Archive for September, 2016

Planning for Successful Sponsorship Selling

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

by Susan Novicki

Many of our clients have small and large events to sell and I hear the same thing over and over again: “We have great events and sell them out but our sponsorship sales are below expectations“. How often do you find that you are 2-3 weeks out from a major station event and are not pacing to hit the numbers to reach your budget goal? In working with many of our clients this seems to be a common issue. The revenue in ticket sales is great but what are you leaving on the table? What have you missed to fall short of your goals?

Events are important and created with two major goals. The first is an avenue to drive revenue and the second is to engage and connect with the community, creating both a branding of the property and a value and bonding with our audience. While most events do the second with ease, oftentimes the revenue generating is at a lackluster level. Most of the time it is because there hasn’t been enough sales planning and the sellers are not actually selling the event. Has the value of the event been clearly defined?

First, to be more successful in event sponsorship sales, we have to begin thinking like a “property” when it comes to an event. A property is the right to the possession or use of something; such as a group, institution or event that can be sponsored. The NFL, PGA, NASCAR, and the Olympics are all examples of “properties”. These organizations review their assets and develop packages to sell to sponsors, just like we do but often for much larger investments. They are most often better at explaining the overall value because their packages are not media centric. They can’t rely on media value alone like many media salespeople do when selling sponsorships.

However, as media salespeople we are in a unique and fortunate position because we have event assets, or the ability to sell event assets, in addition to “owning” the media that supports and promotes it; therefore showing event value and media value. We are often better positioned to create customized integrated programs through broadcast, digital, mobile, social and experiential to help our clients activate in a way that regular properties cannot. Each of the clients we work with is an expert at creating promotions to support a client initiative – focusing on the client and their goals. That is what we should do with the events that we have to sell too!

Instead of selling base packages, customize them with activation elements to ultimately increase their investment but more importantly provide them a higher return on investment.

The key to all of this starts with planning. Management needs to prioritize the key events, establish individual goals for each account executive and start the process early.

Did you know that 43% of companies determine their sponsorship budget during the 4th quarter, followed by 23% in 3rd quarter, 20% in 1st quarter and 14% in 2nd quarter?

Unfortunately, we often wait until 2-3 months out to focus sales efforts on key events, and many times I see it even later with some clients. We have to stop this trend. By doing so we can capture more revenue, have stronger and better events and stop the fire drills that occur as the events get closer.

Planning will also allow sponsors more time to activate to build additional components that will make the event sponsorship more valuable to them. Many times the most successful sponsorships have both “pre” and “post” activation elements.

As a seller, create a strategy based on your budget and develop a lead list. Be proactive in prospecting; think about prospects that want to reach the audience that may not be directly evident. This list of categories is endless. Start researching and understand what makes the companies on your list tick and determine if they are indeed a fit for your event. They may not be. It is your job to paint the picture of why a company would be a “natural” and to create some activation idea starters that would demonstrate your understanding of their goals.

Use the research and a hint at the idea starters as a hook to garner attention and initiate conversation, connect with them for a needs analysis and then be thoughtful with the customized programs that you present, using the packages as a base.

Optimize the event’s assets to meet the client’s needs, customize elements so that each client stands out and help them to visualize themselves in the picture.

And most importantly make sure that you are developing a package with a price that recognizes all of the assets that you are presenting – not just the media value. If you can bring some good activation ideas, plus the basic sponsorship elements you will be adding more value to the client, showing them why it makes sense for them to sponsor your event and ultimately capturing more revenue and making more money.