On this week’s episode, JP Moery covers the three steps to sponsorship success: learning about the program, developing the sales infrastructure, and initiating the direct sales campaign.
Learn how Big Red M helped a small event triple it’s sponsorship revenue in one year by applying those three steps.
Today’s topic: sponsorship sales.
I want to tell you a real-life story about incredible growth at a small event. The reason why I want to use a small meeting as the example is because I can really showcase the fundamentals that went into this process that enabled a small program to become quite successful.
For those of you that may have diminutive budgets and programs, I’m going to show you a path for growth. You can also implement this for your larger sponsorship efforts, too.
Here’s the step by step process. Then the results.
We meet with the client as the first step in the process and we built industry awareness during a series of one to two meetings. We have a briefing on the event: a general description of the sponsorship ecosystem, the prospectus, the price points, the ability to negotiate (or not), and review the sponsorship inventory. Secondly, we work to differentiate this meeting from the others that the association had, or other sponsorship availabilities, within the industry that could be made available to them. We talk about the audience that they’re going to reach with this specific, focused event. What kind of business development environment is there? Are people actually doing business, speaking to each other, and doing deals? We want to know that. We also address the benefits of signing up as a sponsor early in the process for branding reasons such as mentions on social media, and things like that. I like to emphasize that if you sign up early, you’re going to get all kind of earned promotion as people are starting to register, as they’re looking at the program, as they see your logo on the conference website, and more. I want to make sure that we emphasize the value of signing up early. And then finally, we discuss an administrative launch for the program. What happens with invoicing? What are the standard operating procedures once we get a contract? Who does it go to? Any and all kind of discussions around fulfillment and what the client wants us to do. An industry awareness session, or series of meetings, really gives us the necessary details about the sponsorship program and the event.
The second step is building a sales infrastructure. This is really important. We know that without a good sales infrastructure the likelihood to be successful, and actually grow the program, is going to be very difficult. We upload prospects into Big Red M’s CRM and determine key accounts, or the most valuable prospects to sell to. We also determine any “do not call” list priorities, “Hey, the association will take on these two accounts because they’re a premier partner and they have a full year long partnership program and marketing effort that we need to be familiar with.” Then, we develop talking points for our emails, voicemails, and any phone sales appointments that we may have. This allows us to be consistent when we go to market for the client and have consistent responses to certain questions. We also compile responses to common objections that the association may get in terms of the sponsorship sales experiences they’ve had in the past. We will design an automated email and social media campaign for the sales launch. And, depending upon the length of the timeframe that will we will be selling, we’re going to schedule monthly emails, we may do a webinar launch about the sponsorship program, and also run social media campaigns for this sponsorship effort. Then, we will establish a weekly reporting system for sales activities. Every week, the client will receive a report that includes the pipeline and sales activity (such as: how many emails were sent, how many phone calls were made, and notes regarding those conversations). Our client also receives commentary about what we’re hearing out in the field. We build all of this into our sales infrastructure.
The third and final step is the direct sales program. We initiate the sales campaigns with email and digital campaigns to engage the prospects and track interest. We watch who’s opening the email and who’s clicking on the prospectus. This prioritizes the prospect for us and identifies those people that we should be calling first because they have shown interest in the program. We then conduct outbound sales phone calls and direct email determined by what we see them interested in and to the most interested prospects. We also respond to all inbound requests within one business day. We also ask that anyone who reaches out to the association, their contact information is provided to us so that we can reach out to them. And then, every month, we have a strategy meeting with the client about what we’re hearing in the field, any inventory changes that might need to be made, and any feedback that we’re getting from the market so we can continually adjust and implement an effort that is helping them meet their goals.
Here are the results for when we rolled out this program described for our association client. Again, small event but with good participation and good programming. The year before we got involved: $56,000 in sponsorship revenue. See, I told you it’s not huge. We came in and implemented the three-step process and the first year that we were involved in this program we increase it to $184,000 in revenue for the client. The client netted more than $152,000 from our efforts.
Here’s what else happened. We know that we had more engagement with sponsors. We built the awareness of the association to the vendors and suppliers in that industry because we were more active in selling and talking to them about the sponsorship availabilities. Secondly, because of the increase in the number of sponsors and the amount they paid, we added some sizzle and vitality to the event. People could see, “Man, there are people showing up!” And, “Oh my gosh, they’re doing business together!” It raises the entire profile of the program to sponsors and regular members, or attendees alike. And then third, you’re starting to establish a business development ecosystem of sponsors and members working together. Also, the association working more active with the sponsors. I’m a big fan of this process.
For those of you who run your association, or are in the meetings department, and may have sponsorship responsibility I want to make this very simple for you. It isn’t that complicated: learning about the program, developing the sales infrastructure, initiating the direct sales campaign, and getting better results. After all, isn’t it what it’s all about? I hope this content was helpful to you. I want your sponsorship program to grow.