The gap between what brands want and what rights-holders are providing is expansive. Why? Both sides of the partnership are accountable for clearly communicating objectives and setting expectations, but the responsibility for success is on the seller’s shoulders.
The real nitty-gritty behind delivering what brands want is to have actionable expectations to get there. Our shortlist on how you can be better prepared to deliver what brands want comes from decades of sales experience on both sides of the selling table, consultation with experts, and industry research we recently conducted (to download the full report, click here.) By understanding what brands want, you set yourself up for success when trying to close deals while fostering true partnerships.
Here is a sneak peek at just some of the insights brands shared about how sales representatives can be better partners:
It should go without saying, but sellers need to be better prepared. Demonstrate that you know sponsorship needs by asking pointed, relevant questions. How will you compellingly present their brand? How will you reflect their social good ambitions? What did you discover in your research process? Have the details down pat before you walk in the door.
Reach will help align your sponsorship proposal with organizational goals. You need to know and reiterate the organization’s strategic initiatives, mission and goals. Answer the question: How is your sponsorship proposal supporting the organization’s strategic goals and creating a powerful statement that will resonate and inspire the audience?
We spoke with Kris Mathis, founder of SponsorPitch which bring brands and properties together through a technology platform. Our conversation was about how sponsorship sellers can up their game with digital and social assets, and creatively integrate sponsors. Kris identifies that your research will help you answer the ultimate goal. The goal is to identify “how you solve a real business problem for someone… we see sponsorship sellers that are really good at that. They’re researching and thinking inside the mindset of a sponsor and approaching them with a really solutions-oriented pitch.”
A big part of the research process is to ask questions. Don’t hold back! You’ll only be prepared to share research insights if you have them in the first place, and asking the source is a great way to start. As Kris noted, get inside their mindset. Follow all the threads and clues and be prepared to connect them. Bring your industry research, audience research and relevant reports to the game with you. Know their best sales and business development opportunities. Anticipate questions that will come up based on your research and have answers ready.
Anticipating needs means staying alert and predicting outcomes. Think of it like perfect service in a great restaurant. Excellent service is where the action isn’t noticeable. The staff are all on their toes filling your water glass and clearing your plates because they know in advance what to look for (it’s predictable!) before you notice. A great waiter will ask you if you want another glass of wine before your glass is empty because their cue isn’t an empty glass; it’s a half-full one. Apply this to your brands. Know what they will ask for before they notice they want it and provide it.
In our last blog, we spoke about good relationship management. Anticipating needs is about proactively cultivating your connection, listening to their needs, collaborating, and being solution-oriented. If you are in it for the long-term, you’ll intimately understand your brand’s needs.
Stay Tuned to Shifting Objectives
Brands may have shifting ambitions and objectives. They will expect you to know what those shifts are. For example, many brands have positive social good aspirations, which should be acknowledged in your communications and messaging. Be sure to polish up on what is essential to your brands and be ready to help them discover new opportunities for social good connection. Brands want to invest more in sponsorship. If you can show them a great opportunity, it will be mutually beneficial to the brand, your event or property, and your audiences.
Another example is making sure you are tuning in to how a brand is currently promoting brand loyalty and employee engagement. This is a top objective for brands, so anything you can do to enhance their goals is valuable to your relationship. We need to remember what is at the core of WHY companies sponsor events to understand how their needs are shifting in 2021. Brands want to make an emotional connection to consumers. They want to speak directly to their audience, creating opportunities for two-way dialogue.
We cannot stress this enough; customization is king. Identify every instance where you can present customized opportunities and proposals. Brands have seen it all, so cookie-cutter presentations and ideas tend to go unnoticed. Get creative and stay that way! It never hurts to brainstorm with everyone on your team about ways to wow the brand and its audience. Better to present quirky or offbeat ideas than to deliver something bland.
The best way to create custom ideas is to know thy partner. Custom ideas come from taking the time and energy to understand what your partner wants. Sponsorship sellers must practice active and engaged listening. The end-goal is to make sure the brand you are presenting to knows you took the time to consider their objectives, goals, and connect that with your event or property.
If you take these steps, brands will feel cared for, they’ll trust your work and everyone will know what to expect next. Once again, for a full report on Sponsorship Mastery’s extensive Sponsorship Brand Research Study, which reveals key expectations of sponsorship seekers, click here
About the Author
Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.