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.

Jan 28, 2009

Pick of the Week: President Obama's Inaugural Speech

President Obama's inaugural speech was the most discussed event last week. Since then his speech has been analyzed in a lot of presentation and public speaking blogs. While some have analyzed his content, others have delved into delivery. Here are the four posts I found noteworthy:

Scott Schwertly
The shortest analysis where he culls out just 3 learnings for presenters. It is crucial to repeat the important stuff, connect with the audience and speak with confidence.

Bert Decker
"...expectation was his enemy" marks Decker as he analyzes the pros and cons of Obama's speech. Obama's speech wins on content and delivery but lacks any memorable phrase which will remain in public memory for long.

Doug Neff
Interestingly Doug does not talk about the nitty-gritties of Obama's speech at all. He focuses on something bigger.
"...the proof of a great presentation is really in the results." writes Doug. How pertinent. Obama crafts his speeches around his 'Big Idea' and ends up getting the results!

Andrew Dlugan
The most detailed analysis of Obama's speech is here. In this marathon post Andrew draws out 5 speech writing lessons for public speakers and presenters. They are:
1. Start with a strong, simple speech outline
2. Craft impactful lines
3. Employ the magical rule of three
4. Amplify words by drawing contrasts
5. Thread your theme throughout your speech

Read his post to find out how.

I personally think Obama's speech was very pertinent. He addressed the economic concerns at the very start and with utmost honesty. The entire speech was very inspiring and powerful.

"Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." an honest and candid Obama had remarked at the very start of his speech.

How does Obama inspire YOU as a communicator / presenter? Do leave a comment.

Jan 25, 2009

Honda “Kicks Out the Ladder”: Lessons for Presenters

Honda has recently come up with 3 documentaries as part of their corporate campaign. One of the videos is 'Kicking out the Ladder'. It talks about how people at Honda take up tough challenges and keep raising the bar. Keep pushing themselves to the limit. It's a powerful documentary with immense emotional appeal. Watch the video here:

Why do we like this video? What can presenters learn from it and implement to leave their audience impressed? This post aims to answer exactly that.

1. Generate curiosity at the start
The documentary title is catchy: 'Kick out the ladder'. It creates curiosity. It gets the audience asking for more.

Lesson #1: Start with a catchy phrase. Every presentation has a central idea and you should give this 'idea' a name. Example, you are the brand manager and are presenting to the top management on why you want to try social media marketing to promote the brand in year 2009. You definitely have an interesting story. Suppose you call it ‘P2P Marketing’?

2. Engage the audience
The documentary starts with asking a few unknown faces what "Kick out the ladder" means to them. They are common people. They share their thoughts, which like anchors guide the audience’s thinking in the desired direction.

Lesson #2:
Take your phrase ‘P2P Marketing’ forward by throwing in some ‘thought anchors’. Adding some humor here would be a good idea. Instead of putting up these anchors on a slide, ask your audience what they think ‘P2P Marketing’ stands for. This way you secure 100% attention and involvement (which is often the biggest challenge for presenters).

3. Infuse life into your "idea"
The documentary answers what "Kick out the ladder" means through real life examples from Honda. From the abstract it has now come to reality. It introduces its characters along with the real life stories. It is here that we are told what the "Kick out the ladder" means.

Lesson #3:
Give examples which the audience can relate to and thus bring your idea to life. To take our brand manager example forward, you can show how the brand will be perceived post your ‘P2P Marketing’.

4. Let your images do the talking

Notice that when the characters speak in the video, the supporting images help us visualize the thought. When they talk about how small Greensberg is and its industries are failing; the visuals show absence of civilisation, empty rail tracks. You start visualizing and understanding what Greensberg is really like. The images compliment the idea and deliver it successfully.

Lesson #4:
Choose visuals which compliment the idea and take it forward. Humans understand better when oral communication is clubbed with visual aids. For a child learning English, A for Apple (with an image) is not the same as A for Apple without it. Also remember to choose Apples and not Anancondas which they can't relate to.

5. End on a solid note

Leave a lasting impression… End on a high… Reinforce the core idea at the end.

Very often you get to hear these tips. But how does one end on a solid note?

This video does that successfully.

"If I think back 15 years, I don't know I ever said, we can't do that. I just can't ever imagine saying that. I have always said, okay. I am not assuming I can do it, I am assuming WE can do it."

End your presentations on a strong note. The end must reinforce the central idea else the audience will lose the plot. Do not introduce new ideas at the end. After ending remain silent for a while. Let the audience think. Let the audience absorb the force.

Do you have any more observations from the video? Please leave a comment. If you use these lessons in your next presentation, share your experiences by writing to me.

Jan 22, 2009

Mind your fonts when emailing presentations

I once received a sponsorship proposal from a rock event organiser. The presentation came to me by email. While going through the slides I saw this:

(Slide # 1)

Don't think I have cropped the picture, this is the complete slide as seen in slideshow. One more slide from the same presentation:

(Slide # 2)

As you can see, the characters are getting cut. The first impression you get is that the sender has not even taken care to see the slides in the slideshow (and asks for sponsorship money, beat that!) Has the sender really been careless? Or can this happen for any other reason that the sender is not even aware of?

Absolutely. Assuming the sender has taken due care, this problem can occur when the presentation is sent by mail and the receiving computer does not have the 'special' font which the sender has used. In this case, my laptop did not have the 'whatever' font which the sender had used in these slide to impress me.

The moral of the story is either

1. Use standard fonts that would be available in most computers like Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma


2. Embed the fonts into your presentation: Go to Powerpoint Options in PowerPoint 2007 (or Tools > Options in 2003). Under the 'Save' Tab, check 'Embed TrueType fonts' before saving and emailing the presentation.

What are the problems have YOU faced when emailing presentations?

Related post:
How to make effective sponsorship proposals

Jan 21, 2009

Pick of the Week - 1

"I need to make a presentation tomorrow. I don't have time. Let me start typing. That way I will get ideas."

If you have been doing this, then you are not alone. Most of us have done this at some point of time. Sadly however, most of us are still doing this.
Here is a post from Bert Decker. This is my pick of the last week. (Every week I will share my favorite post from the week gone by).

Bert Decker stresses on two things:

1. Not to reach out for the PowerPoint first

He says:"First, figure out what your message is - what is your Point Of View, what Action do you
want people to take and what are the Benefits (for them - not you)."

He adds: "Once you have your message developed - with three key points, THEN you can figure out how you are going to frame the experience to influence people to buy into your message. And THEN you go to the PPs (Powerpoint), and create using Nancy's and Garr's ideas."

2. Use Black Slides
He urges people to use black background in PowerPoint citing some genuine benefits. I have rarely seen people use black. We always drift to white or blue.
Before you make your next presentation, try a black background.
One word of caution: When there is more talking and less text black works great. Do not use black when your slides are text heavy. You will jeopardise visibility.

Do you use black backgrounds? Yes / No. What has been your experience?

Jan 20, 2009

Sponsorship Proposals Checklist

I am the marketing head for a mid-size company hence I get a lot of sponsorship proposals in my inbox. Mostly for sponsoring sports & cultural events. Proposals sent through email have to be more explanatory.Most of the proposals I have been receiving lack thought and structure. One needs to plan out the flow of the presentation even before opening Powerpoint.

Here is a checklist you can use to make such proposals:

1. What is it all about?What - Introduce the event. What is going to happen?

Where, When, Why - These details are very crucial. Especially focus on the why. Why are you doing this event year on year? Share the story with the marketer whose money you are after. Very few people share this with a prospective sponsor.

For whom - This is the most important information for a prospective sponsor. You get the money only if the audience is the Target Group for the sponsor. Why should a real estate firm selling high end villas (mostly to CEOs) sponsor a rock show which will be attended by youngsters?

Reach - Do not forget to mention how many people came last year and how many more are expected this time around.

Uniqueness - You might to conducting an event which even other clubs/groups organize. They might also approach the sponsor for funds. What separates you from the rest? Why is your event special?

Promotion - It's great to hear the plan that 5,000 people are expected. People in which the sponsor is interested. But what's the guarantee? Tell the sponsor how will you pull in the crowd. What are your exact plans?

History - Share the highlights and images of the event last year. Without images and videos there is nothing tangible in your pitch. It's all imaginary.

2. What's in it for the Sponsor? (Benefits)

Benefit - Why should the sponsor give you funds? What is his gain out of all this? Spend some time answering this question before you meet the sponsor. If you are confident that it makes economic sense in sponsoring the event, then your confidence will help clinch the deal.

Branding opportunity: Show how your sponsor's logo will look on the stage, merchandise, etc. It's a powerful technique. Do not just say, we will put up the logo here and here.... Put it up (using Photoshop or some other software) and bring it to life. Let the sponsor see his brand on the large backdrop.
3. Who are You?Share with the prospective sponsor your credentials. If you are doing the event the first time this become very important. If you are doing it the second or third time, get feedback from last years' sponsors and share it in the presentation to this year's prospective sponsor. Make him feel comfortable about the fact that you are capable of pulling off the event. Planning is all fine but God lies in execution. Your plans might be great, but you should convince the sponsor that you can execute if flawlessly.

4. What is the Cost?How much does it cost to sponsor the event. Do not keep a lot of margin for bargain. The more you yield and lower your price, the more your credibility goes down. Be ready to justify that the price is right.

5. What should I Do?
The proposal should end with a call to action for the sponsor. This is especially true for presentations sent online where you are not there standing to clarify doubts or ask for the cheque. So remember to add "Call Ashish for more details at this number..." or something similar. Make him do an action just after the presentation ends.

The last thing. The starting 10 -15 minutes matter the most in your presentation. Keep the content relevant and keep it crisp and short.

Before you start typing your next proposal, use this checklist to gather your thoughts.
For more on Sponsorship Proposals read my detailed post. If you wish to read more I recommend this article. If you also make or evaluate sponsorship proposals share your observations with me.

Jan 18, 2009

'Yes We Can' learn from Barack Obama

Barack Obama did it. LK Advani is doing it.

BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate for Indian Elections 2009, LK Advani is following Barack Obama's footsteps.
He has a website, a blog, a mega budget adwords campaign and he is doing social networking to target the youth of India.

But, why am I discussing politics on this presentations blog?
LK Advani's website has 3 lessons for presenters.

1. Start Well

2. Avoid Information Overload

3. Be Clear

Start Well

The landing page is clear and simple. The
candidate's image is followed by a small introductory write up. The candidate greets you with a recorded audio speech grabbing complete attention. He delivers his two minute speech to his target audience well. Scope for improvement: A video would have done a better job.

Avoid Information Overload
The Home page is a damper after a good start. The lessons from Obama's website have not been taken at all. One needs to reduce clutter & club similar information (be more organised). There are 29 items on LK Advani's home page which fight for your attention. His various public speeches could have been clubbed under one head.

Be Clear
You (the voter; the audience) would like to know what Obama thinks on Technology. In 3 bullet points, Obama gets h
is views across. On the other hand, Advani talks in a 292 word essay. He might have a stronger argument but will still lose to Obama, if they were fighting for the same post.

So, start well, avoid information overload and be clear to win your audience's vote

Do you have more lessons to share?

Jan 14, 2009

Checklist for Presentations

You are going to make a presentation in your office or to a client. To a small group or a large audience. Here is a small checklist to help you improve your presentation.

I. Pre-Presentation
1. Why are you making the presentation (objective)?
2. How much do you know about the audience?
3. Where will you make the presentation?
4. What does the audience expect?
5. What is the main idea/ theme?
6. Is the flow making sense?
7. Are you prepared for the obvious questions?
8. What should the audience remember?
9. Have you rehearsed well?

II. Presentation
1. Run the presentation once before you start.
2. Use a wireless presenter & mike. Atleast use a wireless mouse.
3. Start confidently and capture attention. Remember, confidence comes with knowledge & preparation.
4. Have an agenda slide. Keep the audience informed. Tell them how long you will take.
5. Engage the audience. Invite questions all through.
6. Share a handout with the audience. Tell this to your audience before starting.
7. Summarise at the end.
8. Don't rehearse while going to the venue. It adds to your nervousness.

III. Post-Presentation
1. What went well and what did not?
2. Evaluate your presentation on the pre-presentation checklist. (Eg. was your understanding of the audience right?)
3. Was the audience able to get the point?
4. How was the audience participation?

Most importantly, make sure you don't repeat your mistakes.
I am sure you have your own checklist in mind. What do you do before making a presentation? Let me know.

Update: You might like to read on 'How to plan your presentation better?' by clicking here.