We often get asked by folks how they can become part of our team. My answer is simple—put in at least 10 years in the front line working for a property and/or brand and then come talk to me—not before! I believe all of us need to follow the concept “Don’t let anyone who hasn’t been in your shoes tell you how to tie your laces.” It’s critical that those from whom you seek advice have experience to share so you can learn from their mistakes and successes.

Next month at the WSC® (Western Sponsorship Congress® – Alberta Forum) there will be droves of people who can help you tie your laces. The wealth of knowledge and expertise available at the week-long Virtual National Conference will allow you to learn and also network with people who have walked in your shoes as well as people who will walk in your shoes in the future. Make sure you join us for this exciting national event.

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  1. Yup. Hiring an “MBA type” to run your fundraising or sponsorship department with no actual experience except the theory is like hiring a golf course architect who doesn’t golf.

  2. This just in…I just heard that a national charity has hired a person with zero actual fundraising experience as their National Director of Philanthropy and then has hired back the fundraising person they fired earlier this year to work as a consultant for Western Canada. Huh??? Strange.

    • Dave, I love the analogy with the golf course!! Perfect! And I laughed at the follow up post. I am curious to know who which organization it was!!!

      Stay well my friend.


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