Attracting and Retaining Long Term Repeat Corporate Sponsors

Build Relationships

  • Give yourself a mental promotion
  • Upgrade your networking, association activity, and charitable activities
  • Talk peer to peer with corporate executives
  • Observe what is important to individual executives
  • Research what is important to individual companies
  • Develop a data base of corporations that serve the same markets/audiences that you do
  • Initiate conversations with executives to exchange information about market trends, needs,
  • Interview marketing executives of corporate clients. Offer to keep an eye open for opportunities for positive visibility for their corporation.
  • Ask how they compute the value of “exposures” and/or leads.
  • If you are nervous, practice by “selling” corporate sponsorship opportunities for associations or non-profit causes (like the United Way).
  • Convey your “noble purpose” and position yourself as an agent of positive change

Then, When an Association Lacks the Budget to Pay Your Fee…

  • Recognize that his/her frustration is not about you…it’s about their lack of power and embarrassment that their hands are tied
  • Do not focus on you or your speech…empathize with him/her about their situation. Example: “It must be frustrating to have responsibility to create a powerful conference and not have the resources available to you to do it.”
  • Mention that you have contacts within the speaking and training communities and with corporations, so you might be able to get them some help. Do not promise anything, but convey that you want to be of service.
  • Ask what he/she/they are trying to accomplish with the event, what the theme is for this year’s conference, who will be in the audience, etc. Then ask for permission to make a few calls to your contacts in regards to potential sponsorships. Ask if they would want to participate in a conference call if one of your corporate contacts expresses an interest in their event.
  • Review your data base for a fit between the audience and your potential corporate sponsors. Contact one of your corporate friends/clients/association buddies and describe the event to them. Share information about the audience, the theme of the event, etc. Ask if they would like to participate in a conference call with the meeting planner/event coordinator. If your corporate contact is not the VP of Marketing, make sure he/she gets information about the event and is invited to participate in the conference call as well.
  • Facilitate the conference call. Make the representative of the corporation look good as well as the event coordinator. If there is a fit between the corporation and the audience, let the conversation develop.

Help The Event Planner and Corporate Representative Compute the Value/ROI – Prepare Yourself. It Will Exceed Your Speaking Fee

  • The dollar value placed on a single positive marketing exposure depends a series of ratios:  the price of the corporation’s product, the average sale/customer, their closing rate (prospect/buyer), and their conversion rate (lead/prospect). Remember that the corporation may not want to reveal those ratios to you or the event planner. BUT, if you have had some previous conversations (see above), you’ll know the basic range. PLUS, a typical value assigned to a positive exposure is $ .50 (US dollars).
  • Start with how the event will be promoted:
  1. If the corporation could get some visibility on the association’s website, ask how many hits the association gets. Each “hit” is a positive exposure for the corporation.
  2. Ask if there will be any direct mail sent out and how many people will receive the brochures/announcements/invitations. Again, each brochure is positive exposure for the corporation.
  3. Ask if there will be any media coverage prior to the event. Every press release brings more positive exposure. An opportunity for a representative from a sponsoring corporation to be interviewed is worth many positive exposures.
  4. Ask if the association newsletter will include articles and/or announcements about the conference or event. If the corporate sponsor’s logo appears each time…positive exposure. If their representative can be interviewed or quoted, it’s even more positive exposure for them.
  • Help the event planner and corporate representative think through the opportunities for positive visibility during the event.
  1. Will the corporate sponsor(s) be listed on the program materials? If so, there are positive exposures.
  2. Can a banner be hung on the wall at the event? How many times would attendees glance over at the banner? More positive exposures.
  3. Would the corporate sponsor be permitted to introduce a speaker? Have a sign at the door for a breakfast, lunch, or reception? More positive exposure.
  4. Could the corporation introduce the speaker (YOU!)? This is worth more than a logo on a mailer. More positive exposure.
  • Then think through the positive exposures possible following the event.
  1. Will there a photo opportunity for a representative of the sponsoring corporation with the President of the association and the speaker? More positive exposures.
  2. Will there be information about the event in newspapers, in the association newsletter, on the website, etc?
  3. Will tele-seminars be conducted following the conference to reinforce major points?
  • Example: (Look how fast the total value can surpass $ 15,000)

2000 brochures X .50 = $ 1,000
2000 website hits X .50 = $ 1,000
1000 newsletters X 3 X .50 = $ 1,500
5000 readers X press release X .50 = $ 2,500
500 attendees X banner X3 X .50 = $ 750
500 attendees X program X4 X .50 = $ 3,000
500 attendees X sign X 2 X .50 = $ 1,500
500 attendees X speaker intro X 6 X .50 = $ 1,500
5000 readers X photo X .50 = $ 2,500
Total = $15,250

  • We can’t talk fees, but frankly, $ 15,250 would be more than most speakers’ fees. A sponsorship of $ 15,000 would get your fee paid and bring the association a little more money to fund the rest of their event. Even if the corporation uses a lower dollar value for each positive exposure (i.e. $ .25), you will have attracted $ 7.625 for the association that they did not previously have available for their event.
  • Help get the proposed deal documented. If the event planner or the corporate representative are new to sponsorship, remind them that the corporation is sponsoring the event and would pay the association directly. The association would then cover your speaking fee as a separate transaction.

Follow up with the association and the corporation

  • Call event planner for the association to celebrate the results of attracting corporate funds for their event. Graciously accept their appreciation then resume your conversation about what the event planner is trying to accomplish at their conference and how you can assist as a speaker now that their hands have been untied.
  • Note: Yes, you take the chance that you have attracted a corporate sponsor and will not be selected to speak at their conference, but that is very rare. Your well financed competitors are directly buying the platform and are often horrible speakers. You are good at what you do and have brought a corporation that deserves positive visibility in front of the association’s conference attendees. It’s a win/win/win/win for attendees, the association, the corporation, and you.
  • Call the representative at the corporation to celebrate their opportunity for great positive exposure in front of a great audience of prospective buyers. Ask if they need anything else to make their sponsorship pay off. Ask who they will assign to introduce you.

OR… you can create opportunities

  • If you were the person who created an opportunity for a corporation, trust that you will be featured in the final project/event/product. Most people are fair and recognize how a good thing came to be.
  • Select corporations that sell products to the same market(s) you serve. Contact the marketing and/or sales department of a large corporation to discuss trends, patterns, and needs of the market place. Share information about the problems/struggles faced by their/your prospects and customers. Think about what they tell you.
  • Propose educational approaches that would address the prospects’ problems. Those educational approaches could come in the form of seminars, conferences, a national tour, tele-seminars, webinars, tapes, CDs, books, etc. Focus on the needs of the prospects.
  • Help the corporation “numberize” ROI so they gain a sense of the scope of the project. How much more would prospects purchase from their corporation if the prospects’ problems have been addressed especially if the prospects see that the solution came from their corporation? What is a reasonable amount of money to invest to attract those additional purchases? (marketing budget percentages).
  • Your fee will be included in their investment. Make sure you measure results and demonstrate that you contributed to projected ROI.

When You Become Hesitant to do Something…

  • If there is something you want to do but are a little reluctant to take the risk, spend the money, or invest the time. Ask yourself if availability of more money would change your decision. If so, look for corporate partners.
  • Example: when your audience would value receiving copies of your book, your client is reluctant to pre-purchase your books as part of the deal, and you are reluctant to simply give books away for free, look for corporations who sell products to the people in your audience and offer the opportunity for the corporation to co sponsor your books with you. We recently partnered with a self storage company to provide copies of my book on consultative selling to a group of professional organizers.
  • When you lack funds, time, or production capacity to create a video or CD product but recognize that audience members would value reinforcement of your major points, you can partner with a client. Large corporations often have access to excellent videographers, production studios, graphic artists, and duplication services. You provide your time and expertise. They provide production. You both end up with an excellent product that can be given or sold to customers and prospects. You and your client (the corporation) continue to benefit from positive exposure each and every time the product is sent out.

Maintain Your Working Relationship with Corporations

  • Get together periodically between active projects. This demonstrates your genuine interest in their success not just yours.
  • Update one another about market trends, needs, product offerings, strategic direction (yours and theirs)
  • Keep your data base current. Sometimes a VP Marketing/Sales who has sponsored you in the past will switch companies. Now you have two possible corporate sponsors/partners.
  • Look for other ways to make your corporate friends look good. Nominate them for awards. Ask them to appear with you on a panel of experts. Invite them to co author an article with you. Introduce them to other clients and great vendors. Feature them in your newsletter. Thank them publicly. Pass media opportunities onto them. Refer business leads to them. List them on your website.

Consider Other Forms of Revenue Beyond Fees

  • Probably the second most important revenue stream for speakers, trainers, and consultants (beyond their fees) is product sales. Products can include videos, audio tapes, CDs, books, booklets, newsletters, ezines, webinars, work books, assessments, software, articles, etc.
  • Speakers/trainers/consultants who network with others can receive commissions and/or finders fees for referring business to other service providers.
  • Another company can pay you rent or lease part of your facility.
  • If you are focused on a significant societal problem (e.g. illiteracy, cancer prevention, violence in the schools, etc), you could be able to attract grant money from foundations or philanthropists. You might even want to consider forming a non-profit (501C3) organization for facilitate fund-raising. You could even be eligible for donations and bequests.
  • Important projects often require the investment of more time and money than an individual speaker can afford. Strategic alliances among complementary speakers/trainers/consultants can help you spread the risk, reach more people, have back up without the overhead, provide more services, etc.
  • Joint ventures help you do diversify while protecting your core business. You can go after new markets or provide new services.
  • Profit sharing and/or equity deals can help you hire a highly trained/experienced employee sooner which could dramatically improve the results you can achieve for your clients.
  • Although self-publishing is often an excellent option, some books warrant a major publisher. Plus getting an advance to cover your time to write your book can help you find the time to do it, and royalties can be a nice income stream that continues even during your vacations.
  • Imagine having someone else pay you to do things your way. What a concept! Some speakers and trainers have developed excellent materials and have become tired of doing the same topic over and over again, or the demand for the topic exceeds the speaker’s availability. Some speakers/trainers/consultants have developed a unique assessment tool, a complete service model, a multi-part system, etc. If it has a good title, solid marketing, generates profit, and can be replicated, franchising or licensing could be considered. Franchising is the option if the entire business model should be replicated. Licensing is involved when only a specific product/service is involved.
  • Some projects warrant outside investment from venture capitalists or angels. Each state has published and on-line directories for each group. Opportunities to network with angels and venture capitals often exist within state level technology councils.
  • Speakers/trainers/consultants often overlook the value of traditional loans and credit lines. Even though service businesses lack the collateral available to product-oriented businesses with equipment and inventory, many bankers do know how to evaluate non-asset-based lending opportunities. If the market needs what you want to do NOW and you really should not wait, you might want to consider applying for an SBA-guaranteed loan. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers “low doc” loans with a simplified application and low interest.
  • Some speakers/trainers/consultants have established a close working relationship with one corporation. The speaker realizes that he/she frequently recommends the corporation’s products to his/her customers. In this case, an endorsement deal is possible. Endorsement goes beyond sponsorship. The endorsing corporation often pays the speaker directly whereas a sponsoring corporation funds the event.
  • Most of the time, the major elements of a speech can be used in a variety of assignments, but there are times when a speaker/trainer/ consultant is asked to create a program or material for exclusive use within one specific organization. Since the speaker/trainer/consultant will not be able to recover their research and development costs, the client pays as 3-5 times the speaker’s normal fee for the exclusive rights to the material.

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