There are lots of ways to find new customers: referrals, advertising, public relations, writing, speaking, etc. Let’s take another peek at a unique and profitable way to influence and serve your marketplace. It’s a strategy that’s often overlooked because it’s not through the traditional “front door,” but instead, through the “creative back door.” It will open the door to lots of new opportunities when you learn how to adapt, apply and execute – with sponsorship.
Sponsorship allows you to capitalize on and leverage OPR: other people’s relationships. First, let’s define what a“sponsor is. A sponsor is an individual, company, organization or association that pursues and benefits from the same or similar target market(s) or target customer(s) as you. While your products and services are non-competitive, they’re likely to be complementary.
For example, if you sell computer or management information systems to businesses, complementary partners might include interior designers, space planners, computer accessory companies, furniture distributors, lighting specialists, audio experts, etc.
Let’s imagine you’re an accounting or financial services firm, serving small businesses. Complementary service providers might be print shops, computer hardware or software companies, travel agents, photocopier dealers, banks, telephone resellers, etc. If you’re a remodeling company, complementary businesses could include carpet cleaners, kitchen and bath showrooms, designers, landscape architects, floor covering specialists, paint and wall covering dealers, etc.
As you can see, potential sponsorship possibilities are seemingly endless. The only limit is your creativity. Here are six advantages of sponsorship:
1. You benefit from an existing relationship between the sponsor(s) and your prospects.
2. You and the sponsor(s) can jointly pursue prospects.
3. You can serve new customers, because the sponsor has made the investment, or a portion of the investment. For example, when I speak at national trade or professional association meetings, my investment, or a portion of it, is sometimes paid by a sponsor that’s a major supplier to the industry. The sponsor receives recognition in a variety of ways (i.e., on signage, in the program brochure, in my handouts or even in my presentation with a personal expression of thanks).
4. You, your company, products and services are positively positioned by the sponsor(s) because of your expertise and quality.
5. Your credibility is enhanced by somebody else who is touting your talents.
6. You capture valuable contact information (i.e., name, title, company, address, e-mail address, etc.) for future marketing and sales opportunities.
Some of the advantages of sponsorship to your sponsors are:
1. They have exposure to an audience or a customer base they value.
2. There can be tangible evidence of their involvement, because their company’s name and logo are seen everywhere, (i.e., on collateral, promotional, advertising and support materials). There’s also very high perceived value because of their contribution to this particular customer’s or market’s success.
3. They have distinguished their business from their competitors by finding another business (yours) that benefits their prospects and customers.
4. They create tremendous goodwill, loyalty and the potential for future business opportunities with these prospects or customers.
5. They might be able to now open and penetrate a market or a prospect that was previously impenetrable.
The obvious advantage of sponsorship to your prospects, clients or customers is that they can benefit from your products or services, while the sponsor(s) make a partial, or even the complete investment at the time of the initial offering.
1. Make a list of complementary products and services to your products and services. Start with “general.” List only industries or types of businesses.
2. Now, get specific. (Based upon your list in step one, jot down companies and individuals that are key sponsor targets. Prioritize them. Begin with those most likely to say, “Yes.”)
3. Write your sponsorship idea and how the sponsor(s) will benefit on paper. Don’t wing it. Commit your strategy to print. Read it out loud. Tweak it. Improve it. Make it irresistible.
4. Make a deliverable date or promise to yourself (i.e., you’ll contact these potential sponsors on or before a defined date).
5. Do it! Contact the sponsor(s).
6. Meet. Explore the possibilities. Brainstorm. Strategize. Work as partners. Collaborators. Investors. Visionaries for the future.
7. Take action. Create the event, promotion or happening!
8. Deliver incredible value.
9. Create customers for a lifetime.
10. Reap the rewards.
11. Tell me about your tales of triumph!
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.