How to gain and retain sponsors
Put simply – it’s tough. Consumer sentiment is low and businesses are spending on the essentials only. It’s all about sales….generating sales leads and generating sales.
One of the most important assets a club has is its community – its players and volunteers and their families. These are the target market of the local retailers and of course the multinationals as well.
In today’s society, people are time poor, have limited budgets and are being bombarded by advertising messages, so it’s hard to get through without spending a lot of money, particularly for the little guys. This is where the club community holds great value for local business.
Through involvement with the club, a local business can get direct promotion to its target market.
When developing your sponsorship package, along with specific branding opportunities eg naming rights to the U14 team, include opportunities for the sponsor to gain access to the club’s community.
This may be invitations to key club events such as a
- pre-season planning meeting
- season launch,
- presentation days/nights
- a special golf day or lunch to allow them to network directly with other sponsors or ‘target’ members of the club community
- Identify the people within the club community that are of most interest to them and provide a personal introduction
- Letter or email to all players
- Ads on the club website
Identify specific opportunities for the sponsor to be seen by as many as possible as good blokes or ladies.
For example at club events:
- Let them shout the bar for one hour, 30 minutes
- Present player awards (sponsor to provide the prize)
- Present volunteer awards (sponsor to provide the prize)
How to create sponsorship packages:
- Identify how you can offer access to your club community to sponsors
- Ensure there is an up-front fee for access to your community – not a commission on sales.
- Package access to the community with other branding opportunities like naming rights
- Look for opportunities to work collaboratively to increase the reach of the sponsorship and reduce the burden on volunteer time to secure it
- Look at what is already in place
More and more, pure branding ie naming rights to teams, competitions etc is being valued by sponsors less. It is very hard to quantify the return on investment. However being seen as part of the community is a very important asset.
Given this, suggest the best approach is to package branding assets with networking assets.
Step 1 – create a list of your club assets
How may people and who they are that you can promote a message to
What mediums you can promote the message by
- Branding of competitions
- Branding on other match-day uniforms coolers, signs, water bottles etc
- Branding on the website
- Promotion to database via email or social media
- Direct networking opportunities
Also identify what the club spends money on eg balls, uniforms, fertiliser, paint soft drink, beer, sausage etc etc. Being able to include guaranteed sales in an offer is a big asset.
Step 2 – understand the value proposition for each asset
Typically we focus on trying to secure funds for the representative teams or the senior teams as they represent the greatest costs. Access to the senior team of say 15 blokes, not worth a great deal, access to 200 juniors and their families is worth good dollars. Sponsors are less interested in the elite and want mass exposure throughout the whole club community.
Understand that your competitor is not the soccer club down the road, it is the local newspaper. You are selling the same thing – promotion to their target market.
Where a club has an advantage is in direct sales leads presented in a positive light, giving the sponsor the opportunity to be seen as part of the local community.
Step 3 – look for opportunities to work together
The bigger the pot, the bigger the reward and the less amount of energy required to achieve it. Ten clubs with 10 volunteers all trying to achieve the same result from the same prospective sponsors, plus competing with local schools and charities. Whereever possible, clubs within an association would benefit from collaborating with each other to increase the community on offer. This also puts you a part from the other people knocking on their door.
Step 4 – Look at the promotional opportunities already in place through Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket plus your local association.
- Powerade Loyalty Program
- Canterbury Clothing
- Street Smart Energy
Step 4 – Due diligence
Ensure that any new sponsorship doesn’t jeopardise one that already exists.
Always offer your current sponsors, club members the first opportunity to secure a sponsorship.