Although the recessionary clouds appear to be lifting and marketing budgets coming back to life, it still remains a challenging sponsorship sales environment. Below, what three veteran non-sports sellers are doing to identify likely prospects and get corporate partner revenue in the door.

Target former sponsors. Just two weeks since joining event producer Gen Art as vice president of business development, Rose Adkins has approached several sponsors who have cut ties with the property, a strategy she employed successfully during previous gigs at Sundance Institute and Universal Studios.

While many sellers don’t view past sponsors as primary targets, Adkins believes such companies represent good prospects given they already have demonstrated an interest in the property.

“It’s always easier to get repeat business than go after new business,” she asserted. “Whether they had a good or bad experience, it’s easier to bring them back in.”

Adkins believes if she can find out why the partnership did not work previously and can address those concerns, she has a chance at signing new deals.

Adkins believes the strategy will pay off, as she is discussing potential partnerships with several former sponsors of Gen Art, which is dedicated to showcasing emerging fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians and visual artists. The organization merged with event production company Rock Media and Entertainment last August after experiencing significant financial woes.

Leverage media company relationships to secure new sponsors. The City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office of Special Events—producer of the Chicago Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago and other happenings—has focused more over the last several years on leveraging radio stations and other media outlets to gain new sponsors.

One recent twist to the strategy: working with media outlets that are not official sponsors.

“We have always worked with media partners that back-sell advertisers into the event, but we’ve expanded our efforts to also work with other media companies,” said Dan Hines, director of sponsorship. “We have opened up our inventory to them and their advertisers and it has been working out well.”

The strategy takes advantage of the fact that media outlets, particularly radio stations, often are in a position of assisting advertisers with other marketing and media plans as a way to hold on to their business regardless of whether the station is directly involved with the third party.

MOSE’s approach does not target specific advertisers, but rather presents available benefits and inventory to the media companies. “We tell them, ‘Here is a list of our events. If you have any advertisers that may be interested, let’s discuss,’” Hines said.

Communication is of critical importance between MOSE and the media companies to ensure the two organizations aren’t calling on the same companies, Hines said, adding he has used the strategy to secure several new partners over the past two years.

(For more information on the radio category, see “Radio Stations Step Back From Proprietary Events, Making Room For Sponsorships”)

Have the property independently valued. A number of sellers contacted by IEG SR reported positive results from having their sponsorship packages assigned a fair market value by a third party.

Case in point: Jon Holman, president of sponsorship sales agency IMG Artists/The Holman Group, credits a valuation as playing a key role in a soon-to-be-announced deal between a luxury auto company and the Hollywood Bowl. The valuation allowed Holman—who reps the bowl—to maintain the asking price during negotiations.

“Even during these recessionary times, we didn’t lower the fee because it was valued by an outside agency. They tried to negotiate down, but we said no,” Holman said.

(Full disclosure: IEG SR publisher IEG, LLC conducts valuations through IEG Valuation Services.)