Gail Bower's Blog

Gail BowerThis blog will help you and your organization flourish.

Find provocative ideas, strategies, and best practices to increase your organization's visilibity, revenue, and impact.

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  • How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times
    How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times
    by Gail S. Bower

What you need to turn mediocre sponsorship results to meteoric

This post originally appeared in Gail Bower's newsletter BowerPower PapersGet on the list to be among the first to receive important articles just like this one. 


What I’m about to share with you is really important if you want to increase your unrestricted revenue through corporate sponsorship.

Your success with corporate sponsorship boils down to simultaneous acceleration of 8 key drivers. If any of these drivers is subpar, your results slip, stagnate, or suffer.

Based on decades of experience buying, selling, and expanding clients’ results, I developed the first sponsorship assessment tool called SATellite that measures these drivers. 

If your organization were to take the full assessment, I could tell you with pinpoint accuracy what’s holding you back and where your operation is strong and weak.

Now before I tell you what these 8 drivers are and what is so important about each, let me tell you why I bothered to develop this tool. 

What You’re Up Against

For as long as I can remember, when it comes to sponsorship, sports entities have commanded the biggest dollars.  Market share has ranged from 69 to 70 percent for more than 30 years.

I used to believe that the scales tipped towards sports because of their enormous broadcast media domination, which only continues to expand through online broadcasting. 

Obviously this is a big piece of it. The sports industry garners huge audiences.

But there’s more to it than that.

The more I worked with nonprofits, associations, and other membership organizations, the more I realized sports’ broadcast reach is only a part the industry’s market share. 

Sports teams employ sophisticated business practices, including hiring and training top sales and business development professionals, to achieve results.

And there is no reason why nonprofits, arts and cultural organizations, fairs and festivals, and associations, which account for 20 percent of the sponsorship spend, can’t be doing better.

In fact, corporations that aren’t paying attention to these sectors are missing important opportunities to grow their brand loyalty from customers as well as talent.

Expanding that market share for organizations, even taking 1 to 2 percent away from sports, is what drives my work.

So, I became obsessed with what made my best clients successful. I made explicit what enabled me during my sponsorship-selling days to achieve significant results. 

Then I boiled it all down to 8 ingredients.

8 Drivers of Sponsorship Success

#1 Quality of the Sponsorship Program

Bold, strategic, and results-driven sponsorship value created specifically for a company is what attracts the best partners. If you’ve been around my work long enough, you know that Gold, Silver, and Bronze—or equally generic programs—do not cut it in this highly competitive arena.

#2 Quality of the Property

Corporations want to be aligned with great events, campaigns, programs, and initiatives.  Turn your events and other initiatives into compelling assets with great visibility and increasing audiences. Events should be:

  • well promoted and publicized
  • growing
  • safe
  • organized and well run
  • fun
  • profitable, and
  • meaningful.

#3 Quality of the Income

Your sponsorship fee strategy should be based on high value for your sponsor and a profitable fee commensurate with that value for you. 

#4 Sales Process

The most essential point of your sales process is the relationship you build with your partners. Your organization needs a defined sales process so you know where you are and where you’re going.

#5 Organizational Competence

Partnering with corporations is a strategic decision for your organization. The culture has to be in alignment with this decision and oriented towards this revenue source. 

I remember a call from a successful sponsorship seller who called me a year into her tenure at a very well-known Washington, D.C., museum. She was acquiring sponsors but faced roadblocks thrown in her way by uncooperative colleagues. By the time she called me, she was disheartened and wondered If she’d made the wrong decision about taking this position. 

#6 Management

The CEO and anyone else who manages the sponsorship seller has to continuously create the right conditions for sponsorship to succeed—evolving the organization’s strategy, pressing the right levers for growth of the sponsorship business model, coaching the sponsorship seller, building relationships, and nurturing an internal environment supportive of these partnerships. While the CEO may not have direct and day-to-day responsibility, he or she has an important role surrounding the operation.

#7 Individual Performance

The person responsible for sponsorship sales must be enthusiastic about initiating and building relationships with the corporate sector, then leveraging those relationships into long-lasting, high value collaborations. 

#8 Client Relationships

Without clients, you have no sponsorship program. Setting high standards for your and your team’s relationship and living from those intentions will propel you farther than most other organizations. Building trust and being trustworthy—operating with your partner’s best interest in mind—is the most important intention you can set. While you have no control over your sponsors’ behavior, you can control your own. Make it matter.

You can see how these 8 drivers—simply product, process, and people—make the difference between mediocre and meteoric results. Sometimes you get lucky. But if you can’t sustain that luck—or know why you’ve been lucky—your confidence fades, your results falter, and you get stuck.

Amplify your operation in all 8 areas and see what happens. I want your organization to take a bigger bite out of sports sponsorship.


Interested in learning how you score in these 8 areas? Take the SATellite mini version.

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