Have you ever been in a meeting with someone who talks sponsorship, but isn’t really qualified to do so? I have run across people who position themselves as knowledge experts, but don’t know “jack!”
Perhaps they’ve done brand development and profess to be a sponsorship expert. (I have worked with some of those people and agencies.) Perhaps they are a successful major gifts officer who can successfully secure a $10 million donation, but then tell you how to run your gala sponsorships or commercial/corporate naming rights. I question myself—should I call them out? Typically, I let them bury themselves. I try not to embarrass them by shooting holes in their statements. I just let them go on and people figure it out!
For me, success in this industry means constantly learning. It is important to surround yourself with experts, and take away the pieces you like and believe. No one has the perfect solution or process that works 100% of the time. My success has come from listening to others and learning from them. I learn through online articles like this, reading magazines or a book. Sometimes I attend a showcase of industry leaders and speakers such as an SMCC event or a conference like the WSC – Alberta Forum that focuses on speakers, panels, and knowledge transfer from leaders and real industry people who know their stuff.
So, be careful out there. Make sure that those leading the conversation about sponsorship in your organization, network, or region have the relevant experience to back up their advice and opinions. There are a lot of people out there who position themselves as knowledge leaders, but truly aren’t. Every time I hear one of them speak, I think of this anecdote and it makes me laugh.
A guy was seated next to a 10-year-old girl on an airplane. Being bored, he turned to her and said, “Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”
The girl slowly closed her book and said, “What would you like to talk about?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, “how about nuclear power?” “OK,” she said. “That could be an interesting topic. But first, let me ask you a question. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff—grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”
The guy thought about it and said, “Hmmm, I have no idea,” to which the girl replied, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don’t know sh*t?”
Make sure the people giving you direction and advice know their sh*t!
Brent Barootes is President and CEO of the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists®, a national sponsorship marketing consulting firm assisting non-profits and charities, member associations, municipalities, facilities, sport organizations, and parks and recreation organizations, to generate new monies for their facilities, programs and events. Brent is also the author of Amazon.ca’s #1 Best seller in the Nonprofit Marketing and Communications category: Reality Check – Straight Talk about Sponsorship Marketing.