Oct 30, 2009 at 07:29 PM
written by Michael Munson

Applying Lessons Learned

Some information just came across my laptop suggesting the average sponsorship proposal meets only 45% of brand needs. That’s a pretty unfortunate figure.

Imagine buying things and being more unhappy than happy with just about every purchase option? Not only frustrating that you can’t find much you like, but also painful, as with so few choices the price for what does meet your needs will invariably cost more and more.

Even with all this information technology and instant communication we have available to us today, most sponsorship proposals are DOA. It’s not really that surprising. But seeing some real numbers put to previously anecdotal evidence is sobering nonetheless.

Is this just how it is? Will more and more money be spent on fewer properties, and will these percentages continue to fall? Or is it possible to improve on them, expand and grow the number of sponsorships done? Are the tools in place to even allow more effective proposals to be created? Many brands (most?) accept sponsorship proposals online. Brands have had for a long time, the ability to indicate what they sponsor and what they seek in sponsorship opportunities. They have even had the freedom to round up properties and develop RFP and RFI tools to help them collect information to improve the quality of the proposals they get.

When we see how many proposals are not meeting needs, look at how difficult it is for properties looking to serve brands to find information about what brands want, and consider the degree to which brands say their needs aren’t being met by the proposals they are receiving, it seems something needs to change or is lacking, especially when factoring in how brands continue to lament how difficult it is to assess ROI.

Organizations often embrace how they can benefit from a new technology, but resist the unpleasant parts or inconvenient side effects (real or perceived) from it. Decisions always come with opportunity costs, however, and many times they go unconsidered. Embracing a new technology strictly vis-à-vis how it impacts your organization, and dismissing how you can make the technology work to help peers, constituents, and stakeholders be more valuable to your organization in the future, has to be the biggest opportunity cost of all.

Just look at Twitter as a currently unfolding case study nobody has answers for yet. Organizations of all kinds have embraced its ability to get their messages out and spread through WOM, on an unprecedented scale at never before seen speeds. However, while sports teams for example like the idea of getting information they want out to fans instantly, they don’t like the fact others can get out their own information about the team just as fast, so some have banned reporters from tweeting at team practice facilities. But what if the future customer uses Twitter to get his news? What if he doesn’t follow the team any other way, and he wants third party news, in addition to the team’s perspective? It isn’t acceptable to show tape-delayed games, so why should it be OK to limit when and how information can be disseminated? Besides, that same reporter can write in his blog or column later, anyway.

The modern consumer has a voracious appetite for instant information. We can argue the merits, but that’s just how it is. Moreover, there tends to be a direct relationship between how close/how much information we can get and the degree of our interest in a person, team, or brand. If passionate fans are what drives your business, it sure seems possible that cutting off any connections could end up hurting instead of helping as intended. Pulling the discussion back to sponsorship… It is understandable that companies don’t want information about what they do out in public. But the reality is every brand spends resources doing competitive analysis and finding out anyway. The only organizations not getting the information are sponsorship properties that need it to improve on the quality of their proposals. We now have data that proves it.

Given the fact more and more scrutiny is being put to how money is being earmarked to sponsorship, and given how much the demand for demonstrable results is growing, it does not seem the tried and true methods of networking to get a door open to someone you know, to get a proposal accepted by a brand, are going to work in the long run.

If brands want more choices and better results they have to find ways to get better matches with properties. Properties have to have more data to offer more value to brands if sponsorship is to grow. If this doesn’t happen, fewer and fewer properties will be able to sustain themselves and we’ll continue seeing the “doesn’t meet needs” numbers grow. That isn’t going to make the world a better place for anybody, is it?

It’s time to adopt the social media ethos to sponsorship marketing: Giving is the new taking.

The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, SponsorPitch, LLC. Mike Munson founded the web's first proposal submission software, Sponsorwise, and currently serves as founder of Fantell and V.P. of Content & Strategy at SponsorPitch. Mike can be reached by email at mike@sponsorpitch.com and on Twitter at @mjmunson. Also, don't forget to view all of Mike's previous posts.