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Sponsorship proposal – Tips for writing an effective sponsorship proposal for your club or team: Part I

Sponsorship season is here. Surveys and studies show that the majority of companies are making their decisions about sponsorship in the 4th quarter; that’s NOW! Is your club ready to submit a sponsorship proposal that will stand out from the rest?

If you follow a few simple steps you can increase the chances of your sponsorship proposal being taken into consideration.

Know your audience: Do the research!

Take the time to understand a company’s mission, goals, objectives, and core values. Explore their website, blogs and social networking sites in order to learn about them, their products and services, and their target market. Look for things which will help give you insight, and ideas, into how a company can benefit from sponsoring your club or team. Spend time reading the Chairman’s Letter or Executive Summary in the Annual Report. Scan the Investor Relations section. Each of these will give you valuable insight into the business objectives, goals, performance in achieving goals, strategy and markets.

Great areas to research on a company’s website are any section entitled – Philanthropy, Stewardship, Outreach, Community, or Partnership. These deal directly with what a company is doing to support initiatives, or organizations, in order to advance their objectives, core values, demonstrate social responsibility, or support causes they deem important to their community, their image, or target audience. It will clue you in to the type of organizations a company supports, why they support them, and how it fits into their overall mission, goals and objectives.

Performing the research enables you to understand the key benefits your club or team should highlight in a sponsorship proposal; bringing me to the next recommendation.

The benefit you can deliver: “What’s in it for them?”

Framing your sponsorship proposal by focusing on the benefit you can deliver puts you ahead of most proposals companies receive. In background research writing this blog, it appears the number one complaint from companies regarding sponsorship proposals is that the organization doesn’t understand what they are trying to accomplish. You can avoid falling into this trap, and your sponsorship proposal being pushed aside, by clearly highlighting how you can help a prospective sponsor achieve their goals. Identifying who a company currently sponsors, business goals and objectives, community and social initiatives, and how these initiatives help them achieve their business goals and objectives, while supporting their core values, you automatically have insight into what is important to them. Hence, you can highlight what you can do:

Example What it means? How you can help?
“As part of our core values we will continue to educate the public on the importance of healthy, active lifestyles.” Directly reflects image, core value, goals and objectives of evangelizing importance of healthy activity Cycling is a rapidly growing segment providing numerous health benefits. Sponsoring our club will help support your company’s of core value and objectives. Group rides, newsletters, web presence, social media, clinics, events geared to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and will help provide additional visibility and recognition for your company, products and brand.
“We will open a new store in an effort to gain market share and increase sales in North County.” Need to gain market share and increase sales. Requirement to increase awareness of new store, drive traffic and increase sales and market share. Partnership with us can help increase consumer awareness and traffic to your new store; leading to increased sales. Our clubs’ activities, rides, participation in charity and fundraising events, and FREE clinics will promote your business in North County. These efforts supplemented by our club communications, web site, relationship with other local businesses can help increase visibility for your new location.

I have put a lot in front of you today regarding sponsorship proposal tips, research and focusing on the benefits your club or team can deliver. I would love to hear your opinions and comments on this topic.  Feel free to leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail – al@sponsormycyclingclub.com.

On Tuesday, September 28th I will finish this series with a post describing recommended structure and organization of a sponsorship proposal.

Thanks again for visiting.

Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down!”

Al

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Sponsorship proposal – Tips for writing an effective sponsorship proposal for your club or team: Part II

Structure & Organization: Make it clear and straightforward

Picking up where I left off in – “Cycling sponsorship proposals – Tips for writing an effective sponsorship proposal for your club or team, Part I” ; now that you understand the importance of research and focusing the sponsorship proposal on benefits, let’s take a look at the basic structure. It consists of 10 components.

Cover Letter – provides an introduction and high level overview of your club or teams sponsorship proposal.  I view this as a “mini-executive summary.” In 3 – 4, short, paragraphs you need to provide a quick synopsis of why you have submitted a sponsorship proposal, why the reader (and company should be interested), a basic knowledge of the company’s business, the benefit sponsorship can provide. Include an explanation of when you will be contacting them to follow up.

Table of Contents – lists the contents of what is included by section and page number.

Executive Summary – provides an overview of the proposal. The executive summary provides more detail than the cover letter. Include a brief overview of who you are, and an explanation of why you are contacting them. Be sure you exhibit a basic understanding of their company, products or services, and the benefits of sponsorship to them (increased traffic, increased sales, increased brand awareness and brand loyalty….). Your research will allow you to align the benefits your club or team provide with their specific goals, objectives, core values, community initiatives, etc. This is also a great place to describe the benefit your other sponsors may have received through partnership with you. Provide an overview of what you are proposing – how much, for what period of time, etc. Lastly, close the executive summary by thanking them for their time.

Benefit to Sponsor – This section of the proposal should describe specific benefits to the sponsor. Go into detail describing how your club or team would promote the company’s brand, products, or services. List events, races, fundraisers, group ride schedule, meetings. Provide visuals of your website, blogs, social media tools (include URL’s), and newsletters. Discuss where the sponsor’s logo would be displayed on club or team clothing, on web sites, in communications and collateral. Continually, tie everything back to the specific value the company will receive; explaining how sponsorship will support their mission, goals, objectives, initiatives. If your cycling club or team is a 501(c)(3), include the benefits of corporations sponsoring non-profit organizations in this section.

Budget – Include a budget to illustrate how funding will be used.

Proposal Offer – Describe what you are proposing in this section. If you have various levels of sponsorship make sure you provide a CLEAR description of what the company will receive, at each level. Be very specific. And, of course, include the benefit of each sponsorship level. Example – your biggest sponsor typically get’s the largest amount of space on your club or team jersey. This means more visibility and exposure, which can lead to greater traffic, awareness, and sales. Got it?

Overview of club or team – Excellent place to give a BRIEF overview of your club or team, activities, awards, accolades, partnerships, initiatives, etc. Weave in the value of cycling to sponsors. If you need help refer to my previous blog entries “Using Quotes and References”. Again, take the time to describe the purpose of your club, and illustrate how your mission, goals, and objectives, correlate to the sponsors.

Sponsors & Affiliations – List, or depict graphically using logo’s, companies, groups and organizations that sponsor or work with your club. Include quotes from companies describing the benefits they received from sponsoring your club here. It gives you credibility, while giving the prospective sponsor ideas of what they can expect from sponsorship.

Call to Action – Good way to close the proposal describing the action you would like the company to take. Again, take the time to summarize what your club or team is offering and benefits. Let them know when you will be following up, and thank them for their time.

Appendix – any additional information in this section – i.e. sample copy of contracts, news clippings, articles, list of URL’s, etc.

I know it seems like a lot of work, but it can pay dividends by helping differentiate your club or teams sponsorship proposal from all of the others! Not to mention, submitting a well written, organized, and sponsor focused (on the benefit to the sponsor) can help “open the door”, leading to in depth partnership discussions.

Let me know your thoughts on sponsorship proposals. After all that is a very important component of the sponsorship process; which is the focus of my blog!

Stay tuned for FREE e-book; should be available in about 3 weeks.

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down!”

Al

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“There are a kazillion amateur teams at all levels of ability whose sponsors provide everything from a case of product to a full complement of clothing and equipment……The process of acquiring sponsorship at this level isn’t easy. These teams won’t produce the same results as the professional teams, nor will they enjoy a great reach into the market, making them a tough sell to prospective sponsors.”

“At this level, the process of acquiring sponsorship usually begins with one proactive member of the club/team who takes the initiative to write a letter…….It will be sent to one, two, or several local businesses and will contain a proposal for sponsorship that includes some explanation about the sport. There will be a list of the benefits of sponsoring a cycling team and, most importantly, a request for money.”

Jamie Smith, author – Roadie the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer

I thoroughly enjoyed Jamie Smith’s book “Roadie: the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer” because it explains why, as cyclists, we engage in what non-cyclists would deem, eccentric behavior and obsessive habits. However, what particularly hit home was Jamie’s description of the process of securing sponsors. As team and club cyclists, we spend a lot of time designing the “perfect” kit, to distinguish ourselves from other cyclists. Are we spending the same amount of time and effort developing requests for funding? Shouldn’t we?

Think about it. How often do you receive an unsolicited phone call, mail, or e-mail, offering you a product or service? Do you tend to pay closer attention, and be more responsive to offers which are customized specifically to you, versus those which clearly know nothing about you?

It is the same for companies receiving unsolicited proposals for sponsorship funding. So, how do you separate yourself from the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of organizations vying for funding?  Is a boiler plate, vanilla, proposal really going to get it done? Probably Not!

By following the same basic rules used in the corporate sector – knowing your audience and tailoring your message – you can vastly improve your chances of securing sponsorship and funding.

The following are recommendations you can keep in mind to create effective sponsorship proposals, helping you achieve the desired results you want – securing funding!

  1. be accurate – make sure you have the right contact, and you spell their name, and the company name correctly.
  2. customize it – add their logo to your template; or, add the prospective sponsors name to the title – “XYZ Cycling Club sponsorship proposal for ABC Electronics”
  3. focus on THEM – the benefit and value THE SPONSOR will gain from sponsoring your club. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU, IT IS ABOUT THE VALUE TO THE SPONSOR.
  4. demonstrating a basic understanding of their company, products, (and, maybe even their industry) sends a very positive message. It gives you credibility, and shows you have taken the time to learn about them. Secondarily, what you learned through your research provides an excellent foundation for explaining the value your club can provide.
  5. reference relevant information which might be of interest to them – if their target demographic and market aligns with cycling’s demographic – state it, and why it is important!
  6. differentiation is VERY important – anything describing why your club is different from the other organizations makes you stand out, giving you an immediate advantage
  7. reference stories and quotes are always helpful. Including a quote from a happy, existing sponsor, is an endorsement for your club; it is validation that sponsoring your club can deliver value.
  8. be creative – present ideas of how your club can promote the sponsors brand and products – will their logo be prominent on your jersey, website, banner, newsletters, e-mail, etc.? Explain why this is important. Also, discuss the value your club provides by aligning with their – market, customers, or initiatives (“green”, or employee health & wellness programs are good ones)
  9. provide clear options – ensure the prospective sponsor can clearly understand the various options. Include descriptions of various levels, cost, benefit for each.
  10. give direction – provide a call to action describing what you want the sponsor to do – contact you, schedule a meeting, review a contract?

Remember, anything your club can do to demonstrate an understanding, knowledge, and value goes a long way in differentiating you from others requesting funding and sponsorship.

Thanks for visiting. Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

References

Roadie: the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer – Jamie Smith, p.134 – 135

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