Let’s face it, relationships take work. Be it personal or professional, they all take work. It’s best if both parties give more than their share – or as my mother used to say if everyone gives at least 60% – you are sure to have more than 100% effort every time. Well, I’m pretty sure she was talking about the personal type of relationship.

Lucky for you I am going to talk about the Sponsorship relationship because I have found that this is a special relationship that so many tend to under-serve, it astonishes me.  Do you really want a one-night stand sponsorship or do you want a fully engaged, meaningful, mutual relationship that benefits both parties for the long term.

Sponsorship is not just about money. Yes, many events, organizations and non-profits need money to operate and produce spectacular programs and sponsorships are one way to achieve this.  Sponsorships (the companies providing them) are living, breathing entities with a clear business mission or message and they have connected with you or your organization because of the marketing value they can leverage for their brand.  This value includes the audience or demographic your event provides and many other platforms that the sponsor may not be able to obtain elsewhere or through traditional marketing efforts.

Sponsorship is not about your need; it’s about achieving the sponsor’s objectives. I am not going to tell you exactly how to find or seal sponsorship deals in this blog post; I do though want to educate you on how to care for and feed a sponsorship relationship from the start so that it grows and develops like all good relationships are supposed to.

Tips 101 on the Care and Feeding of Sponsors

  • determine exactly what the potential sponsors business objectives are and what campaigns they are running or launching, research is imperative
  • locate the correct person in the potential sponsoring organization to connect with
  • once you have researched, have a conversation if possible and listen; really listen to what the sponsors business objectives are to pick up more clues to spur creative leverage opportunities
  • determine if you have the resources to develop a more customized benefits plan and deliver it
  • offer to develop a customized package that meets their objectives as closely as you can with creative ideas for leveraging, in order to do this effectively you must put yourself in their shoes and think like them
  • communicate regularly with your sponsors, let them know when ads are printed, when articles come out, when other value-added opportunities arise
  • ask your sponsor how they can communicate with their company or customers about what they are doing with your event/organization, is there value-added they can provide to their audiences?
  • regularly touch base with sponsors during your event, stop by, see how its going for them, are they getting their objectives met based on what you offered them? If not, is there something you can do right now to enhance their experience?
  • after your event be sure to thank your sponsors for their contributions and partnership and provide them with a re-cap of the event with measurable results
  • set up a meeting to present the re-cap and to determine their satisfaction appropriately and discuss potential for the future

This is just a glimpse of simple things you can do to enhance your sponsorship relationships.  This is an important relationship.  To be really successful with sponsors you need to become a marketing partner for them.  You need to become an idea bank; a business developer; and advocate of their business.  You need to take them with you wherever you go – be it in your back pocket or perched on your shoulder as you travel about.

So, spend a little time making your relationships better, stronger, more mutually beneficial.  Be it personal or professional, you can’t lose by doing this.