5 Sponsor Proposal Mistakes - And How to Correct Them

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Mistake #1 – DIYing your pitch deck

I’m a huge proponent of saving money and DIY when you can but this is not the time.  Once you put together the “guts” of your sponsor proposal, hire a designer to make it look professional.  If you have everything in order, it should cost you less than $500 to have a professional designer polish it up for you.        

Mistake #2 - Not personalizing the pitch deck

Adding a personalized cover page to your pitch deck is one of those little touches that goes a long way.  It shows your prospect that you really want them as a partner vs. just sending a one-size-fits-all proposal to your entire prospect list.  I have more to say on customizing your pitch deck below (see Mistake #5).  

Personalizing your pitch deck is as simple as putting a cover sheet on your proposal that includes your prospect’s name and company logo.  Make sure your designer creates a template for your cover page where all you have to do is drop in the image file and information for each prospect.  It’s an easy thing to do that can give you an edge over your competitors.

 Mistake #3 – Including too much information about your organization

If a sponsor is thinking about partnering with your organization, they will do their research on you.  There’s no need to include your organization’s entire history in the proposal.  

Remember two things:

1) You’re seeking a sponsor for a business transaction, not a donor.  Give them a brief overview of your organization, your mission statement and a short (1 paragraph) impact story or testimonial from a client.  That’s it.  Your “about us” should be one page max.

2) The proposal should be about them, not you. Use the proposal to show them how sponsoring your event will help them reach their marketing or sales goals.   

 Mistake #4 – Failing to include audience data

 As I said, this is a business transaction.  Your sponsor prospect will want to know the makeup of your audience to determine if it’s a good fit with their target market. If you don’t know your audience’s basic demographics, be sure to put those types of questions in your next post-event survey or poll your audience now if you’re seeking sponsors for a fall event.    

 Mistake #5 – Not Customizing Your Package

 Adding a personalized cover page (see Mistake #2) is a small touch that’s easy to implement.  What’s more important is to customize your entire sponsor package/offerings to fit the needs of each of your prospects.  Is this quick and easy?  Nope. It’s a simple concept but one that takes a bit more time to execute but is worth the effort.  

Your typical sponsor grid looks something like this…

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So, what’s wrong with this approach?  Let’s look at it from another perspective.  Imagine that I’m a landscaper and I email you a grid like this.  My landscaper grid looks like this: For $10K you can have 3 trees, 4 shrubs and 12 perennials.  For $7K you can have 2 trees, 3 shrubs and 10 perennials and so on.  

First of all, I’ve never been to your property.  I have no idea what your needs are. You might need 0 trees or you might need 20, you may want a bunch of annuals and a Koi pond and no shrubs or perennials. Either way, my grid and offerings hold little value to you because they don’t address your specific needs.

Secondly, we’ve never had a conversation so I have no idea if you have $20K to spend on landscaping or $1,500. If you have $20K to spend and I send you a grid that maxes at $10K, I’ve just potentially left money on the table.  If you have $1,500, you’re going to think I have nothing to offer you as my levels start at $2K. In either instance, you’re probably going to move my proposal to your trash bin.    

You may be thinking, “But we include a note in our pitch deck that states we will customize sponsorship packages”.  Tell me this…How many sponsors have actually taken you up on your offer to customize? I would guess that none have.

So, what’s the answer? Make sure you know your sponsor prospect’s needs and their budget before you send a pitch deck. Show them that you have a way to meet both through your event sponsorship. In order to do this, you need to get to know them and establish a relationship. If you’re starting from scratch and you have a bunch of cold sponsor prospects, check out my 5 Tips for Warming Up Cold Sponsor Prospects.


Alicia Baraga