Nov 30, 2009 at 05:42 PM
written by

Odds & Ends

From time to time, we have random thoughts on sponsorship that don't necessarily fit into a neat blog post... here goes.

Competing for Sponsorship.

In a meeting last week with a major agency, we discussed the idea of RFP's. The idea being something like - why can't sponsorship act like an old fashion business plan competition or RFP process. In some ways, we're doing the same stuff. Students want funding for great idea-infused business plans and properties want cash and services that will help them fulfill their property's vision. In both cases, there are often strings attached (i.e. business plans must use cash for business, use sponsors products, etc.).

Tons of stuff show up on our whiteboard, and this is just one of the crazy ideas we are tossing around. In business plan competitions, you usually get a brief on what the parameters of the competition are and how you'll be judged. Without it, you're unlikely to win. Without knowledge of a sponsor's objectives, past activity, current deals and a host of other factors, you're unlikely to make a satisfying appeal for sponsorship. In both cases, it's about supplying a little information so that you can get a more educated proposal. We ask you, would it make sense for sponsors to start supplying a little more information in advance, perhaps even by RFP'ing proposals? A recent study by sponsorium suggests that the average proposal meets just 44.8% of brands’ needs. Would RFP'ing sponsorship opps help us all allocate our time and efforts more efficiently or are properties on their own when it comes to research? Afterall, there is an "i" in sponsorship. Worst case scenario for properties, you get some valuable feedback on how better to pitch sponsors. Afterall, in business plan competitions it's often not the homerun companies that win in the long run, but it's rather those that learn the most from the process. What do you think?

Does the Winner's Curse Apply to Sponsorship?

It seems sometimes that properties that get sponsorships often get lazy, feel annointed and start becoming less likely to keep up the activities that got them to where they are (i.e. comprehensively researching companies and generating the creative ideas that got them sponsorship in the first place). Whereas, properties that continue to set-up pitch meetings, but don't necessarily get a deal often learn from this experience, refine their pitch, get referrals and build relationships. In this sense, is sponsorship really about the journey rather than the destination... or the deal?

Are you engaged in the process or the goal?

Of course, we all want a quick hit. But do we? Will one lucky hit really influence your career, your property's success? We routinely get and hear about letters asking about the "approximate wait time" for a sponsorship as if it's a foregone conclusion. I am fully aware of the urgency of the current times we live in, but this seems akin to discussing marriage on a first date. If you spend 50 hours a week in sponsorship sales, you should love engaging in the process. If you don't you'll likely be unhappy. As many of you know, it's not about writing a letter and getting a yes or no. Even if you get a yes, it's everything in between that initial outreach and the response that can be your hidden MVP. Want to generate new business and grow your professional success stop asking "when" and start asking "how." It might come in the form of a business referral, some constructive criticism on your pitch or simply grooming a new relationship that may take years to pay off. Sponsors, too, should learn to relish the process, even though it may be costly and time consuming. Some of the valuable feedback we've gotten from agencies here in the city is that although our site might not always deliver the perfect property for them, a "think tank" of properties could deliver the next big idea for their client. This poses an interesting question, should we happy to freely share those ideas or protective of them? We tend to agree with Burson-Marsteller Chair of Brand Marketing, Samantha Lucas, who told us in BrandCast that "no one has a monopoly on good ideas." We all want new deals, but it's always eye opening to see how few are actually willing to put in the PT to take that from simple luck to routine process.

What do you think? We'll happily offer you a penny for good thoughts!