I am sharing some insights which I learned along my sponsorship journey, that will save you from making embarrassing and costly mistakes.
Ready, let’s get started!
I established an event planning company in 1999, to help up and coming talents and models gain information about different professions that were offered in the music and fashion industries as well as connect them with some of the industry’s leaders. I needed money to implement the events. I remember when I first walked into the offices of corporations and asked to speak with someone who will invest in my events; before anyone gave my verbal proposal any consideration I was adversely escorted to the door. After a few times of this happening I became disgruntled with the process. I wondered why didn’t anyone understand my event’s purpose, and how it could benefit them. After all, I did have many years of experience in sales and was selling something I was passionate about. Plus, before I walked into those offices, I had already secured investors (King Bravel Records and Top Choice Corp., whom later agreed to be called my event sponsors after explaining the type of relationship and partnership I created for them) so my confidence was so high. For the record, securing investors was not what I wanted although that was what I asked those two companies to do. I didn’t want investors; I wasn’t looking to flip anyone’s money, that’s not what I did or knew how to do. I wanted to connect brands with audiences – and that is what I told them. I also told my two investors that I would return their investment. However, it never really made sense to pay them back directly with cash because they were paying to connect with their target and cross-over audience. During this time however I never heard about sponsorship so I couldn’t ask for sponsorship. At some point after facing more rejections from major corporations the word sponsorship or sponsor came into my realm. I have no recollection to this day how it came to me. The word came, but not the process. I stopped using the word invest and replace it with sponsor; partnered with my sales pitch:), Wallah! I was in the event sponsorship realm and business, and still loving it to this day! So what’s the lesson here, let me highlight. Lesson: Do not ask companies to invest in your events if you are seeking sponsors.
The first event I coordinated was Entertainment Industry Network Seminar “sponsored” by King Bravel Records (Jamaica), (yes this company is an investor initially; however, after learning about sponsorship then reminding the investor of what my core intention was, he agreed to convert from investor to sponsor, after all- the benefit that I had offered was still valuable). That benefit was to connect the music label with a new demographic. King Bravel Records (Jamaica) specialized in making music for some of reggae’s top musicians. Through my event, I connected the label’s music studio service with a hip hop audience. Unfortunately something unforeseeable happened; after promo ads were placed and invitations sent out, the school notified me that my event was canceled. Although I was able to get another date which was a month away from the original date, the damage was done and audience attendance was low. Mistake: Not measuring sponsorship results. Another mistake, not putting sponsor name on printing materials. In 1999 V.I.S.I.B.I.L.I.T.Y was huge. Sean Combs was the greatest street promoter, offering relentless visibility – to give you a visual of what his promotional muscle looked like, think of Time Square lights in New York City – his posters were lit up everywhere. Obviously times have changed and sponsors seek more than just visibility, ie. banners, social media, etc.
The second event I coordinated, Entertainment Industry Network Seminar 2, was sponsored by Kinko’s along with a few more sponsors. TIP: If a sponsor has already allocated their budget to another event; ask for in-kind sponsorship.
The day after the event above, on June 10, I implemented a Children’s Fashion & Talent Show sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger. This event was featured in The New York Daily News. I remember one sponsor pulled their sponsorship after I placed their name on the flyers. Lesson: Get sponsor agreement in writing, most importantly -rebound quickly because the show must go on.
Ready to learn how to secure sponsors? Listen to the 9 steps that are needed to secure sponsors mentioned in this video. If you decide sponsorship is right for you, order now, in its Third Edition, How To Secure Sponsors Successfully.