Jan 30, 2009

Sponsorship Proposals: 10 ideas that will get you cash in this recession

You are organizing a big event. It can be an AIDS awareness event or a rock festival. You can be a student, a NGO or a society. To organize any event you require sponsorship money. And where will the money come from? It comes mostly from companies.

So you start approaching them and keep making sponsorship proposal presentations. As you know, it’s never easy to get cash out from a company, that too in this recession. 

What can you do to increase your hit rate? How can you make your pitch more attractive and lucrative to the person evaluating your presentation? How can you get him to shell out cash happily?

You can manage to get cash easily if you spend some time thinking and preparing over the following points. I have drawn this list from my personal experience of evaluating more than a hundred such proposals as head of marketing in my job. I once got a proposal to sponsor a sports event where the presenter kept explaining me how many types of games are going to be played, how many teams will play and what are the rules of each game. I, as a sponsor, did not want to know all that. The sponsor wants to know the following things:

1. Why should I sponsor this event? (benefit)
2. Who is going to come for the event? (audience)
3. Why will they come?
4. How do I target the audience?
5. What is the credential of the organizer?
6. Who else is sponsoring the event?
7. What is the cost? Does it justify the benefit?

Take cognizance of these before you start making your presentation slides.

1. What is the benefit?

A company sponsors an event for either brand awareness (also called brand building), lead generation or as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. You have to pitch on which of these objectives get fulfilled by sponsoring the event. If you are organizing a rock event and want Pepsi to sponsor it, you have to show how your event will create brand awareness on campus.

2. Who is the audience?

This is perhaps the most important thing for your sponsor. Tell him who is going to come, how many will come, what is their demographic profile (age, education, profession, income group). The chances that a premium real estate builder will sponsor a rock event are very low. That is because the company does not want to target teenagers.

3. Why will the audience come for the event?

You are promising Pepsi that 5,000 students will come for your event. Why should Pepsi believe it on face value? Show them how you will pull the crowd. How are you planning to promote the event? What is your media plan? How many ads are you giving, how many colleges are you approaching. Be specific, talk numbers.

4. How do I target the audience?
After you have assured Pepsi of 5,000 students you need to come up with options of doing brand building. Most of the proposals talk vaguely on what can be done at the venue. Be specific. Generate good ideas and put it up in the presentation. If you have 10 good ideas, share 7 and keep 3 to be used during negotiations stage. When he is lowering your price, show him some additional branding options and clinch the deal.

If you are offering to brand the stage, T-shirts and tickets with the logo of Pepsi, why not have some morphed image of how they will look in reality. Get it done in Adobe Photoshop. This will go a long way in showcasing the benefits.

5. What are the credentials of the organizer?
After getting convinced about the benefit and the audience, one question will still remain in the sponsor’s mind. Will the event get executed the way it is being promised? What is the experience of the organizer? To build credibility, you can share images from the same event last year, mention how successful it was and why, who were the sponsors last time and how many people came. If you are a first time organizer, this is going to be the toughest nut to crack. Be prepared.

6. Who are the other sponsors?
The sponsor would definitely want to know who else is going to sponsor the event. As a good practice, do not have two companies from the same industry. I have never sponsored any event where my competitor was already a sponsor.

7. What is the cost?
Bring up the cost at the end. If your value proposition is not very strong, then you should be ready to justify the cost. Do your numbers before you go for the pitch. If you are asking a sponsor to spend Rs. 500,000 to target 500 people with the objective of lead generation, then realize that the cost of a lead works out to Rs. 1000. The marketing manager will evaluate your proposal on this number and you need to justify the value you are offering in return.

Once you have addressed the aforementioned questions, you will be in a very good position to get the cash. In addition to the 7 points, you should also consider the following 3 points:

8. Know your competition
You are not the only college in town which is organizing an event. Observe what benefits other organizers are providing to their sponsors. How are they marketing their event? You should be in a position to convince that your offer is better than others.

9. Generate ideas to help the sponsor
You know more about your event than your sponsor. Hence, come up with innovative ideas to genuinely help your sponsor get the maximum bang for his buck. What places can be branded, what activities can be done at the venue, and so on. It would be a good idea, to spend some time understanding the business needs of the sponsor before you present to him. You can call the marketing manager and understand what his needs in the current markets are. You only get the money when you solve a problem.

10. Market your event

You genuinely thought that Pepsi should have sponsored your event in 2009. But they did not. So what do you do other than waiting for 2010 to approach Pepsi again?You send a CD full of images, videos, and highlights of how successful your event actually was. What were the ways the sponsor companies benefited from the event. Add a few testimonials. Add some PR clippings (if you got any). I am very sure next year Pepsi will come to you.

Follow these guidelines when you start making your next sponsorship proposal. Share your experiences with me. Leave a comment.