Roberta is the author of How To Secure Sponsors Successfully. She advises clients with sponsorship problems to help them get better results.

Before the age of two, Roberta was sent from the United States to Guyana and was raised by her grandparents who ran a soda and candy shop by day and a disco by night.  Roberta returned to New York at age 10 to live with her mother and step father in Brooklyn.

My environments where I was raised and grew up were totally different, says Roberta. Other than to school, church and the seamstress, my grandparents didn’t let me to go anywhere by myself. My relationship with my mother had been mostly toxic so I didn’t spend much time at home. Growing up outside of home, I graduated from the school of hard knocks, I’ve directly and indirectly experienced a lot of “events” in my lifetime- more than I thought I could bear. 

Roberta gained a lot of understanding from those events and understands why professionals and organizations want to and do plan events for audiences and communities that lack funding to support mental health, education, homelessness, hunger, justice, and so many other events that plague or afflict human and humane societies.

Age sixteen, at her first job as a cashier, Roberta learned about selling through providing exceptional service to customers. Roberta grew in the sales industry and over the course of three decades, she has gained extensive B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) sales experience and has spent more than 20 of those years in the event sponsorship space selling events to sponsors and providing sponsorship services and education. 

Before the word sponsor came into her realm, equipped with lots of sales experience and a passion for helping the underdog, Roberta asked companies in her community to invest in her company’s events to help up and coming models and talents achieve their goals in the entertainment industry – they all said yes.

Excited and confident, Roberta approached corporate brands outside of where she resided. Gatekeepers showed her the exit door faster than she realized she had been using the wrong term. After experiencing consecutive rejections, the word sponsor or sponsorship came into her realm, but not the process. 

Self-taught, Roberta learned from trial and error how to secure sponsors for her company’s event. All of her events were sponsored; as a result, she saved her company hundreds of thousands of dollars and was able to implement events for a cause she was passionate about.

Roberta decided to share her knowledge, experience and insight to help other professionals sell (any type) of events to sponsors though understanding sponsorship and communicating with sponsors.

Roberta is the first African American to write books on planning sponsored-events and securing sponsors. 

Her events’ sponsors span the gamut from Tommy Hilfiger Jeans and Rite Aid to Adidas and Coca-Cola. Roberta strategic problem-solving, ingenuity, and inquisitive nature have all earned her the reputation as an innovative sponsorship industry frontrunner around the globe.

A few lessons Roberta learned while planning sponsored-events and securing sponsors:

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  • Advise sponsors and sponsorship seekers to get better results. (New!)
  • Coach clients through the sponsorship process (3 years experience)
  • Facilitate sponsorship training course as a subject matter expert (more than 10 years experience)
  • Manage all sponsorship activities including prospecting, sales and negotiation, proposal development, sponsor activation, servicing and relationship management (more than 10 years experience)
  • Secure hundreds of thousands in sponsorship (more than 10 years experience)
  • Save company hundreds of thousands through securing sponsors (more than 10 years experience)
  • Plan sponsored-events (more than 10 years experience)
  • Sales, B2C and B2B (more than 10 years experience)
  • Exceptional customer and client service (more than 10 years experience)

Roberta Vigilance is the author of several event sponsorship books which are available in print on Barnes & Noble and as ebooks on this website. 

Roberta released her first book How To Secure Sponsors Successfully as an ebook on Myspace.com in 2005.

List of Roberta’s books and ebooks :

  • How To Secure Sponsors Successfully (print-Hardcover and ebook)
  • How To Secure Sponsors Successfully – Ultimate Beginner (print only- Paperback)
  • How To Secure Sponsor Successfully, Third Edition Revised (for beginners and advanced) (print only- Hardcover)
  • Step-By-Step Guide To Planning A Sponsored-Event Effectively (ebook only)
  • Step-By-Step Guide To Planning A Sponsored-Seminar (ebook only)
  • Step-By-Step Guide To Planning A Sponsored-Fashion Show Effectively (ebook only)
  • Step-By-Step Guide To Planning A Sponsored-Talent Show (ebook only)
  • 2in1 Guide: How To Plan Sponsored-Events Effectively & Secure Sponsors Successfully (a compilation of all of Roberta’s books and ebooks: print only- Hardcover & Paperback)

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Sandra Kay Helsel Interviews Roberta

‘I NEEDED MONEY TO FUND MY EVENTS’

Roberta Vigilance on Understanding and Leveraging Event Sponsorships.

RENOWNED SPONSORSHIP EXPERT AND AUTHOR WHOSE EVENT-SPONSORSHIP CONSULTANCY HAS FLOURISHED IN THE HYPER-COMPETITIVE NEW YORK CITY MARKET.

How did you become interested in sponsorships and decided to focus on this kind of business?

As a former event coordinator, I needed money to fund my events. I realized my events’ audience would be valuable to some of the companies in my community. I approached those companies and told hem how my event can benefit their company based on what I knew and observed. I realized that more and more companies can benefit from my event audience in exchange for them covering the cost of my event. The rest is history; I went on to planning more events and later learned the process of securing companies was called sponsorship.

What is your broad definition of sponsorships?

Sponsorship is a form of bartering, trading value for value. It’s connecting two (or more) entities for mutual benefits.

How does branding fit into the sponsor mix?

Branding is very important. It has to be done strategically. Sponsors have to make a personal connection with the event they are sponsoring. A sponsor should look at an event as though they though about it themselves; they should feel the passion and the purpose of the event.

The difference between sponsorships and advertising?

Let’s take the Superbowl for example; we see commercials competing for our attention. Sponsorship opportunities have more of an up close and personal feel. The sponsor should know exactly who they are placing their brand in front of. Sponsorship audience doesn’t need to be “sold”. When sponsorship shows up at the right events, the audience automatically knows which company or who they will support.

How do you research in terms of whether a sponsorship can meet your goals and objectives? (Demographic metrics such as age, income, geography, etc.)

I think about which company can benefit from my event audience. I also think about which company my audience can benefit from. I like to use sponsorship as a way to resolve issues. Having Tommy Hilfiger as one of the sponsors for my Children’s Fashion and Talent Show during the time the rumor came out that he didn’t make his clothing for black people, is a perfect example.

Expect long-term and short-term benefits for sponsorships to the “Buyer”.

Sponsorship term is totally up to the (event) organizer and sponsor. I’m more of a lifetime commitment [adviser]. Connecting organizers and sponsors to benefit generations of consumers or supporters; however, that may not work for every scenario.

Calculating ROI, is that possible and in what terms, i.e., financial, leads?

There are many ways sponsors can tract or measure ROI. I am glad more and more sponsors are doing this. Instead of acting like advertisers, they are becoming more vigilant and taking their role as a sponsor seriously. An example of calculating ROI (can) be a sponsor gaining recognition as a participant to a solution of a problem. When measuring sponsorship ROI [success], you want to ensure the benefits equal or exceed the sponsorship value.

What should be in a contract?

Definitely what the sponsor is getting, what their benefits are. This is the road map and memory jogger to what to expect form the sponsorship opportunity.

A lot has been written about the emotional connections offered by sponsorships, what is your opinion on this count?

That is what makes sponsorship different from other marketing mix. A sponsor must look at an event as a solution or improvement that will meet their needs or that of communities they are attached to.

What does the sponsoring organization receive besides the money?

I was surprised with I head Donald Trump quote a section in my book that says, “Not Always about Money”. What that means to me, besides cash, make a list of what (your) event needs to meet the expected outcome. Due to prior financial commitments, a company may only be able to sponsor equipment, venue, or other product or service that your event needs, maybe event a guest speaker. The sponsoring organization can build good-will with the community the sponsorship reaches, receive donations, reach donors, and a lot more benefits.


Interview by Sandra Kay Helsel

Events, either stand-alone or as part of a rights holder, such as team community days or end of season functions, bring people together where they are highly engaged and usually with really positive attitudes.

For rights holders, there is a finite amount of time to deliver the event and, in turn, deliver for sponsors. There’s not a lot of wriggle room if something goes wrong. Still, for sponsors, events can be highly attractive because of a large gathering of highly engaged people from their target audience.

Whether you are a rights holder or a brand, all of this presents not just a big opportunity, but also a unique set of challenges in executing sponsorship.

Someone who is well placed to discuss the unique challenges, how to navigate them, and enjoy success, is Roberta Vigilance. Since 1997, Roberta, through her event planning company, Vigilance Style & Grace, has consulted and taught how to plan sponsored events and secure sponsors from local through to corporate brands and Roberta joins us on the show to discuss all things event sponsorship.

Before COVID, Roberta was on a library tour to bring event sponsorship awareness to libraries to help communities thrive. Roberta is available for virtual tours.

Sponsorship Talk with Roberta Vigilance

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For sponsors and sponsorship seekers

Problem solve – advise clients with sponsorship problems to get better results.

  • Research problem within the sponsorship.
  • Provide solutions.
  • Convert unsuccessful sponsorship to successful sponsorship.
  • Fix the problem.
  • Improve the sponsorship.

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