Here’s a method to turn sponsorship assets into answers

Assets or answers?

Selling Blindth_ups_logo

I’m obviously not a big fan of blind, asset-based proposals where it is apparent that the property has no understanding of our brand and what we’re trying to accomplish. We get hundreds of these a week.

Most of those salespeople seem more concerned about how we can bring value to their pocketbook than how their property can bring value to UPS – almost a transactional relationship.

The fact that they don’t take the time to research and understand our business during the pitch process tells us a lot about how they’d likely be as a potential partner.

Instead, tailor the proposal to meet sponsor goals. Don’t make the sponsor work too hard. The words “opportunity to do ‘X’” should never make it into a proposal. The sponsor already knows that; they’re looking for solutions, not more stuff to do.

In this age of branded content, properties offer rights to marks to enhance the ability to create brand context. New digital signage offers better image and really “pops.”  The property’s social media accounts offer scale to create potential value.  All of this is true.

But these are assets not answers.

Brands seek solutions. Too often, properties continue trying to sell assets. Failing to convert assets into answers short circuits client meetings and loses sales.

Properties must take a good look in the mirror and ask the tough question: “Do we take an answers or assets approach to selling?”

Don’t make an asset out of yourself

Of course, most will respond “answers.” The reality lies in your “go to” presentation approach. Does your typical presentation:

  • Outline the broad demographics of your fan base–without customizing to the client’s primary target?
  • Highlight new digital signage–without considering the client’s communication objectives?
  • Feature the volume of followers or likes–without discussing the real value to each specific client?

An assets approach focuses on the needs and benefits of the property. An answers approach focuses on the needs of the brand and how to integrate assets into a plan to lift the brand.

The answers approach

An answers approach addresses three primary questions brands contemplate during a presentation:

1. Does this property enable us to communicate with our primary target market?  If you’re speaking to the client and don’t know and understand their primary target, the client hears the same thing Charlie Brown heard from his teacher: “Wa, Wa, Wa.”  The starting block of any partnership provides this answer–does the property deliver the brand’s target market? Offering little or no convincing data you deliver a sizable piece of this target means little or no chance of closing a deal.  For example, that huge millennial audience you deliver through social media is simply an unrelated asset if the brand’s target is baby boomers.

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2. How does our target market consume the content and experiences this property offers? Are the content & experiences consistent with our brand marketing strategy and approach? Brands want to integrate not interrupt. Where and how is the brand’s target market investing time and passion? Integrate with context rather than interrupt with contests.   Touting contests is an assets approach. Discussing context is an answers approach.

Context: Context refers to how the target engages the brand via the property. Is it at home in front of the television? On site at events? Online with social media or website content? In-store buying merchandise? Sharing the engagement context confirms the target is a significant part of your fan base. You show you understand which assets will engage the target in line with the brand’s strategy.

3. How will this property motivate my target market to ultimately think, feel, and act differently about our brand? Brands invest in sponsorships for generally one of four reasons: To build brand awareness, impact brand perception, sell product(s)/service(s) or generate/drive leads.   Properties must determine which objective(s) brands are trying to achieve.

Renewals Too verizon-logo

It’s especially important to a company in the technology sector like ours that properties take the time to understand our business needs, goals and objectives before proposing anything.

We will often encourage pre-proposal calls to discuss those things in order to avoid wasting time on a “packaged” proposal.

It can be even more frustrating in a renewal scenario where a property doesn’t check in to ask about current business direction. Things move and evolve quickly in our category and we need properties that acknowledge that fact and respond accordingly.

Benefits of the Answers Approach

Brands come to properties because they have questions. An answers approach:

  • shows initiative,
  • drives meaningful conversation,
  • enhances the productivity of a meeting, and
  • enables a property to present an opportunity to positively impact their business.

Assets might grab attention and really “pop.” Answers uncork potential. So find a brand and go “pop” some questions.

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