Welcome to part four of our Sponsorship series
We’ll cover the basics of creating successful, long-lasting sponsorships for your grassroots club.
So far in the series, sponsorship expert Mark Cornish has explored the differences between a sponsor and a donor, how to best showcase your membership profile to potential sponsors, and what assets you can offer to raise more revenue for your club.
In this article, he addresses the next stage in the process: who to approach about a potential sponsorship, and how to approach them. Alternatively, download our free sponsorship ebook here.
Who can I approach to sponsor my grassroots club?
Within your local community, there is a multitude of sponsorship opportunities – ranging from small restaurants and shops to large corporations. Who you should approach can be split into two key groups; those within your immediate reach, and those outside of your immediate reach.
Let’s explore the kinds of people and organisations in each of these groups.
1. Sponsors within your immediate reach
The first people you should contact about a potential sponsorship are those you are already familiar with, as they will be most invested in your club’s success.
Your existing membership
The best place to start is with your existing club membership. You have immediate access to this large pool of athletes, parents, friends of parents, and friends of the club – and this is the perfect opportunity to make the most of it. This group of stakeholders already know your club well, and they understand the benefit a sponsorship would bring.
So, use your CRM database (if you haven’t got one, click here to find out more information about LoveAdmin) to identify who within your membership could be interested in a sponsorship partnership. Remember, there’ll be members within your database who own local businesses. Offering them a sponsorship opportunity before you engage with those outside of your immediate reach demonstrates how much you value them. It also means you can offer exclusivity to them – something that’s very attractive to businesses.
New arrivals in the community
The next group to approach is new businesses within your local community – whether that’s a new retailer on the high street, or a new manager taking over an existing business. Either way, they will have a budget that has not yet been assigned. And while the business is reviewing their planned spend, this is the perfect opportunity to approach with a proposition.
It’s therefore important to keep on top of what’s happening within the local business community. One of the best ways of doing this is by joining the Chamber of Commerce. As a member, you receive information – perhaps in the form of newsletters – about any changes or new additions. There may be a cost involved in this membership, but it’s certainly worth the investment.
Fans of your club and sport
These people clearly have a passion for your sport, so are likely to be interested, and invested, in your club.
Those are the three key groups to approach first with sponsorship opportunities; they are your most engaged audience. You then need to take a systemic approach to who you contact next. More on this later.
2. Sponsors outside your immediate reach
There’s a large number of potential sponsors within your local community, so first break them down into the following categories. You can then assess who would be best suited to your club.
The three industries to approach within this category are: estate agents, property developers and homeowner services.
A great time to approach property developers is when their developments – whether that’s residential or commercial properties – are being put on the market, and they are beginning their promotion. This type of company will have a large budget, so is a great potential sponsor for your club.
But bear in mind that property developer relationships will likely be a one-time sponsorship, usually one-two years in duration. Once the company has completed their property in your area, they’ll then move onto the next community and will no longer be interested in partnering with your club. Nonetheless, a sponsorship of just a few years will still provide useful income.
There are also many service-based organisations within the property category to approach, such as scaffolding companies, skip hire services, or fencing companies. Focus your efforts here on those within a five-ten mile radius of your community – those that would be interested in expanding their awareness among local homeowners.
There are three key sub-categories within education. The first group you can approach is tutors – whether that’s tutoring companies, individuals, or even businesses offering test papers and exams. The next group is those offering educational, extra-curricular learning, such as music lessons.
But the biggest group here is private schools. If there are private schools in your area and you think there’s an opportunity to engage with them, then you should. These organisations often have a large marketing budget and a charitable status; the perfect partnership for your club.
For example, local accountancy firms, mortgage brokers, and insurance brokers. These types of companies are very well networked, so present you with more than one opportunity. It’s likely that starting conversations with one would lead to partnership with others, too.
Catering companies, local restaurants and coffee shops will be very interested in sponsoring your club. Being able to promote events, special offers and discounts to your membership provides them with a great commercial opportunity.
Independent local retailers
These companies won’t have particularly large budgets, but are keen to be involved in your local community. This could be local shoe shops, butchers, or even wineries. And although they won’t bring huge sponsorship revenue, they will still generate welcomed income for your club.
On the other hand, you also have access to larger, national retailers in your high street. It differs between companies, but many large organisations have franchised local stores. They therefore have their own budget to assign to things like local sponsorships.
The best type of company to focus on in this category is auto-dealers. For example, companies selling cars or vans. This is a great opportunity for you club – particularly if they’re in need of additional parking, which you can offer.
Also explore any local taxi companies when looking into the transport category.
Across these categories, there are at least 50 different types of companies for you to approach, each with an exclusive offer, too.
And although not applicable to everyone, remember to take into consideration any large organisations that are headquartered in your local area as well. These companies will be interested in becoming part of the community – not only to enhance their employer brand, but also their CSR (corporate social responsibility). It’s possible some of your members work at these large organisations, so you could have a contact there already.
What should I discuss with these companies?
Now you know how many sponsorship opportunities are available, it may be tempting to send the same introductory communications to all. But remember what we’ve spoken about in this series so far; each business has a unique set of commercial objectives. So, if you can tailor your offering accordingly, you stand much greater chance of success.
Who should approach potential sponsors?
Most of your committee members wear more than one hat. And while they’re great at their roles, not everyone comes from a marketing or sales background. Therefore, there will be certain members within your team who would be best suited to, and most interested in, becoming a sponsorship manager for your club.
For example, a committee member who owns a local marketing business. This would be a great way for them to help the club, and also increase their business network at the same time. Or this role could be taken on by someone who is currently studying business studies or marketing, and is keen to gain hands-on experience.
Note that this should be a paid position. It requires a lot of work, so there needs to be financial incentive. That doesn’t necessarily mean offering a salary, but the least you should provide is commission. This is a commercial, business role that provides real, monetary value for the club.
Hopefully you’ll now understand just how many sponsorship opportunities are available for your grassroots club. At this point, it may be helpful to revisit the sponsor fact sheet from part two of this series, to remind yourself of the assets and benefits you can offer potential sponsors.
In part five of the Sponsorship series, we’ll look into the next stage of the process: how much should you charge sponsors for your assets?
If you’re involved with a gymnastics or football club and would like to hear more about sponsorship and discuss with fellow committee members, join our dedicated Facebook Communities:
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