How to maximise your sponsorships

Useful information to help you to identify and reach potential new sponsors.

Sponsorship is an essential source of income for clubs of all sizes and plays a huge part in helping clubs to reach their income targets. It is also an established feature of financing in British sport and one way of providing vital additional income for clubs to help maintain and improve their facilities.

The following article will provide you and your club with some useful information to help you to identify potential new sponsors, as well as offering some guidance on understanding what the club has to offer and how you can best reach out to these potential sponsors.

All sponsors are different and are looking for different benefits to extract from their sponsorships. That being said, most sponsors are looking for clubs that can make a valuable and quantifiable contribution to their brand. To achieve this, the sponsorship must have natural synergies and be a good fit with the brand’s personality.

A guide to understanding your club’s valued assets

Sponsorship can be hard to find, and it’s therefore essential to be organised and professional in the way you go about sourcing new sponsors. The following tips may be helpful:

  • Appoint a sponsorship co-ordinator

    - No matter the size of your club, it’s important to have a coordinator who is responsible for sponsorship and to whom all sponsorship communications can be directed..

  • Decide what you are seeking sponsorship for

    - This can be identified by doing what is known as a sponsorship audit. There are two elements to this which are outlined below…

The Club Audit

In the club audit, you want to identify what your Club has to offer a potential sponsor. Within this you can include information like the following:.

  • The number of events you hold per year

  • Number of participants and spectators

  • Secondary audiences you have through other outlets e.g., newspaper, radio etc

  • Database numbers that could connect the business to new customers

  • Schools’ programmes that they can use to build their reputation

  • International tickets to use to build relationships with existing customers

The club audit should also outline the various opportunities the club are able to offer potential sponsors to display their logo. This should include promotional materials as well as well as at event e.g., posters, programmes, vehicles etc.

Once you have identified the assets your club has available to offer potential sponsors, it is then important to review those assets to understand exactly what value they hold. While sponsorship fees differ based on size of audience and what you are able to offer, have a sensible but achievable figure in mind before speaking to potential sponsors.

The Sponsor Audit

Similar to the Club Audit, in the Sponsor Audit, you will identify potential sponsors and what they are seeking to achieve through their marketing activities. An effective way of doing this is researching local or trade papers to get the names of companies. Once you have completed the audit, it’s then important to carry out the relevant research to understand how accurately the marketing objectives of each of these companies align with those of your club.

Tips for identifying and engaging possible new sponsors

Building up a target list

In order to build up a target list, it is essential to do the relevant research, which can be achieved via the following:

  • Business/council websites

  • Word of mouth

  • Local newspapers

  • Business magazines

  • New companies relocating to the area

Once you have identified those businesses you’d like to target from your research, you’ll then need to establish a contact at each of these businesses that is responsible for sponsorship or marketing. The best way to do this is to phone the business and request the details of the relevant person.

Identifying what your target businesses want in return

It is important to understand what your sponsor wants in return for their investment before you approach them. This information can often be found on their website.

Some examples of benefits that can be offered to sponsors in return:

  • Advertising opportunities including pitch & clubhouse signage, post protectors, programmes

  • Match tickets

  • Use of the club house and club events

  • Kit branding

  • Website and social media

  • Club databases & ability to contact members with emails

  • A platform to engage the local community

Top Tip: It’s important to know what the sponsor wants. What are their objectives? If you take the time to establish the sponsor’s objectives, you’re indicating that it’s about them, what they want and how together you can use your USP’s to achieve their objectives.

There are 5 main reasons why a business might want to sponsor your club:

  1. To find more customers

  2. To assist in retaining its existing customers

  3. To assist in developing brand awareness for the business

  4. To build up their reputation of the business in the local community

  5. To motivate and reward their workforce

What does the club have that can fulfil these needs?

  • To find more customers – databases, members, supporters

  • To retain customers – hospitality and games and events when the business can interact with its clients

  • Brand awareness – shirt advertising, website, pitch side hoarding, programme, roadside advertising

  • Build their reputation – involvement in community and mini rugby activity

  • Motivate workforce – be seen to support sport activity in their community. Employee involvement through volunteering opportunities, access to the club’s facilities for sports day, etc.

Consider hosting an open day to showcase your club

Consider inviting potential sponsors down to one of your club open days, or a major matchday weekend – give them a taste of what you can offer them. This will allow them to get a sense of the atmosphere at your club, a chance to see the local community engaging with your club matches, your clubhouse activities, and any wider activity you might run on a weekly or monthly basis for your membership base.

Your potential sponsors will likely be interested in using the club to engage the local community as well as their own employees, so attending an open day will allow them to see how your club can help them deliver against these objectives.

What could the Open Day consist of?

  • Full day of sport including junior games and first team games

  • Free / discounted bar between certain hours of the day

  • Player of the Match prizes

  • Children activities throughout the day e.g., inflatables

  • Consider calling out areas where the sponsor’s investment will be used – e.g. updating the club kit, or installing equipment into the clubhouse to help improve events, etc.

A guide to building a sponsorship package

Structuring your sponsorship package is essential in ensuring that you are offering potential sponsors all the information they require in order to make the decision as to whether the partnership is a worthy investment.

When writing your sponsorship package document, consider the following presentation structure:

Background on the club

  • Your club ethos

  • The club structure

  • An overview of your teams

  • The club’s achievements (both sporting and from a wider community engagement perspective)

The ambitions of the club

  • What is the club’s ‘vision’ and what will it look like in three years’ time?

The numbers

  • Size of databases – demographics and postcode analysis if possible

  • Numbers of users on the website, social media sites etc

  • Number of participants in each section of the club

  • Number of members

  • Coverage of the club in the local press – including press cuttings if possible

  • Number of cars driving past the end of the road who might see any branding sites you are offering

  • Number of businesses using the clubhouse

Sponsorship rights

This is essentially a summary of what the business gets for its money and will depend on what they are hoping to achieve through the partnership. This may include:

  • Access to the club’s data – in line with data protection laws

  • Advertising sites – website, e-mail, posters, at the ground etc

  • Summer school for employees

  • Table at the end of season dinner

  • A connection/role in the local community

The investment

The investment outlines the financial input desired, when this is payable, and how long-term the sponsorship is, this should be broken down as follows:

  • The term of the agreement

  • The fee or value in kind

  • The payment schedule

Top Tip: Don’t forget that potential sponsors may have assets that are valuable to your club beyond a sponsorship fee. ‘Value in Kind’ deals allow these brands to contribute assets rather than fees, saving your club the money that you would otherwise need to purchase these items. These could be related to infrastructure, catering & beverages, or equipment, and can either make up a part of the deal or replace a fee entirely. Make sure that deals of this nature acquire assets that will either save your club money or will elevate your offering.

In summary, to maximise your sponsorships it’s important to understand…

  • Preparation is vital – know what it is you have to offer, build up a target list and prepare sponsorship/marketing collateral. Try to find out through research how you could help a business fulfil its business needs

  • If you don’t have the necessary marketing skills (do you know how to make a sales call or write a sales letter?) reach out to your club members, there’s a high chance someone does. Otherwise consider finding a local or online course that will teach you the basics.

  • Sponsorship is a two-way street – your sponsors have objectives that they need to fulfil in exchange for paying your club a sponsorship fee. The more you can tailor a package to suit their needs, the more successful the partnership and the longer they’ll stay involved with your club

  • When you sign a sponsorship deal don’t forget to service it! Ensure your sponsors feel like they are a valued part of the club and ensure to check in with them on a regular basis to make sure they are benefitting from the partnership. This will help to ensure your sponsors you’ve worked so hard to secure stick around for many years to come.

Want more help and support? Speak to our expert V-Hub Business Advisers, who offer tailored guidance and support on a range of topics.

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