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Your New Sales Mantra: Always Customize

It should not surprise anyone in sponsorship to hear that customization lies at the heart of successful partnerships. Right now, the pressure for business leaders to develop new strategies and tactics to strengthen partnerships and drive revenue is greater than ever. In order to do that, sponsorship sellers have to lean into the power of customization.

Customization should not be reserved for a singular moment or task in the sales process – it is a methodology that should be used throughout the process.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance of tailoring information throughout a sponsor’s customer journey.

Gathering the right intelligence to get you in the door. Your ability to customize your initial outreach depends on thoroughly researching sponsor prospects, which requires diligence, which equates to that all-too-precious commodity—time.

It’s very tempting, especially if human and other resources are in short supply—to cut corners here, but it’s important to recognize that selling sponsorship is not a volume game. Sending 20 customized emails that reflect actual knowledge of the prospects’ business goals will yield far greater results than 100 that contain assumptions and generic information.

The intelligence you need can be found in multiple places. Direct conversations with company insiders are best but can be difficult to come by. Leverage every connection you have to try to speak with someone internally. Even if they are not part of the marketing organization, they will have relevant information that no one outside the company is privy to.

Don’t stop at category-level data. Although companies that share a category might have some marketing objectives in common, each brand is unique. Assuming anything different can kill your chances of getting a meeting.

Take legalized betting, the fastest-growing category in sports sponsorship. Online research in the category yields many articles, podcast interviews, etc., discussing how the most important objective for sports betting companies at this early stage of the industry, is access to large audience databases for customer acquisition.

That is true for some of the most recognized players, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, who are looking to maximize the number of people downloading their apps. But it’s not the case for others, such as PointsBet, which is spending freely on partnerships but with an eye toward a more targeted audience of bigger-spending gamblers. Approach them with a pitch about the size of your audience and you’ve taken a big swing and missed, without the luxury of two more strikes.

What comes after discovery is critical. Sponsorship Marketing Association members, Summit attendees, and blog readers are no strangers to the concept that your first meeting with a prospect must be used to further uncover specific marketing and business challenges so that you can propose customized solutions.

The ideas you respond with will decide whether the opportunity moves forward. Sellers should ensure that the ideas, programs, and campaigns they put forward meet the following standard: They should be cool, custom and effective. Gerry Tabio, an SMA household name and President and Founder of sales training firm Creative Resources Group, embraces the “Triple C” model for customization.

This custom approach, or Triple C model, will give your opportunity the best chance of success because it:

  • Is unique, out of the ordinary and something the prospect could not have developed on its own. (Cool)
  • Is a solution that will help the brand address its needs and accomplish its objectives. (Custom)
  • Is attached to KPIs or other measurement metrics that are relevant to the brand. (Effective)

Customizing must not stop with rights, benefits and activation concepts. While every interaction with a potential or current sponsor should be personalized, there are two areas beyond promotional ideas and execution where bespoke information is critical.

The first is determining the fair market value of a sponsorship package. The fact that each sponsor is unique in terms of its market position, objectives, etc., means that even if multiple sponsors were to secure sponsorships that are identical in the rights and benefits included, the value to each sponsor would be different.

Properties must consider that reality when negotiating the amount sponsors will pay, applying their knowledge of the company to establish a price point that neither over-values the partnership nor leaves money on the table.

The second is producing post-event or periodic performance reports for sponsors. Although there will be a great deal of information on attendance, audience demographics, media coverage, and the like that will be relevant to all sponsors, fulfillment reports must go the extra mile and include data specific to each sponsor’s activations, audience response, visibility and more.