A sponsorship manager can receive hundreds of sponsorship proposals in a year....so how do we make them want to read your proposal? First of all it's important that you are clear on who you are approaching for sponsorship, what you are seeking from them, and your reasons for choosing them. Remember contact them before sending a proposal so they already know who you are and are expecting the proposal.
If they are receptive to a sponsorship proposal...
1. Make it look good: ensure it’s clear, well laid out, there’s not too much text on each page, it has nice visuals and it’s not too many pages.
2. Make it simple: bullet points, clear headings, short sentences and a logical structure will make the reading experience more enjoyable and less time-consuming.
3. Make it short: If a sponsorship manager receives a 20-page proposal he may put off reading it, assuming it is going to take up too much of his/her time. Make them want to read it by keeping it under six pages (at the very most 10).
STRUCTURING YOUR PROPOSAL
There are key parts to any sponsorship proposal, and if you create this structure at the start then you will ensure that your document is clear and easy to navigate!
The cover page should include an invitation to the possible sponsor, a brief description of who you are, and a great photo. Then throughout the document, use these headings to structure the proposal:
1. Athlete Profile (1 page)
2. Reason for seeking sponsorship (1 paragraph)
3. Reason for choosing XYZ sponsor (1 paragraph)
4. What's the request (1-2 paragraphs)
5. What's on offer (1 -2 pages)
6. Contact Details
If you are working on a special project you might also want to add another page for this.
Having some great photos in your proposal will really help tell, and sell, your story.
MAKING IT UNIQUE TO EACH SPONSOR
Now it's time to create individual, tailored proposals for each sponsor. It's worth taking the time to think about the exact content you want to include now's your chance to really wow your sponsors!
Why it's Important
It's natural that when a sponsor reads a proposal they will respond more warmly to one that mentions their company name, products and services, and gives specific reasons why they have been chosen.
It makes it more personal, it shows imitative and thought, and it tells them that you value them and you're not just sending a generic proposal out to random sponsors.
TOP TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PROPOSALS ENGAGING AND INTERESTING
Here are some other great tips for writing your proposal, but above all be yourself and don't try to be something you're not.
1. Don't be too formal and use active language.
2. Keep it clear, concise, and most importantly, keep it honest. Don't promise the world if you can't deliver.
3. Present facts and figures. Numbers such as your social media reach or the audience size at your events are really useful to sponsors. They are business people and as such will be looking for clear facts rather than just vague references. This will make it easier for them to see your suitability to them.
4. Write it and then edit it. Get a couple of other people to read it as well, and make sure it makes sense.
5. Use great photos that tell your story
6. Create a Master Document. Write a generic proposal and then tailor it to each key potential sponsor.
7. Consider alternative ways of sending it to your potential sponsors. The obvious choice is a PDF attached to an email - but perhaps you can send a gorgeous looking printed proposal, or hand deliver it wrapped in brown paper and string… or something really creative! Make a positive impact from the start.
AVOID THESE MISTAKES
Don't send a proposal without making contact with the company first (face-to-face is gold, over the phone is good, email or other social media is ok but really a last resort if phone or face to face aren't possible).
Don't make your proposals too long or too much about you - the focus should be on the sponsors and how this will benefit them
Don’t rush into sponsorships with companies you know nothing about or are not aligned with your values
Don't just send your proposal documents and wait for a reply. Be proactive (but not a total stalker!) and follow up a few days after sending.
Don't worry if some of them say no. Be thankful that they have given you a straight answer and that you are moving closer to getting a yes from another company, the right company.
Vickie Saunders runs The Sponsorship Consultants - where you can find out more about how sponsorship could work for you