The main goal for many small sport organizations is to attract sponsors. The costs of the different annual events can then be covered, and the athletes are able to train, compete and have fun !
In a previous article I wrote already about the sales process of sponsorships, which I broke down in the following phases:
- INITIAL CONTACT
- SALES PRESENTATION
- HANDLING OBJECTIONS
- CLOSING THE SALE
- FOLLOW UP
So let’s say that you are looking for sponsors and you have already made a list of prospects. You can make this list in different ways, but I would suggest to do at least the following exercises:
I Analyze the people who currently are involved in your sports organization. They may be a parent, athlete, board member or official. Do you know where they work or what kind of job their spouse has? It is the easiest way to get an initial contact with a sponsor through a personal connection, so knowing your people is very valuable.
II The second exercise is to simply pickup the yellow pages and start writing at least 3 companies per category to target. That means you should write down the names of 3 banks, 3 insurance companies, 3 car rentals etcetera. Make sure that these all are local companies and start exploring their websites. Do they mention any social commitment or projects? If they already are a sponsor in sports, you could consider scratching them from the list. But don’t do this too quick. It is better to send too many sponsorship letters than not enough!
Be creative with prospecting! You already know that everybody is targeting the Banks, Airlines, the Telecommunication and Internet companies, the Oil and Insurance companies. So why not target a funeral agency with the slogan “Think outside the box”, a pension fund, a private hospital or a towing company. There are two advantages to this.
- These type of companies are not getting so many sponsorship letters as the other companies. Your initial contact will therefore stand out, and they will truly consider your approach
- They will probably not sponsor any other sports organization. So if you present your program professionally, you’ll have more chance to succeed.
Now the next advice is one that is really important. NEVER, NEVER, EVER let your sponsorship letter be the first thing that the prospect sees/notices of you. In other words; Prior to sending your letter, you need to approach the prospect first in other ways.
This is based on the old marketing principle: “The rule of seven”.
It says that a prospect needs to see or hear from you at least seven times before they take action and buy from you. That’s why you need to start by approaching your prospects from different angles, and in different ways, before you send your letter. You could try these seven ways.
- Make a friendly comment (no sales approach!) on the website or facebook page of the prospect.
- Drop your newsletter consistently in their mailbox (you do have a newsletter right?!!)
- Send an email inviting them to come and see a game/match
- Write a press release about your preparations towards getting sponsors
- Ask a radio program for an interview and mention the different categories you are going to approach (don’t mention the specific companynames!)
- Try to meet employees in an recreational event, like a reception, a trade show or perhaps a fair. Your goal should be to get some tips on how to approach the decision maker, and if he/she already has a personal interest in a specific sport (you already know who’s the boss, right ?!!)
- Send your letter
One of the cons of this rule of seven, is that it takes lots of time and coordination. On the other hand, ask yourself…how many other sport organizations are doing this? None of these 7 steps cost you any money, so I am sure that if you do this in a team you should be able to work this out.
Your letter needs to have some specific content, in a specific sequence. I will elaborate on that in another article.
Now tell me, did I miss something, or did I make it too complicated? Leave your experiences and ideas in the comment box.