Preparing a Sponsorship Pitch | Nicole Newman
Our 2017 Masterclass expert, Nicole Newman, gives us her tips for turning a no into a yes.
How many times have you been politely brushed off when approaching companies for sponsorship? Or had your emails ignored? Or you don’t know where to start?
As more organisations seek sponsorship, it seems the corporate sector is putting up more barriers to communication.
Identifying the right person to approach, let alone engaging them in a conversation, is becoming more difficult.
But there are ways to get noticed.
Do your research.
Are you approaching the right business for your offer? What are their business objectives and challenges? Do you share the same customers? Does the way they present themselves – on their advertising, website, social media – connect to your organisation?
You get a very good insight into a business culture from specialist press and viewing company annual reports to assess if your project is relevant before approaching them.
Find the right person.
This is tricky as companies no longer give out names but a little persistence can work wonders.
If companies don’t list contacts on their website, Google their Marketing Director or Advertising Agency. Failing that, the press section of a website will have a contact name.
As a last resort, call the CEO’s PA – they almost always answer the phone – but take care. A sales call will not be appreciated, but an invitation to a high-profile event will be welcomed. Why not invite the PA rather than the CEO? It’s an effective way of getting to know a company before making a more formal approach.
Practise your pitch.
Whether approaching via a Board contact or directly via a cold call, you need to plan. Consider what will engage them immediately.
For cold calls, script your introduction and prepare at least three reasons why they should be involved with your project; consider your tone of voice and use of language – charm them but keep to the point; think of questions – it’s a conversation not a monologue.
If it’s an email, include a personal and compelling title in the subject box; make sure it can be read in full on a small screen; ensure the reason they should support you is in your first paragraph.
No isn’t always no.
Chances are, your contact will be trying their best to say no to you. Prepare for this and consider your counter arguments.
Don’t be pushy, but if your project offers a genuinely useful solution to their business issue, don’t be afraid to articulate it – succinctly and with empathy. Companies can’t see the value of cultural sponsorship until they can visualise it. Give examples of past successes, describe specific benefits to bring alive your pitch.
But sometimes it is.
In which case, accept it. If you’ve asked the right questions and listened, you’ve gained useful corporate intelligence that will help future approaches – and maybe provide ammunition for future projects.
People are busy. If you’ve covered these bases and your project is a good fit, you’ll get a response. And if not, there’s always the next one…
Nicole Newman will present our 2017 masterclasses in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth in March. These events are sold out but keep an eye on the website for more arts sponsorship insight and wisdom from Nicole in coming months. Learn more about our professional development opportunities.