The fact of the matter when it comes to selling sponsorship for a property (event or membership organization) is that you only have one thing available for sale. Hint: it’s not signage, tickets, announcements, VIP hospitality or program mentions. The only thing you have that potential partners want is access to people; the fans in the stands or the members of your association. And, as any prosperous salesman will tell you: knowing your product inside and out is the first key to success.
Now, it probably goes without saying if you’ve been in the sponsorship sales game for any time at all, that most brands and companies today are not looking to sponsorship as a vehicle for charitable donations, but as an effective component of their marketing mix. Therefore, companies are expecting a return on their investment for the sponsorship dollars they are spending. A return that can deliver proof that the investment has moved the needle closer to their current marketing objectives. And, the first step in improving the likelihood that their investment with you will provide that return, is in doing their due diligence to ensure that the people you have access to, are the people they have determined to be their target audience. The people who will buy their product or service.
All of the signage, activation and awareness in the world will never be of value to a corporate partner whose product or service is not sought by, important to or needed by the audience you have to offer. Therefore, having honest and deep knowledge of your audience will save time in targeting your prospective sponsors and demonstrate that the opportunity of partnership with your organization has the potential to be an effective marketing tool for the right brands and businesses. A solid understanding of audience information helps you to clear the first hurdle of sponsorship sales, proof that you have something of value specific to your targeted corporate partner.
Knowing your audience, the asset you have to provide access to potential corporate partners, at its most basic includes demographics (age, income, ethnicity, etc.). Information that becomes truly useful to those potential partners, is a deeper understanding of who your audience is, what they care about, why they love the sport of rodeo, their buying habits, and their emotional attachment to your organization or event. It is from this information that the effectiveness of the potential partners’ marketing message and the opportunity for access to these specific people to help them reach marketing objectives can be proven.
Chances are, a great deal of what you need to know about your audience can be inferred from what is already known about rodeo fans and competitors in general. Luckily, many committee members and staff are of similar backgrounds and share experiences with their fans and members, making it easier to speak to the general thoughts, motivations, beliefs and values of their audiences. Reaching out to those most accessible people and spending some time getting acquainted to these things will greatly assist in the story telling aspect of the information you share with potential corporate partners about who your audience is, and drawing similarities to the audience the company is looking to access.
For the more detailed, gritty, numbers driven information, however, you will need to dip into information rich world of surveys. Of course, there are numerous ways and places to gather this information. In fact, there is a fair amount of general information, including general demographics, about rodeo fans that can be found with a simple google search. Checking the Insights of your organization’s Facebook page is also an excellent place to gather general demographic information about your audience with very little expense or effort.
Depending on the size of your organization and the resources available to you, the next level of acquiring truly reliable and current information about your audience is conducting a survey. A survey, like most everything, can be as detailed and expensive an endeavor as you are willing and able to make it – from conducting a few quick in person polls, to bringing in an outside contractor to execute a full-scale assessment.
In the future, we will address this topic in greater detail and cover audience survey methods, tactics and strategies in depth. For now it is important that you understand the importance of knowing your audience and why this knowledge is such a valuable tool in your efforts to secure sponsorship dollars.