NASCAR drivers aren’t the only ones who can attract corporate sponsors.
Though they may seem to hog the limelight with sponsor decals on every available inch of fireproof suits and car bodies, there’s plenty of corporate sponsorship money out there for small-business owners to take advantage of.
Income.com has some advice for young entrepreneurs: There may be no better exposure for an up-and-coming entrepreneur than that afforded by a corporate sponsorship deal. Having a partner in high places lends your business credibility and vastly improves your chances at advancing to that next level of success.
Corporations shell out some $18 billion a year through sponsorship deals. But they’re not knocking on your front door just waiting to give you money. You’ll need to develop a pitch to sponsors, stress the benefits of collaboration, show what you can offer them and be relentless in pursuit of a deal.
Developing a proposal
Remember, the corporations you will be soliciting are at the tip-top of the professional world and deal in billions of dollars and tens of countries. You will need to show up as well prepared as possible. Corporations don’t like to waste their time, and if you’re not going to give them a rational presentation, don’t bother coming.
A sponsor proposal is sort of like a business plan, you’ve already got it thought out, but you need to present your ideas in an orderly and businesslike manner.
Creating a compelling proposal starts with a story, possibly an emotional anecdote about your entrepreneurial life, your customers or your area. Clearly lay out what it is you do and what your goals for your small business are, describe the benefits you can bring to your partner – localizing their profile to resonate with an untapped consumer base – and have some references or testimonials to offer them.
When the pitch is through, ask for the money. Don’t beat around the bush, all parties involved in the meeting know the endgame. Don’t leave it open-ended, corporations like finite limits and concrete principles. So have a set amount, or two or three.
Making a partnership benefit all involved
Corporate sponsor relationships are a two-way street, you get money in return for providing some kind of marketing or sales service to a high-profile partner. However, usually the traffic flows more heavily one way than the other. You’re asking for their money, so you better have a damn good reason to do so.
Make it about what you can do to better their position. The first step to doing so is knowing everything there is to know about the business you’re targeting; knowing their mission, goals, performance and areas of strength and weakness will put you in a position to impress with knowledge.
Highlight what benefits you can bring them and promise them returns. Hosting an event or party? Say you can expand their marketing reach and commit to having “x” number of promotional products bearing their brand or company name that will give them a local boost.
Follow up, follow up and follow up again
Seeking a corporate sponsor takes a lot of courage, but the challenge doesn’t end when you walk out of the boardroom after a pitch meeting. You have to follow up on the sponsorship deal every chance you get. Corporations are busy with their own operations, so you have to make it a point to be visible throughout the process.
Call, email, write a letter, drop in, connect on social media, do what it takes to keep your proposal at the front of their minds. Keep showing that initiative that led you to consider a sponsorship in the first place and corporations will likely look at your proposal with the same vigor and optimism you bring to the table.
Income.com knows the very nature of entrepreneurship leads many to consider the pathway to success as a solitary endeavor. But many small businesses need assistance one way or another. Securing a corporate sponsorship deal is one of those ways, and they can help a ton. Craft a airtight strategy, know the corporation you’re dealing with, sell them on what benefits you can offer and never give up the chase.