How to be ‘sponsorship ready’

Sophie Morris of Millharbour Marketing outlines what rights holders such as Governing Bodies need to do in order to be ‘sponsorship ready’. This covers understanding what sponsorship can do for your organisation beyond income, what you can offer sponsors in return and the importance of having the right processes in place to deliver that sponsorship.

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Below is a model you can apply to your organisation to help get you started.

1) What you need

You will have revenue-based objectives and so your sponsorship needs will include cash, but you should also include elements that would help you to achieve your other objectives, such as increasing your audience, improving your performance or reducing costs through the value in kind provision of products or services.

Thinking this way will help you to start planning what kind of companies you could be targeting for sponsorship i.e. who could provide those services, who can help you increase your audience and improve performance? This will tell you which industries are most relevant and which companies within those industries are trying to target your audience and would therefore be a good fit.

2) What you can offer

We use our own ‘Audience, Brand, Asset’ model to make sure that you are in the best possible position to find a sponsor and deliver a long lasting and mutually beneficial partnership. It’s important to remember that you will be providing a platform for a potential sponsor’s marketing and you therefore need to be able to present your organisation as a marketing opportunity. In particular:

  • Who is your audience, where are they and what do they like and do? You need demographic and behavioural profiles of your audience segments, not just the size, in order to find sponsors who are trying to target them.  

  • What do you stand for? What are your brand values? Any sponsor will be looking to align their brand with organisations who have similar brand values, or who have values they are trying to adopt themselves. It’s therefore important to have a clear and succinct brand statement.

  • What assets can you offer sponsors? This needs to be beyond logo placement and needs to include branded content to your audience, use of talent as ambassadors, grassroots and participation programmes, bespoke events and the ability to build new things together that will help you both achieve your objectives. Having a fresh pair of eyes looking at your organisation will help in generating assets that might seem everyday to you but would be of a great interest to your audience and therefore will be very valuable to sponsors. Study and anticipate the needs of sponsors to show that you understand their brand and their needs.

3) How you can deliver it

You need to have the capability to proactively manage the relationship as well as the sales element. We still see organisations signing a deal and then handing the relationship to someone who might not have the skills to understand and execute the sponsor’s strategic needs. It is important that the relationship management is led by someone who has a strong understanding of marketing in order to continually meet the needs of sponsors.

Finally, organisations and sponsors need to work together to measure the effectiveness of the sponsorship arrangement. The sponsor will have metrics to understand brand awareness and understanding, and they will have their own sales data, but the organisation knows how well the fan base is engaging with the sponsor through their own channels. Once you understand the objectives, what metrics you want to measure, how to measure them and when to measure them, it’s important to plan regular reporting with your sponsor. Be clear on who is responsible for providing which metrics and, once the different metrics are reviewed, both parties should be flexible with changing the benefits to improve any underperforming areas.

You can find more sponsorship advice on the Millharbour Marketing blog at, including our latest article on Service Quality in Sponsorship, based on a guest lecture given at Loughborough University London.