The value of a sponsorship is not in the assets, but the ideas. Mastery of sponsorship is demonstrated by selling and buying ideas, not assets. Sponsorship sales teams who adopt an idea-based approach are more successful and confident in their work. They are not intimidated by anything that comes their way. They are hungry for a challenge because they are confident in their ability to solve the problem creatively.
Someone who has mastered sponsorship sales sells customized ideas. As Gerry Tabio, CEO of Creative Resources Group, has said, “If you can do it for Huggies and for Heineken, it’s generic. The more custom the idea, the better the results are for your sponsors”. Gerry Tabio is a marketing and sales master. He and his partner Sally Beamer authored the book “Creating Demand” to share an approach they have refined over decades to help marketers develop customized, novel ideas that meet specific objectives and vastly improve the likelihood of success. Much of what I’m sharing today has been influenced by what I have learned from Gerry and Sally.
Someone who has mastered sponsorship sales consistently exhibits two behaviors – they do homework, and they intently listen. The first behavior is being prepared to investigate and do your homework so you can begin to understand the sponsor’s business without making it the sponsors job to teach you. You create value by being prepared and doing your homework to understanding the sponsor. The second behavior is your ability to listen for the sponsors projects and objectives – and ability to decipher what they want you to make happen. Listening helps you zero-in on objectives and help clarify what they actually want.
Both 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 the 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.
But what happens when the idea bank goes dry? What is the most effective way to ignite your creativity? When you are running a business and need an idea by end of day, your creative genius may not be up to the task.
Idea generation is a daily practice. Begin by emulating creative people. We know creative people are prolific, they are not committed to one specific idea or element so there is an outpouring of quantity. Elton John listens to new music every day, Stephen King writes daily, Bill Gates reads incessantly. They gather information and when the time arrives to create, they reflect on the data collected to create bold and expansive ideas.
Do not look for ideas to repurpose, look for inspiration. Gathering ideas and information is an essential part of the creative brainstorming process. Be aware of what other people are doing and the unique ideas that have been successful so you can summon those ideas, concepts, and stories when the moment arrives.
Idea generation requires a process. When I need an idea for a sponsor, client, or my business, or when I’m feeling overwhelmed or my thoughts are cluttered, I grab my colorful markers, hang my enormous post-it note paper on the wall and begin making lists of what’s on my mind, then I’m able to see where I need to form an idea and what’s most important. Creating a framework for idea generation and putting it into action daily strengths your creative thinking muscles.
The right ideas emerge from focus. If you are like me, you’ve spent valuable time developing ideas or solutions for the wrong problems or opportunities. By making a long list and choosing the most relevant points organizes your thinking and focuses your attention on what’s most important.
Getting started is the hard part. I like to collect all the information I’ve gathered from a perspective sponsor or client and organize it into a process call Positives, Potentials, and Concerns (PPC) that I learned from Gerry Tabio years ago. I consider what is the problem to be solved or the opportunity to explore? Most, importantly what is the desired outcome. I have learned that making a long list is a good place to start because often the first thought said is not always the objective to focus on and it’s only through making a long list that we brainstorm on the right topic. From there I select 3 statements from each list and share them with the sponsor/client for their feedback in determining what’s truly most important.
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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.