The key to a selling a sponsorship proposal is the in-depth focus on designing activation programs for the sponsor. Before going into talk to a sponsorship opportunity I research everything that there is to know about the company that I’m presenting to. I read every annual report, SEC filing, analyst call, and executive interview that I can get my hands on. I study the strategies of their competitors as well. If they are growing into a new market, then I design it into the activation. If they are having employee retention or recruiting problems then I design the solution into the activation. Launching a new product? Want to demonstrate a technology? Purchasing a company? Launching a philanthropy project? Need a voice for a PR campaign? Redefining their brand? Whatever and where-ever the company wants to go I build the platform to catalyze their core business goals and relate it all to the property attributes of the sailing team. The sailing project is not the focus of the presentation; it is, instead, the base that the entire business case is built upon. It is also critical to show the sponsor that their investment’s returns will be both measurable and also be independent of the sporting outcome of the races. Ericsson Racing's VOR 2005-6 project is the perfect example of a measurable activation strategy, that was wildly successful, even though the sailing team was, arguably, not.
Think that putting a pitch presentation together sounds like a lot of work? Well... it is. Mainly because every pitch must be fully customized for every audience. This is why properly managing the sales cycle can help this process. Leads are fairly easy to generate. We all know people that know people. And there are always cold calls that can fill the pipe line with leads. However, the key is to properly qualify each of our leads into realistic opportunities. Opportunities are the leads where the where the activation case is strong once vetted through the qualification process. It is in the preparation for the selling stage where the research and creative planning happens.
We have a big job ahead of us. It is critical that we make sure that the sailing fan base has an accessible and entertaining America’s Cup 34 and Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12 to enjoy. Hopefully we all can, collectively, light the imaginations of sponsors to join us as we transform the commercialized and entertainment side of our sport.
Again please leave your comments and questions for me to reply to. I've enjoyed reading and responding to all of the comments so far.... Also stand by for case studies in the next blog posts.