May 21, 2012 at 04:46 PM
written by

Anatomy of a Sponsorship Proposal - What Worked and What Didn't

Back in 2011 I decided to investigate sponsorship opportunities for my drag racing team. I looked around the internet for resources, found some information and put together my first sponsorship proposal.

Long story short, it failed to get a response. Not because I didn’t put in the effort. But because I was selective in my approach and didn’t follow through on some of the fundamental aspects of what goes into a successful sponsorship proposal. Since then I’ve put together Practical Sponsorship Ideas to help me (and you) learn about how to get sponsored.

Part of that journey is to look back at what worked and what didn’t with my first sponsorship proposal. I blazed away assuming what a sponsor would want without ever asking, building rapport (to get to know, like and trust you) and doing the detailed research. I hope you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself some time and effort when creating your sponsorship proposals.

As detailed in 10 essential steps to create a winning sponsorship proposal I sent this sponsorship proposal without ever:

• Establishing the sponsor's marketing objectives

• Agreeing on how we will measure sponsorship success

• Ascertaining the value to the sponsor

My initial sponsorship effort was akin to a “direct marketing campaign to a single recipient.” The response rate for a typical direct marketing campaign is about 1% to 2%. I didn't give myself much of a chance.

Obviously my first sponsorship proposal failed completely. But it’s not all bad. I learnt a great deal from this first try even though I didn’t get the result I wanted.

The only things I’ve removed are the company logos (I don’t want to get into any strife if I haven’t used them correctly) and the price. Frankly, I’m embarrassed about my initial asking price. It was way too high considering I hadn’t established any rapport with the sponsor or demonstrated the value of a marketing relationship.

Click on the cover art below to open the sponsorship proposal.

Let’s look at the sponsorship proposal in more detail; what worked, what didn’t and what I’ve learnt to improve my chances of getting sponsored.

1.1 What worked (in my opinion)

• For a novice sponsorship seeker the proposal looks professional enough

• There was no lack of effort when it came to creating the sponsorship proposal. The effort was just misguided and a little naive

• I really like the idea of creating personas to represent your target audience. They compliment the demographics and statistics to create a compelling picture of who the target audience is

• Using mockups of what the drag car and trailer will look like in the sponsor’s livery creates impact and visual appeal

• Actually producing and delivering a sponsorship proposal is a plus. Every failure is one step closer to success

1.2 What didn’t work

• I didn’t build rapport with the sponsor before sending them the proposal

• The proposal doesn’t address their marketing objectives, measures of success and ultimately the value to the sponsor. I wasn’t able to articulate my unique selling proposition clearly

• I didn’t do enough research. If I had then I would have quickly realised that the national office was not interested in regional activities

• It’s too much about me and not enough about the sponsor. You’ve got to answer the question – What’s in it for them?

• The proposal is way too long and text heavy. Less is more

• I tried to include too many options which just confuses the message

• The sections aren’t in the right order. They need to be focused on the value to the sponsor

1.3 What I’ve learnt

Since creating my first sponsorship proposal I’ve learnt a lot and improving how I go about getting sponsored.

Research, research, research

• Contact the sponsor and build rapport before sending a proposal. Here’s my cold calling technique

• It’s a numbers game. Just like the classic sales funnel, you need potential sponsors at various stages in your sponsorship funnel. Don’t bet the house on 1 or 2 opportunities

Focus on the sponsor’s objectives, measures of success and value

At the moment I have a few proposals with potential sponsors and they’re much better than my first attempt. I’m still learning all of the time… a tip here, a tweak there. Each step takes me closer to getting sponsored.

Got some ideas or feedback? Please leave a comment below. Your input will be gratefully appreciated.

Oh, and your more than welcome to use parts of the sponsorship proposal if it will help you. Happy sponsorship seeking… cheers, Kym.

Kym Oberauer is the author and head sponsorship seeker at Practical Sponsorship Ideas; dedicated to sharing experiences, tools and resources to help you find, attract and keep your sponsors happy. This is the seventh installment of a weekly Monday series called Confessions (and Learnings) of a First Time Sponsorship Seeker. We'd also suggest having a look at some of his other articles in the series: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI.


photo credit