Aug 17, 2009 at 07:07 PM
written by Gail Bower

Look More Closely: What Opportunities Do You See?

Bring a discerning eye, along with a healthy dose of creativity, to your exploration for new sponsor possibilities. As you monitor the media, interact with the business world, and go about your daily life, look for signs of new life and evidence that maybe there’s another way of looking at things.

Not every industry sector, nor every business in troubled sectors, has collapsed. Some are doing quite well. However, with the constant onslaught of negative news, it’s easy to assume otherwise. Your job is to look for the opportunities, the signs of new life emerging from the rubble. By flipping a situation around, you may begin to see opportunities where others don’t.

For example, a company that has image issues, or is intent on building its customer base, though left for dead by the media, may very well make a good sponsor for you. Can you assist the business with these image issues? Are your customers potentially their customers? Can you motivate your customers to visit their stores and web site?

You probably don’t want to approach a company that is clearly having serious problems, like AIG or General Motors, for example. But what other insurance companies or automobile manufacturers have potential? And within those industries what do you see?

Take the automotive sector, for example. Gasoline prices and concern about the impact of our use of fossil fuels on the environment are changing America’s car buying and usage patterns. The New York Times reported that new car sales are expected to decline; however, participation in urban car sharing programs is on the rise.

Is car sharing a new category that urban nonprofit organizations and festivals might approach? What about manufacturers or distributors of scooters or public transit authorities? If people are keeping cars longer, does that mean that auto parts, or major maintenance and repair businesses, are a category worth exploring?

Take a probing look at what you’re seeing. Then research your hunch. Do a web search on the industry to see if trade publications have anything to say about new trends. Conduct searches on sponsorship web sites and blogs, like and IEG’s web site,, to see what they’ve uncovered. If your hunch is corroborated, make inquiries in these sub-sectors, building your business case around your sponsorship opportunity. You may need to spend extra time educating business people in sub-sectors that have not previously been active in the sponsorship arena. It’s in your interest to talk with them about the value of sponsorship, compared to other marketing methods, and to be particularly realistic about their expectations for returns. The extra effort may be worth the rewards of cultivating new partners.

This article is an excerpt from Gail Bower’s new guidebook, entitled How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times. To order the book, visit

Gail Bower is President of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC, a firm that assists nonprofit organizations and event/festival producers with dramatically raising their visibility, revenue, and impact. She’s a professional consultant, writer, and speaker, with nearly 25 years of experience managing some of the country’s most important events, festivals, and sponsorships and implementing marketing programs for clients. Her blog is and you can see all of her past posts here.

photo credit via flickr:deegeeguy