Even if you have a fantastic website, blog, and Twitter account, describing everything your club or team does, you are not guaranteed your sponsorship proposal will be seen, or be successful in securing funding.
Simply tweeting “We are seeking sponsors for 2011” via Twitter, publishing your sponsorship proposal on your web site, or sending out generic sponsorship proposals and letters blindly is typically NOT going to cut it for securing sponsors. Don’t get me wrong, you might get some interest, and you may be lucky enough to land a few. But, are you really leveraging available tools to help you connect with companies that could have a genuine interest in sponsoring your club or team?
Here’s the deal, social media tools as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to name a few, can provide you with the information needed to identify companies that can be prospective sponsors. I’m not talking about building a fancy, whizz bang, web or blog site, or blasting OUT a 100 Twitter updates into cyberspace to TELL what your club or team is doing. No, what I am describing is a way to use all of the tools we use in our personal lives to LISTEN to what companies are saying, UNDERSTAND their potential needs, and IDENTIFY how sponsorship could augment their existing advertising and PR campaigns to solve a problem. By LISTENING, your club or team, can gather valuable information, quickly determining which companies might be interested in hearing YOUR story. This isn’t about driving people to your website, blog, etc….sure, that’s important – LATER! To be successful in the sponsorship process, you need to prospect, find companies, and people in those companies, that have a need, and want to hear your story. By gathering intelligence you do a few things – you qualify which company might have a need, who within the company is driving and making decisions, and therefore might be the best person to establish a relationship with, approach, and be amenable to your story!
In the past, most of us would gather information about potential prospects by – buying lists, reading the newspaper, identifying who is moving into town, expanding, hiring people, releasing a new product, etc. But in today’s information age, by the time you see this information in traditional forms; it’s old news; everybody already knows it! However, if your club or team is using tools like search.twitter, blogsearch.google, while researching company pages on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, you are already a step ahead. Taking this type of approach enables you to achieve a few things – a) you have identified valuable information early, and, b) you are able to begin thinking of how to align your club or teams value with the company you are investigating. The whitepaper “Selling in the Age of Social Media” states that using social media can enable you to “zero in on companies that contain the specific criteria best aligned with our products”; in the case of your club or team, your products are the benefits you provide.
So, here are 5 quick tips for your club or team to identify, connect, engage, qualify, advance, and close sponsorship opportunities, faster and more effectively than you ever have before.
Use tools to find companies that are prime sponsorship candidates – experiencing change; new products being released, targeting new market segments, expanding, growing, relocating, cost cutting initiatives, ……these are all signals of change, and signs that sponsorship can offer potential value.
“who is saying what, where, when, why and how” – Listen, and observe, “what they are saying?” And, equally important, “who is saying it?”, using “which tools?” This gives you clues into what is of concern or interest, who you might approach, and how you might approach them.
Customize your approach - Craft your messages around the problem they are trying to solve, or the desire they have to change something (i.e. – increase market share, increase visibility, increase sales……). And, establish a dialog using the tools they are most comfortable with. If the person you are interested in engaging “Tweets”, follow them, and communicate via Twitter.
Be a “private eye” – no, not literally! Use social media tools to investigate companies; identify who you might know, what their activities are, groups and communities they belong to, interests, etc..Determine how you can use this information to advance your sponsorship efforts.
Referrals still work wonders (and always will) – Investigate if you, a club member, or teammate, knows “someone-who-knows-someone”. You know what to do if you know them. In the case of the latter, ask for an introduction.
The more you understand about a company; their business and sponsorship goals and objectives; the better your chances of identifying companies where your club or teams value will resonate most! In addition, you are also quickly identifying who within the organization will be most receptive to your messages. Lastly, by using social media tools to their full potential, you can ensure maximum effectiveness for your club or teams sponsorship proposal.
Leveraging social media tools to improve selling effectiveness (which is essentially what you are doing during the sponsorship process) is a rapidly evolving, and highly discussed area. I found two very helpful whitepapers on the subject – “Selling in the Age of Social Media” by InsideView, and “Making Social Media Effective for Business” by Impact Interactions. Both whitepapers will provide your club and team with useful information to leverage social media for success.
As mentioned, this is an extremely HOT topic. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, “keep the rubber side down!”
P.S. – The FREE e-Book, “Top Ten Tips For Securing Cycling Sponsorship”, will be available on our site next week!