Feb 20, 2009 at 03:51 PM
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Perfect Pitch Fridays V: When Not to Pitch at All

Virtually every conference you attend, blog or book you read about sponsorships will tell you that you have to research, research, research in advance to learn about a sponsor's business so that you can know what makes them tick and tailor your pitch accordingly.

Unfortunately, we're seeing a lot of real-time case studies of why it's more important than ever to do due diligence on a potential sponsor and it's not so you can tailor your pitch.

Stanford Alleged Fraud Threatens $100 Million of Sports Backing

Citi, AIG Won't Drop Big Sports Sponsorships

Fans tune in to Bailout Bowls

Sometimes due diligence shouldn't just be about deciding "how to pitch a sponsor," but rather "if to pitch a sponsor." Of course you can only do so much as a sponsorship sales pro to discern a partner's broader business viability and well thought out contracts and payment schedules can definitely help to mitigate some of the financial risk. That still doesn't mean you're not accepting reputational and financial risk by partnering with vulnerable companies or sectors, as many individual investors now know all too well. Sometimes, the answer may be simply to stay away from a particular company or category altogether as many properties did with dot coms in 2001/02 when tech was imploding.

As former Anheuser-Busch sports marketing chief Tony Ponturo recently told SBJ “there were very few presentations ever where people came in and said ‘we did our homework and here’s an idea to match your latest strategy.”

If you're not doing the due diligence to uncover a sponsor's needs, you're probably not doing enough to ensure that your adequately managing the risk involved in a potential partnership.