publication date: May 24, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Discovery: a word full of possibilities - new knowledge, new
insights, even new horizons. They're all possible in the series of
conversations known as a "discovery session." That's when a charity (or
"property" in sponsorship parlance) meets with a prospective partner to - yes -
discover where their mutual interests lie.
Assumptions are your enemy here. The less you assume you
know, the more questions you'll ask, and the more you'll uncover. Here are some
of the areas you might want to ask about, and some of the wide-ranging answers
shared during a panel discussion at the 2010
Western Sponsorship Congress
. Panellists included Ron Podbielski
, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs, SaskEnergy
; John Windwick
, VP, Community and Government Relations, ATB
; and Kristi Gartner
Marketing and Communications Lead, geoLOGIC
Why do you sponsor?
What other forms of
marketing do you undertake and how do you (or not) integrate sponsorship into
those tactics as well?
Business development - including sales leads
Access to core audience in a way that
traditional advertising doesn't deliver
Winning the talent war for younger employees who
place a high value on community involvement
Building corporate image in a cost-effective,
relatively easy way
How do you know if a
sponsorship investment is successful?
We tie our advertising at events we sponsor to our
print and online advertising and to our trade show exhibits.
We build in additional experiences. For example,
we support a charity by sponsoring a calendar featuring the city's professional
football team, which the charity sells to multiply the value of our
We promote an internal network, "Generation E,"
for our employees under 30. Knowing how highly they value community
involvement, we spread the message of our sponsorships through that network. It
strengthens the commitment of that demographic and even attracts new employees.
- We talk about our sponsorships in our hiring
discussions so good candidates know we're supporting the communities that give
How do you feel about
the traditional gold/silver/bronze packages presented by sponsorship
We measure attendance, monitor signage, read
media clippings, and evaluate what worked. To gauge customer impact, we test
awareness of our sponsorships with consumer surveys.
We're interested in sales that result from
sponsorships, so we focus on tracking contacts made at events. We also examine
whether they're contacts we wouldn't have been able to make otherwise.
We measure different things, depending on our
objectives for each sponsorship. We might track our customer attendance at the
event, or have our internal research team track brand awareness and consumer
memory of our involvement.
If you could tell
sponsorship properties to make one change in how they "pitch you" what would
If they're obviously cookie-cutter proposals,
you reveal that you haven't done your homework on my company. They do give us
an idea of what's available, but they also make it very easy to say no.
They make me feel like an automated bank machine!
Discovery sessions are absolutely necessary.
I understand that they do it because they're
short of time and staff. But the most I'll give in response to such a proposal
is $500. I drive awareness for my company by doing something different from
other companies, so there's much more value for my company in a custom
What makes you decide
to meet with a property?
Show that you're interested in the long term. To
use a courtship metaphor, the first date is just for you to find out about my
interests. The second date is where we explore common interests. On the third
date, we can start talking about getting together. I want you to make me feel
special, to understand who my company is.
Don't pitch me, period. Show you understand my
business objectives and be open to my suggestions. Be prepared to go through
several discovery sessions.
I can't say this enough - show that you
understand my business needs. Research my company on the Internet. Use your
network to meet staff in my company. Show up at events where my company's key
people are speaking.
What do you look for
in a sponsorship proposal?
I see something unique in your offering that
will help build my brand.
I see something beneficial to my company.
I want to hear that you have something different
from what we've done before.
I want to hear, "I know you're involved with ABC.
Do you think you'd be interested in DEF? I'd like to work with you to shape
Would you meet by phone
or face to face with a sponsorship property if its representative called to set
up a discovery and agreed not to pitch you at that meeting?
We have a matrix by which we evaluate proposals.
It includes things like the depth of a project's community penetration, the
number of people it affects, whether it builds our brand, creativity,
I ask myself whether people will miss us if we
aren't there. I look for ways to engage with an audience that's relevant to my
With smaller sponsorships, I look at attendance,
signage, media coverage, volunteer opportunities for our staff and whether our
partners are there. Larger sponsorships must fit those criteria but also offer
a unique way to shape perception among our customers.
This article is taken from Winning Together, a free 52-page sponsorship handbook from Hilborn, publishers of Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy.
Download your copy from the panel on the left, as our gift to you.
Yes. You can ask as many tough questions as you
want. It's our job to answer them. Good companies will either meet with you or
turn you down right away.
Yes. I want you to ask questions, throw ideas
out and show that you're open to my shaping them.
Yes! We have big hearts. We want you to succeed.
I have to balance that against my company's business interests. If I sense that
there's something there, I'll definitely take a meeting.