Moving From Selling Benefits to Selling the “Experience”

With over 160,000 non-profit organizations in Canada, the competition for sponsorship dollars is fierce, with some companies receiving 300-500 proposals a week. And like it or not, the reality is that there could be dozens or even hundreds of organizations offering sponsorship features and benefits similar to your proposal. So the big question is, how do you stand out from the sea of competition?

One of the most powerful approaches you can use is to move away from features and benefits as your key selling point and focus on presenting the “sponsorship experience”. In other words, you want to provide an opportunity for your prospect to see, hear, touch or get a taste of your sponsorship opportunity – to appeal to the emotional “hot buttons”. Here are some quick tips on how you can sell the “experience”:

  • Visual Representation – Use visual images to give your prospect a sense of what it’s like to be part of your audience. If you have a conference, show pictures of your customers listening intently to a speaker or show a crowded trade show floor. If you are running a public event, show your customers participating in one of your signature activities. Where possible, show sponsor profile opportunities in these visual images.
  • Auditory and Customer Emotional Representation – Post an on line video (through your web site or a link to You Tube) that features your event or activity and includes audience testimonials. By demonstrating the customer experience, you are providing the prospect with a clear vision of your product and its importance to your audience.
  • Peer-to-Peer Representation – If you have current sponsors, feature their testimonials in your promotional material. Nothing speaks stronger than a third-party endorsement of your product.
  • Impact Representation – If your organization is dedicated to a specific cause, use case studies and statistics to demonstrate the results that are achieved through sponsored initiatives. This provides a clear vision of the good work that a sponsor can be a part of through their involvement with your organization.
  • Creative Representation – Brainstorm for other creative ways you can demonstrate your sponsorship product or brand through one of the senses. For example, if you are an environmental group that is involved in planting trees, include a seedling with your proposal that includes a quote from a community member that benefited from your program (don’t try this on line).

The bottom line is that by focusing on the “sponsorship experience”, you can move beyond logos and other unpersonalized benefits to an emotional level where the prospect begins to visualize themselves as a willing participant. And once you make a connection at this level, the rest is a matter of details.



5 Replies to “Moving From Selling Benefits to Selling the “Experience””

  1. Bernie, a visual representation is a great idea that I had not thought about. I often struggle to descibe in words to a potential client what the experience of being a an event is like. Clients often decide to look for themselves and tell me maybe next year. I agree that pictures and video will go a long to describing the experience.

  2. Great article! I went to school for advertising at Loyalist College and we had a presentations class at which we needed to have creative representation(as you call it) to sell whatever it was what we were selling. The assignment was intended to be fun, so I made up a fake product called “Bacon Spray”(spray on anything to get bacon taste without fatty results =) and one thing I did was have a electric frying pan covered up, but cooking the bacon during my introduction. The idea is that I would already be selling them on bacon with their senses before I unveiled the project. It went over very well.


  3. In my association, we use to take a lot of pictures of our event and never use them again, so I started by sharing them with delegates in the thank you letter, and this year I am using them to market the new event; but I never thought about spoonsorship that is a great idea as well as the quotes, I can get them from my sponsorship evaluation;
    Question: should I get the approval of the sponsors or delegate before using the his quote?


  4. Hi Lena,
    In response to your question, you should always get permission to use someone’s quote or testimonial. In my experience, they very rarely refuse and most often, are quite pleased that your respect their opinion. By asking key sponsors for a testimonial, you also get a true indicator of their real feelings about their involvement with your organization.
    Another way to collect testimonials is to make it part of your evaluation document. A simple question or call to action at the end of the survey such as “Would you be willing to provide a testimonial related to your sponsorship experience with us that we can include in upcoming promotional material? Please provide your comment in the space below”

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