If you’re like most entrepreneurs, independence is both your greatest strength and greatest weakness. Asking for help can seem unwise when the stakes are high. And things only get more complicated if you’re asking for financial help, right?
Of the fatal mistakes businesses often make, refusing to build a network of support is high on the list. The fact is, 29 percent of failed businesses attributed their failure to insufficient funds. You can avoid joining their ranks if you’re willing to seek support—and not just from generous relatives or the nearest loan shark.
Believe it or not, a corporate sponsorship is a great solution for businesses of any size, and the tips below can help you secure your own.
- Do your research
Any financially solvent company could be a potential sponsor. Approach the ones that can benefit most from what you have to offer. Aside from your direct competitors, which brands are trying to capture a similar customer base?
One of the biggest incentives you can offer a sponsor is quality access to their most coveted consumers. Picture the partnership between Jordan Brand and Gatorade—different products, similar customers. That is the shared space where sponsorships are most likely to succeed.
If you’re not sure how to determine a sponsor’s target demographic, try requesting a company media kit, investigating previous sponsorships, and analyzing their media campaigns. You’ll also want to read any recent press releases or quarterly reports, since these can give you an idea about the company’s current goals and strategies.
- Create a persuasive proposal
Now that you know more about the company you’re about to approach, create a sponsorship proposal tailored to its needs. According to corporate sponsorship expert, Linda Hollander, sponsorships bring a better ROI than traditional advertising, but most business leaders will still need to be convinced. The purpose of your proposal is to describe, in detail, the tangible value you’ll bring to the sponsorship and how you plan to do it.
Determine what specific opportunities you can offer to your sponsor, such as logo exposure, naming rights or product endorsement. Connect this with their target demographic and show what quantitative impact it can have on their business goals. Set measurable benchmarks for the sponsorship; for example, how many new followers you can add to their social media accounts or how many people you can expose to their products.
If you have a proven track record of bringing in a certain amount of money and can give a sponsor access to an audience primed for their product, show that. It worked for Coachella and AmEx.
Keep in mind that pitching a deal that coincides with your sponsor’s goals and strategies will help you avoid the trash bin: This marketing director reads between 15 and 20 sponsorship proposals daily, and warns that he discards about 90 percent of them because they fail to appeal specifically to his brand.
- Communicate with the correct department
After crafting your proposal, put it in the hands of someone with the power to approve it. This might be the head of marketing, public relations, advertising, community outreach, or another similar department.
Start building a relationship with that contact person. They’ll be more likely to sponsor you if they know your unique business story and how it aligns with their company’s goals.
Whenever you can, get a phone number and call your contact after sending your proposal off via email. If you’re persistent and lucky, you may be able to arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss your sponsorship deal.
- Capitalize on your community
National brands can win customer loyalty by sponsoring local entrepreneurs and their events, so broadcast your local appeal. Show your potential sponsors that you can connect them with not only a prime target demographic, but also a local community that they may otherwise have a hard time accessing.
In Salt Lake City, Vivint Smart Home’s sponsorship of a local arena helped “elevate the prominence of Utah,” but it also increased Vivint’s brand awareness in its home state. Aligning Vivint’s brand with a community landmark bolstered positive customer perception, and any corporate sponsor can see similar benefits when they find a footing in a small, engaged community.
Landing a corporate sponsorship is no easy task, but the effort will bring great returns if you’re wise about your approach. Carefully select companies that pursue a similar market and familiarize yourself with their business goals. Write a proposal with plenty of specific options and benchmarks and address it to the appropriate decision-maker. Describe how sponsoring your company will benefit the community and bring significant value to your sponsor.
And the most important tip? Don’t give up after several failed attempts. Any startup can land a great sponsor with enough persistence and a bit of luck.