Anyone who attends my workshops knows my thinking on this – the gold, silver, bronze sponsorship package “metal levels” are dead. The days when a company buys into a prepackaged sponsor benefits plan are becoming a thing of the past, yet I’m amazed at the number of organizations that continue to offer these packages as the greatest thing since sliced bread.
I recently completed an assessment of an organization’s sponsorship program and the most innovative thing they had done in the last 5 years was to add a new “titanium” level to their gold, silver, bronze, sponsorship program. Overall, they had approximately 12 levels of sponsorship with each level separated by about $500!
Prepackaged Sponsorship Implies “Cookie-Cutter”
One of the biggest problems with prepackaged sponsor benefits programs is that they imply that every company is the same, with similar objectives and want the same solutions to their challenges. And one of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is thinking that all companies want to focus on branding (i.e. logo visibility). In my experience, the range of corporate objectives is very diverse, depending on the type of firm and industry. As an example, a well-known company that is interested in increasing in-store traffic through coupon distribution will not be as interested in generating awareness as in getting coupons in the hands of patrons in a timely fashion. Conversely, a company that is new to the community may want to focus on branding and awareness because they want to increase their visibility in the marketplace.
The second problem is because many of the benefits offered in prepackaged benefit programs may be of little or no interest to a particular company, the opportunity will be viewed as less valuable, which means that the odds of you getting the financial support you want are slim. Whereas, a benefits package customized to help companies reach specific objectives is going to receive top consideration and dollar.
There are Exceptions
Prepackaged benefits programs can serve as a useful starting point for the baseline value of a sponsorship, but should always include a statement that suggests you’ll customize to meet their needs. This would imply that there is a minimum investment to participate at certain levels such as a Presenting, Major Sponsor or Supporter level, but you’ll further tailor meet their specific requirements.
You should also position these packages according to the types of benefits offered. For example, “the ultimate branding package” or “booth traffic building package” or “leadership positioning package” can be tailored to specific corporate objectives. A word of caution is that the benefits being offered need to fit the objective. The advantage of effective positioning is that for companies looking to achieve a specific objective, these sponsorships offer a bundled solution that makes it easy for them to buy-in. This approach can be very useful at industry conferences for B2B companies who know the market and have focused goals such as establishing a leadership position above their competitors. Even in this situation, you should always be ready for some customization to address their specific needs.
Ditch the Gold, Silver, Bronze Sponsorship Thing!
If your sector warrants multi-tiered levels of sponsorship, I recommend no more than 3 to 4 levels; one for the company that wants to “own” the event, one for the company that wants to be viewed as a serious supplier and one for the entry-level supporter. Unless you are a sporting competition or in the building sector, consider naming your levels that support your brand like the Canada Army Run’s Presenting, Brigade, Regiment and Platoon levels.
So, instead of worrying about packaging into neat little boxes, try listening to companies and developing investment packages that they view as well thought-out and responsive to their needs. Besides having a greater success rate with prospects, you’ll also save a lot of time by putting proposals in front of people that are meaningful to them.
Join me where I’ll be discussing these and other concepts at the upcoming PACWEST Partnership Conference, October 11 and 12 in Vancouver and the Sponsorship Boot Camp, part of Sponsorship Week, October 24 in Toronto.