Are you looking for sponsors for your new business or live event? Are you looking to raise money?
It’s not luck. It’s not charity. Raising capital through sponsorship is a business discipline. Here are seven secrets to help you attract sponsors to your cause.
[Quick note from Martin: This is a guest post from Rob Campbell. He actually landed me a sponsorship for a mouth guard through a local wrestling company that I work with. This article is an example of worlds colliding. You can read up on my pro wrestling adventure.]
Your Project: Let’s assume you’re doing something amazing, and your project is very tangible despite being underfunded. In this scenario, it may be possible to attract business sponsors to help reach your goals, but you must go about it the right way.
Speaking from experience, as I’ve raised money and bequeathed funds to good causes, I know the fundamentals. But for the purposes of this article I’d like to relate observations I made watching a fledgling wrestling league in Toronto struggle to find sponsors throughout the summer of 2016. In September the owners hired a business development agency and suddenly there was a name change, and the new Hogtown Wrestling website appeared, and now the league is roaring back to life in a definite upswing.
Why? The perspective changed – suddenly sponsors came rushing forth and the seven reasons why are listed below.
Here are the seven secrets for finding sponsors for your business or brand…
Secret #1: Your business goals should NOT depend on a “gatekeeper”, and especially a funding agent’s approval.
Always try to put yourself in the position whereby additional capital is required to finish a dream, not to get it started. This means that you shouldn’t solely rely on funding from sponsors to get your project off the ground in general. The money from sponsors should be there to help you grow the project to the next level.
Secret #2: Create a sponsor proposal with a story.
What’s your story? What makes your brand unique? Create a story and package it into a nice proposal so that potential sponsors know exactly what they’re getting into.
The key components are some of the points on this list. The document needs to have a Table of Contents with sections addressed to who, what, where and how and especially “Why.”
The secret is to make the business sponsor the potential “hero of the story.”
The problem that needs to be solved is something linked to a critical lack of funds; make it tangible and something that a hero could rescue from jeopardy. In other words, don’t just beg for money. Give them something to believe in.
Secret #3: Research possible patrons before you pitch – do your homework.
One of the biggest problems is going after sponsors that have no interest in your type of niche (pro wrestling in this case). Some folks have wasted a lot of time and energy trying to attract breweries and an apple cider vendor who are naturally shy of supporting physical activities that could be perceived as violent (know your audience).
When the new business development person came on board he focused instead on attracting symbiotic local businesses. He found a hungry local restaurant guide willing to purchase a new ring apron, and an office phone company, Standard Telecom and A2ZPC laptop repair shop paid for the last show. Additionally, a Toronto dentist issued a custom sports-guard that is coloured pink with Martin’s wrestling name on the front, and Toronto physiotherapist Damian Wyard of Pilates4Physio was motivated to volunteer backstage helping some athletes work out joint pains.
Secret #4: Have finite needs.
Many hopeful entrepreneurs blow it when venture capitalists ask what specifically they plan to do with their funding.
Once again the secret is to create a story that sells the dream.
The wrestling league needed funds for everything; all their bills were mounting. They struggled just to keep the lights on, but when asked what sponsors could do, the new business development agent smartly replied that the money was required to import out-of-town wrestling talent that would bring more attention to the club. This was very smart because sponsors could then see themselves presenting these entities and indeed that is where much of their money was spent.
Hogtown Wrestling’s November show saw six wrestlers travel in from out-of-town, and their matches were among the many highlights of that event.
You need to know exactly what you plan on spending the money on.
Secret #5: Know your niche, and harness the passion of the subculture.
One secret to finding sponsors is to join and make personal profiles in niche communities that can be queried later when you’re looking for help of any kind. The wrestling league started a meetup group to showcase experts and scout new talent. By doing this they’re building a daylight community of fitness personal, nutritionists, costumers and collectors – they’re expanding the niche.
On that note, it’s equally important to be clear about your demographic and your platform to your supporters so that they’ll never be shocked or dismayed by your activities promoting their brands.
Secret #6: “Measure twice and cut once” is a time-honoured adage for carpenters, and now “Measure before you start” is a new mantra for digital marketers.
The best way to show progress with anything is to benchmark the client’s starting position. Strangely this activity is commonly ignored by most digital marketing agencies who report their work AFTER it’s all done without considering the impact on the client’s website at all.
Smart marketers, especially those seeking funding from business sponsors will show owners or marketing manager their current “score” based on whatever key performance indicators they can find BEFORE they start work. The metrics could include newsletter subscribers, organic vs paid traffic volumes, conversion rates and actual sales totals (if you can get that data), but at the very least include a friend count in social media channels.
Marketers can use SpyFu.com to glean information on monthly ad spend and organic, paid traffic totals. Authentic diagnostics will impress business owners and they are much more likely to come on-board if they believe they will see a rise in sales based on the indisputable truths presented in a comprehensive audit BEFORE they agree to fund your endeavour.
Secret #7: If you make promises, keep promises.
This is of course the most important piece of advice any mentor could give his protégé. It speaks to the heart of our free society and is the motif of success for all great business people. After promising sponsors a result, or a reward for their help you must deliver on that agreement in a big way. Make sure everyone knows you delivered and the more people who know the greater your chances of keeping the sponsors you have, and of finding more and better business relationships in the future.
These are my seven secrets to finding and winning sponsor dollars that I can see have helped turn the wrestling league around and set it on a road to profitability.
Hogtown Wrestling is now making a great video product for Rogers TV. Business patrons helped the organization set a strong foundation for growth, and in turn they are being helped to increase their market share due to greater online importance because of their roles as heroes in this local sports story.
“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” — James Cash Penney