How to Attract and Retain Long-term Sponsors

May 23, 2016 - By: Sarah Hovis

 The bond between an event and a corporate sponsor is a strong one. And it’s one, that done correctly, can yield years of positive benefits for both parties such as greater sponsorship recall (consumers immediately link the two) and increased authenticity as a partner. These tenets ring especially true in the world of sports.

Take tennis for example. Mercedes has long been a sponsor of the sport and focused on altering people’s perception of the brand at last year’s U.S. Open. Over 40 years ago the president of the French Tennis Association wanted box seats built on centre court at Roland-Garros, home of the French Open. BNP (now BNP Paribas) agreed to finance the construction and in exchange their initials appeared on the court cover and an official sponsorship was born. But the single longest sponsorship in sports history belongs to British sporting goods manufacturer Slazenger at 114 years. Fostering quality sponsorships takes time, as does maintaining your relationships with them. Erin Fischer, marketing manager at Plenty Consulting suggests starting with these three tips when cultivating long-term corporate sponsorships:

  1. Put Their Needs First
    Focus heavily on ‘them’ rather than ‘you’ when pitching sponsorship to a potential partner. What are the benefits they will receive by partnering with you? Highlight the benefits that will appeal to them the most. Ask questions aimed at getting to know what their internal sponsorship goals are, what is important to them, and then cater your sponsorship packages to those needs.
  2. Recognize Which Sponsorships Will Work
    Just because a sponsor is willing to support your event or cause doesn’t mean you should jump on board. Instead, make sure their values align with your mission. Six years ago the American Academy of Family Physicians learned this lesson the hard way after
    receiving backlash from their partnership with Coca-Cola. Since soda is considered a well-known contributor to obesity, many felt the partnership conflicted with the nonprofits mission.
  3. Show You Care
    Keep your corporate partnerships going steady by creating value for your sponsor and showing it. Have specific team members dedicated to managing sponsorship relations, and provide them with as many details as you can post event such as a recap that outlines the success of the partnership. And always remember to
    thank your sponsors after the event. Tell us in the comments how you've fostered long-term sponsorship relationships.