Aug 25, 2009 at 05:55 PM
written by Ron Seaver

Sponsorship for Speakers

To this point I've been primarily speaking of sponsorship in "general terms" – talking about some of the major ways to prospect for sponsors … why sponsors would want to sponsor your event (or property) … and some inside tips on getting "in" with them.

And I'll certainly get back to sharing more of these tips; however, I wanted to devote the next few blogs to discussing sponsorship in specific "fields".

Most folks mistakenly feel that sponsorships are only for businesses that put on events, meetings or programs. But as we just talked about before, sponsorship is for any business that does a good job of cultivating and communicating with their own group of customers, clients, readers and/or prospects.

And this goes for people that are in the speaking business as well.

I had someone come up to me recently and say that "… this sponsorship business sounds all very well and good and all, but I don’t actually put on my own event – I’m in the speaking business and I speak at other people’s events. Sponsorship wouldn’t be apropos for me, would it?"

And the answer is: "ABSOLUTELY!"

Chances are – you're out there speaking to certain clearly-defined types of groups, right? For instance – you’re talking to high school students, or perhaps professional associations or financial planners. In each of these cases, you're perfectly situated to be talking to those types of businesses out there that want to reach the types of audience members that you're actively speaking to. Have these folks sponsor you – your speaking "tour" and your support materials.

Tell the meeting planner right up front that you're sponsored by "x-company", and that you'll need for them (the meeting promoter) to identify the fact that you’re "presented by x-company" in the program and their advance collateral. (And be sure to provide the promoter with a clean jpeg of the sponsor's logo.)

Believe me – if the promoter has a "serious problem" with you having a sponsor, they'll let you know. But honestly – your speaking tour being sponsored, in many cases, only adds to your cache and validity out in the market. (After all – there aren't many speakers out there with their own sponsors!) That makes you noteworthy, distinct and of added "perceived value".

(The one obvious exception to this is if the meeting promoter is sponsored by a competitor of your sponsor … then I'm sorry, but you're going to have to yield the floor on being recognized if you want that speaking gig…) But given that most meeting planners are only now just starting to recognize and cultivate sponsorships, chances of you bumping into a meeting with a competing sponsor are pretty slim!

Again, be prepared to interweave your sponsors into all facets of your speaking business. From your letterhead … to your hand-outs … to the clothes you wear, even down to your web site and business cards – you need to actively show your association and affiliation with your sponsor (… or sponsors).

Be sure to recognize and thank the folks at "XYZ Company" for their support, involvement and sponsorship of your speaking tour during each presentation. And then use that opportunity to launch into a "soft pitch" for why you're a supporter of this company and why you think they're a solid choice for your audience.

(Careful – no "infomercials" … audiences love to buy … but they hate "being sold"! Be sincere and be genuine. Why DO you like, use and recommend your sponsor's products or services? Speak with the "voice of experience" …but with that, also speak from the heart. Audiences have an uncanny ability to recognize sincerity … but they can also smell a "pitch" from a mile away!)

And don't pass up the opportunity to give away samples of your sponsor's products or services to the audience during or immediately following your presentation. And if your sponsor has a booth at this event – be sure to tell your audience that you'll be happy to meet them AT THE SPONSOR's BOOTH later that day! ("Stop by and see me at the "XYZ Booth" next door, Booth 27. I'll be there answering questions and signing copies of my new book from (time) tonight.")

And if you have handouts that you give to your audience during your presentation, be sure the sponsor's logo is on the front cover. (Put the sponsor's logo on the bottom right hand corner of the front cover with the words, "Proud sponsor and supporter of the (your name) 2009 Tour") If it’s appropriate in your materials to incorporate an ad from your sponsor in your handouts … do so. To this, if you can -- include a one-sheet from your sponsor on their products or services in with your handouts.

In short – remember your sponsors in every facet of your speaking business if possible. If you do an interview … taped or written, be sure to recognize them in there. They're your "silent partner" – take good care of them … and they'll take excellent care of you!

Ron Seaver, president of Seaver Marketing Group and The National Sports Forum, and author of "Brought to you By... - The Ultimate Sponsorship Sales System" has over twenty-five years of experience in the field of marketing and sponsorship. View all of Ron's posts here