Recently I was working with a client – who puts on a great event – that was grappling with hitting on the right formula to get their foot in the door and compel prospective sponsors to take an initial meeting with them. I started going down the path of providing methodological advice when it dawned on me what we’re really talking about here is securing the first date – and with as many years in the field and gal pals as I have, this is something I can definitely counsel on.
Let’s throw the propriety and steps out the window: a great first date is one where you talk all the time the other person seems fabulously attracted, attentive and interested in you and, if they know a little bit about what you’re into that sure is icing on the cake (hello any gentleman who can talk Buckeye sports and indie rock). It’s no different with the property – prospect relationship. As the suitor, the property has an obligation to make the prospect feel like the only one in the room (no tipping them off that you’re courting their arch nemesis at the same time).
Creating this mood requires two key things (and no I’m not talking about flowers and a bottle of Dom): more
The economy. You have a built-in explanation for any drop in performance. So put that net of excuses to good use—go deliver a death-defying high-wire act. You won't die, and you just might be the star.
Self-orientation. I'm an only child. And I married an only child. I know all about self-orientation. (See? I’ve used “I” way too many times in this paragraph already.) The good news is that being self-oriented is not the same thing as being self-absorbed or self-centered. The bad news is it's a distinction without a difference in sales. Whether it's trying to sell a program just because you need to fund it, or telling prospects information about your property that they don't need to know to buy the deal, it's not doing you any favors. Don't be an only child at the sales table; be a Gosselin or a Duggar. Those kids know it's not about one of them, the payout is in the assemblage.
OK, I admit it. This is more of a rant than anything substantial, but here’s something that really grates me: people that don’t return phone calls.
I mean, come on. Let me know you don’t want to talk about a story I’m working. That’s fine, but do me the courtesy of letting me know. Pick up the phone and tell me. Don’t keep me waiting and waiting for your call—I’m going to waste your time and mine by making follow-up calls and emails.
Some PR people are the worst. It’s their job to return calls! That’s public relations 101. Again, do me the courtesy of letting me know you don’t want to talk, or, worse yet, “participate in the story.” Don’t waste my time, and I won’t waste yours.
Although IEG’s responsibility to identify categories primed to increase sponsorship budgets has been a challenging one this past year, we have scoped out new activity and are heartened by reports of new deals that support our conclusions.
For example, we reported in the spring that prepaid wireless services were good candidates for a wider variety of properties than they previously had been involved with. Now we hear from Peter Hansen of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center that he has concluded a deal for Boost Mobile to sponsor the Newark venue’s Sounds of the City summer series of free Thursday evening outdoor performances. Boost Mobile was attracted to the series’ demographics—core age group of 25-to-32-year-olds, 75 percent African-American, 15 percent Latino—and the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with nearly 3,000 attendees at each performance. The provider plans to activate through geo-texting and social media applications; NJPAC also could provide artist content for Boost Mobile to offer through its phones and Web site.
I was in my early 20s when I first sat in on a financial seminar given by a company’s 401k provider. I remember being very relieved that I had 40+ years to work to build up the amazing retirement I was sure to have–I have to admit I was almost gloating as I looked around the room at some of the folks who were my parents’ age. I wondered if they had been as smart as I was going to be.
But then as I started to really look at the different investment strategies they spoke of (conservative, moderate, aggressive), I realized what made sense to me intellectually (be aggressive, be-e aggressive!) was in direct conflict with what I felt like on an emotional level (savings bonds? hide it in the mattress?!). Thankfully after talking to my parents—trust me, I wasn’t gloating anymore—I found the right balance for me. more
An unintentional underlying subject matter in some of my recent blog posts has been brands (sponsors) that have created their own interactive consumer programs/properties (sponsorship opportunities). These companies, instead of partnering with an existing organization, choose to forge their own way.
There is a long list of companies that have created their own experiential consumer programs. Red Bull is always a shining example when it comes to sponsor owned or created properties including Red Bull Racing, New York Red Bulls, Team Red Bull and Red Bull Flutag. Other companies that come to mind are Burton (Burton U.S. Open, Burton European Open), New Belgium Brewery (Tour de Fat), Nike (Nike + Human Race) and Virgin Mobile (Virgin Festival).
In my last post, I shared my observations on how culture impacts—and should impact—the way sponsorship sellers create their strategies. In this post, I’m taking a look at the buyers, for whom culture is a much different thing.
To once again oversimplify, a company’s sponsorship selection (to buy or not to buy) and sponsorship evaluation (to renew or not to renew) strategy is a process that screens each opportunity against a set of criteria. Those criteria are built to measure a given opportunity’s likelihood to help the company meet its objectives. This includes opportunities where the company instigates the conversation and/or the property cold calls. more
While sponsorship deal-making usually grinds to a halt during the dog days of summer—a situation that’s been exacerbated this year as a result of the economy—some veteran sellers are starting to see signs of looser budgets and more deals in 4Q ’09 and beyond.
While that’s good news for the sponsorship industry, properties need to be more strategic than ever to capture those dollars.
I recently spoke with Cary Chevat, president of sponsorship sales agency Sponsorship Resources, who shared some tips for securing deals during the 4Q decision-making time period.
Each year there are a handful of guest speakers at the IEG Conference that really make an impression on me for a variety of reasons. One of the presentations that stood out to me from the 2009 IEG Conference was a presentation by Liz Cahill, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Lee Jeans, who spoke about Lee National Denim Day.
What really impressed me was how the program has evolved since 1996. For a program that is fairly extensive, Lee National Denim Day is supported by a pretty lean staff and budget. Basically, the Lee team internally created and grew the program with a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck and some trial and error.
To me, Lee National Denim Day feels authentic, is a great fit with the brand and is a simple concept: wear jeans on a particular day and donate $5. The campaign materials never specify to wear Lee Jeans and the program is more about raising funds to fight breast cancer and less about selling a pair of jeans. With the recent criticism of cause marketing being called “consumption philanthropy”, I would think that the critics would have a harder time finding fault with this program compared to some of the other donation-with-purchase structured programs. more
This week it seems survey findings abound. From info about the most engaged brands in the social media space (Starbucks took tops) to what customers want from customer service (it’s to be made to feel special) there sure is a lot for us sponsorship pros to take in and chew on.
In particular the customer service findings – while damn near as straight forward and common sense as it comes – were a great reminder that what we expect as paying customers (research says it’s to wait no longer than 90 seconds or else we deem the service a total breakdown and failure) is really no different from how a paying sponsor feels with the properties they are backing. So, I think a quick sponsorship-focused translation of the top four things customers are looking for is in order: