Q&A with 2020 Sponsorship Mastery Summit Thought Leader Gerry Tabio

Gerry Tabio is Founder and President of Creative Resources Group. He founded the company in 1990 and has since trained thousands of sales leaders to adopt and facilitate a creative process to control their business and create sustained revenue growth.

I first met Gerry during my media days. I was transformed by what I learned from Gerry, personally and professionally. What he taught me changed the way I think about and approach solving problems, creating opportunities, and developing plans.

The future of sponsorship will require events and sponsors to work collaboratively to develop marketing ideas that creatively connect to the audience and brand, extend existing campaigns, and are measurable. To hone our skills, we invited Gerry Tabio to lead a mighty session at this year’s Sponsorship Mastery Summit that will forever change your thinking. With sponsorship marketing in mind, Gerry and I had an in-depth conversation about the industry’s future and how we can show-up as true marketing partners.

Paula Beadle: Creative Resources specialty is working with individuals and teams to become true marketing partners with their clients to create better results. How would you describe a “true” sponsorship partner?

Gerry Tabio: It’s important that a true marketing partner always understands the client’s point of view. Throughout the process, sellers should have the mindset as if they worked at the sponsor’s company. If you can surrender to that concept, you can understand and represent the partner more fully. Your job is to understand and accomplish the sponsor objective. Once everyone agrees on the objective, and only then, are you able to turn around and look at the tools and assets that can be put to work. A true marketing partner takes the client’s point of view first then discovers how to accomplish the goals.

PB: How does that thinking apply to what marketing partners are currently experiencing in the market?

GT: There are thousands of marketers that sell communication tools, sponsorships, rights holders, etc., and their keys concerns are “how am I going to sell my tools” and “how am I going to make sure that sponsors don’t cancel their sponsorship?” The key part of being a partner is remembering to call to listen, rather than calling to talk.

PB: What are some key behaviors that marketing partners exhibit?

GT: Two behaviors come to mind – homework and listening. The first behavior is being prepared to investigate and do your homework so you can begin to understand the sponsor without making it the sponsor’s job to teach you. You create value by being prepared and doing your homework to understand the client. The second behavior is your ability to listen for the client’s objectives – and the ability to decipher what they want you to make happen. Listening helps you zero-in on objectives and clarify what they actually want. For example, you may visit the doctor’s office with a vague description of your ailment, but it is the doctor who disseminates the information and gets you to the end-goal and results faster.

Both of these behaviors help you understand “what’s the problem we’re trying to solve,” then come up with ideas or solutions to reach the objectives. When sponsorship is finally presented, it won’t be a generic sheet of assets, it will be a persuasive campaign. The client needs to feel like you invented that program for them.

PB: It’s common for people to want readymade ideas to speed along the process or because developing customized ideas is a challenge for many. Besides learning how to facilitate the Creative Resources Process, what other advice would you give?

GT: We have a tremendous amount of respect for true creative geniuses such as Mozart or Picasso. They walk amongst us even today, but we also know, when you’re trying to run a business you need an idea Tuesday at 8 pm and that genius may not be in the mood. So essentially, we need to emulate what they do, and we need to do that in a process. The process is really an imitation of creative people. After studying creatives over the years, we’ve learned a lot about their process. One shared skilled of creative people is quantity – they are prolific. Stephen King can’t stop writing, Picasso has 20,000 sculptures – there is an outpouring of quantity. What you’ll notice is creative people don’t get married to one specific concept or element.

What the process does is train a facilitator to allow quantity to be created, develop a long list of ideas. The second part of the process is input. Consider, Stephen King reads constantly, Elton John listens to new music every day from new artists, attorneys read old cases. You have to consume information and ideas into your brain, so you can summon those ideas, concepts, and stories. Become aware of how other people are doing sponsorships – subscribe to magazines, campaigns, tools from other marketing leaders. So, when the moment comes, you can naturally summon those ideas. I’m not looking for ideas to repurpose – I’m looking for inspiration.

PB: What is one marker for a company that successfully adopts an idea-based approach?

GT: David Kelly founded Ideo, a design company that has worked with some of the biggest companies in the industry, including Apple. They are at the forefront of design – the vanguard of design thinking, and he is a real luminary. He wrote a book called “Creative Confidence,” and notes that a company that has become good at creating ideas is confident. They are not intimidated by anything that comes from a client. They consider anything you throw at them a new, exciting challenge. They are hungry for a challenge and can solve any problem creatively.

PB: Tell me about “Persuasive Campaigns” – what does that mean to you, and why is it important to sponsorship sellers?

GT: When you look at great advertising campaigns, (which you should be looking at), what we’ve noticed is the great campaigns that produce results for the brands have three ingredients to success:

  1. A name. The name gives the campaign strength in two ways. First, it gives the campaign cohesiveness and reminds you of what the campaign is about. It keeps you focused. Second, it gives the campaign longevity enabling you to connect with a brand that you can work with over a longer period of time.
  1. A persuasive message. It delivers a persuasive point, either to build or activate the brand.
  2. Targeted communication delivery. Communications tools are chosen to target the relevant consumer whether it’s digital, broadcast, or events are used individually or collectively.

PB: Your Sponsorship Mastery Summit session will undoubtedly be interactive and educational. I’m delighted attendees will have an opportunity to learn from you. What are you hoping the audience takes away from your session?

GT: Custom, Custom, Custom. Sellers who have mastered sponsorship create custom ideas. If you can do it for Huggies and do it for Heineken, it’s generic. It breaks my heart when I go to events and see generic tools when there’s always an opportunity for customization. The more custom the idea, the higher the value and the better the results.

More about Gerry Tabio: Gerry is a committed teacher and coach. He is passionate about the process of creating and developing marketing ideas. Gerry took on the challenge of adapting the process most people know as Creative Problem Solving, to a real-world marketing application. The Creative Resources Process emerged out of the pursuit to generate marketing ideas that create value. The Creative Resources Process, honed over the last 30 years, is described in the book, Creating Demand, authored by Gerry Tabio and Sally Beamer. The book is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step guide on how to generate cool, custom, and effective marketing ideas.

Gerry Tabio will be one of the many talented speakers, trainers, and facilitator’s at the 2020 Sponsorship Mastery Summit. Register today to grab your virtual ticket!