Stop Selling Sponsorship!

Discussion started by Sophie Morris , on Thursday, 07 July 2016 09:23

We’re asking you to stop selling sponsorship. That’s right. Stop selling sponsorship. Today. Right now.

Why? Well because we want you to think about building partnerships instead.

Watch the video or read the blog below.

Stop Selling Sponsorship!



This isn’t a new idea in sponsorship, people have been talking about using the word ‘partnership’ instead for a long time, but we don’t really mind which word you use, it’s the mindset you have that is important.


Selling sponsorship used to mean getting the biggest fee for the fewest assets. You and the sponsor are pitched against each other, both trying to get a better deal than the other. Once you have an agreement, you give your sponsor their rights, hand over to someone more junior to handle the account and you move on to finding the next sponsor.


Instead, a partnership looks at how you can work together, both bringing value to the table and therefore both taking away more from it, as you build added value together. You have a shared responsibility for success. You therefore put more effort in, which results in added value to your fans as well as each other.


Partnerships can involve most departments in your sponsor’s business, whereas sponsorship is typically handled only by the sponsorship team, which can be just one person in smaller companies, or the marketing team. It can therefore be more susceptible to budget cuts as it is seen as an expense and only one department is fighting to keep it.


A partnership that adds value to every aspect of a business is far more likely to survive difficult economic times and the whims of annual marketing planning.


Being a partnership, it also has a longer term focus, whilst sponsorship can be seen as more of a transaction, you’re doing a deal for one season perhaps and when that season is over, the sponsor may or may not decide to buy that sponsorship again. You’ll still put a time frame on a ‘partnership’ approach, but it’s likely to be longer and keep renewing, if it’s delivering.


The long-term partnership approach places a greater importance on brand values. You wouldn’t form a business partnership with another firm that didn’t have the same values and culture style as yours. So you equally wouldn’t want sponsors, who are going to be targeting your audience to have values you didn’t agree with either. In the UK we have seen football clubs cancel sponsorships with certain categories of loan companies who were thought to be treating their customers unfairly.


You need to protect your fans and so have a responsibility to ensure that the sponsors you engage with on their behalf are stable and will add value to the club and the fans experience. Equally your sponsors will want to understand the values of your club, it’s management and ownership.


This trust and transparency is critical to a good relationship. We have seen a lot of stories where individual athletes and governing bodies behave in ways that are not acceptable to their sponsors. Feeling more empowered than ever before sponsors are walking away from such arrangements.


A partnership approach can add even more value to fans and if they can see that you are a genuine partnership, they can easily understand why you are working together and when people understand something easily, they are more likely to accept it and engage with it.


So how do you know who is best to partner with? Well, it comes down to what you, as a business, want to achieve, beyond your sponsorship target.

Is it improved fan experience?
Is it improved team performance?
Is it a more ecological stadium?
Is it increased participation in your sport?
Is it increased revenue from all available streams?


Who could you partner with in order to best achieve that and what could you offer them in return that would help them to achieve their objectives? And then which firms have the same values that you do?


The sponsorship team needs to be fully aware of the clubs overall goals, so that they can create sponsorship objectives to help achieve them and not just take the first company who agrees the fee.


Then, finally, remember that if they are a ‘partner’ they are part of your club and should be included in relevant conversations and events.


Make them part of the decision making process for the club. And bring your sponsors together. Any partner will benefit from meeting others given the connection, and creating a ‘business club’ for partners will add extra value to them, as well as making it easier for you to manage different sponsors at events. Creating this family style environment, can only help the club as you have a variety of businesses now invested in the success of the club, as it adds value to them.


The partners all benefit from that shared expertise and of course it presents business opportunities for them too.
In fact, you should find yourself feeling as if you half work for your club and half for the sponsors.

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Latest Discussion
Sophie Morris
Hi Mark,

That's great to hear and thank you for sharing that. From the 'partnership' point of view, it would be great to understand what GOLDOC is doing to support its partners' businesses, perhaps creating something new with them that naturally establishes a long-term relationship, rather than a focus around one event.

Assistance in activation planning is an essential part of what a rights holder can offer to sponsors, but we advise going further to really understand their business needs and helping them to deliver on those objectives, not just the sponsorship objectives.
310 days ago
Mark Peters
The principles of partnership and mutual benefit are cornerstones of the GC2018 sponsorship program and a key driver in securing sponsors to support the staging of the games.

Partnership with GC2018 is firstly achieved through the supply of products and services by sponsors to meet the operational requirements of GOLDOC.

All of the current 11 sponsors are providing specific operational support to GOLDOC currently or will play a key role in the lead-up to and during the Games. Key services provided by current GOLDOC sponsors include professional advisory services, legal services, accommodation software, games management systems, training services and consulting.

A number of other sponsorships are in the pipeline and all include a significant commitment to partnership with GOLDOC through the provision of products and services needed by GOLDOC.

Another key aspect of the partnership relationship with sponsors is the key role sponsors will play in marketing and promoting GC2018 to the Australian and international market. The marketing commitment of our sponsors will be significantly greater than GOLDOC’s marketing budget and will help to build awareness and interest in GC2018 to support the sale of tickets and other GOLDOC objectives.

As part of the partnership approach the GOLDOC sponsorship team works with the sponsors to support their development of activation plans, drawing on the sponsorship teams experience with Commonwealth Games over many years.

GOLDOC’s emphasis on partnership in the sponsorship sales process has been well received and has resulted in very positive interest across a number of product categories.
312 days ago filesmonster