a sponsorship faceoff, Dragon's Den
style. On one side, five eager
presenters seeking corporate dollars for great projects. On the other, five
corporate sponsorship officers, each with a mock budget of $100,000 and
instructions to ignore any geographic limitations they'd normally apply.
and hopeful, the five contestants had already reviewed the companies'
sponsorship guidelines, researched their marketing and sponsorship objectives,
and interviewed the officers. Before a live audience at the 2010 Western
, they pitched to the panellists holding the imaginary
Lesson #1 - It's not always
- Sean Rodman of Victoria's Royal BC
Museum opened with a touring exhibit touting Canadian artist Emily Carr as a feminist leader
who challenged her era's notions of appropriate female behaviour as well
as worthy art.
- The MS Society of Canada
(Manitoba division) fielded Shelly Smith-Hines offering involvement
in the 2011 MS Walk to be held
in communities throughout Manitoba.
- Seamus O'Keefe pitched on
behalf of Play On!, a national street hockey tournament affiliated
with Hockey Night in Canada.
- Marc Carnes of the Edmonton
Symphony Orchestra offered ties to a three-year series of family
concerts in locations throughout Alberta.
- Gary Dewar from the City of
Edmonton proposed naming rights for a new recreational complex, or for
Heritage Day, an annual day of
free admission for city-owned historic attractions.
gasps and applause, Dale Hooper
of PepsiCo Beverages Canada
turned to the
first presenter and announced, "Sean, I'm giving you all my money!" Hooper pounced
on the project's great fit with PepsiCo's systematic efforts to retain and grow
female managerial talent.
offered Rodman more money than he'd requested for four locations, as long as
PepsiCo could incorporate a speaker on leadership with a visit to the exhibit for
its women's staff networks at each stop.
complimented all the presenters on their use of social media networks, their
unique customized proposals, and the fact that they had reached out to him in
advance for specific discussions of PepsiCo's goals for its sponsorships.
Lesson #2: More of the same
doesn't necessarily fit
of ATB Financial
found things to like in a number of pitches. He
offered Smith-Hines more than she'd requested in return for a deeper
involvement, and split his remaining budget between selected locations in the
Edmonton Symphony's family concert series and the City of Edmonton's Heritage
some companies focus on a particular sector or type of event. Others, including
ATB Financial, prefer to diversify. Windwick ruled out the Royal BC Museum
because the company already sponsors the Art
Gallery of Alberta
's young artists' competition, and turned down the street
hockey tournament because ATB sponsors minor hockey teams.
Lesson #3: Sponsors' ideas may be
better than yours
of Homes by Avi
favoured the proposals from Edmonton contenders. How
could he resist naming rights on a new City of Edmonton recreational complex
located near an Avi development? He couldn't, and immediately spent two-thirds
of his budget.
noted that his company was not yet involved in the arts in Edmonton. The
symphony's concert series included a three-year commitment. Pollen countered
with a smaller offer for a one-year trial, with renewal if the project met the
MS Society, Pollen offered an entirely different idea: scholarships within the
building trades, with the winning students helping to build an Avi home. The MS
Society could then raffle the home.
Lesson #4: Back to the drawing
board is still a win
If Lucy Railton
of Konica Minolta Business Solutions
could tell sponsorship seekers
one thing, it would be this: Companies that sell products to other businesses
want hospitality opportunities for potential clients, not a chance to impress
the wide world.
potential in the Royal BC Museum and Play On! While she ruled out their initial
proposals because they didn't provide chances to meet potential clients, she
asked them both to try again - the museum with a proposal for private corporate
events during the tour, and Play On! with a sponsorship centred on the
Corporate Challenge portion of the event.
Lesson #5: Sponsor staff
engagement can lead to a winning proposal
pitchers who won a share of Chrystal
's mock budget had one thing in common: they provided or had
potential for significant volunteer involvement by staff. That matters to Manitoba Lotteries Corporation
leaders believe that the high morale from hands-on community involvement
strengthens the company's recruitment and retention.
noted the lack of volunteerism in the Royal BC Museum proposal, but liked it
enough to offer some money if volunteer opportunities were added. To the MS
Society she proposed a one-year trial budget provided they could work together
to grow the scope of the event. She allocated the rest of her money to the City
of Edmonton's free Heritage Day, again requiring the city to create a heavy volunteer
The long tail:relationship
TV version of Dragon's Den
clear winners and losers, but all participants in this exercise felt richer for
the experience. Sean Rodman and Shelly Smith-Hines both agree with O'Keefe's assessment
of the networking opportunity that resulted from being part of the pitch panel.
certainly raised our exposure," says Rodman. "I made some contacts that I'm
Smith-Hines, the publicity for her organization was a bonus but she experienced
a more personal benefit. "I think it gave me greater confidence. I was well
prepared and knew my inventories and properties of what I was looking to sell.
The feedback from the panel and the audience was great."
prepared" was another critical success factor identified by all participants. For
Gary Dewar, the experience reconfirmed what previous efforts had taught him,
"... that you need to have a clear understanding of a sponsor's needs and
wants. Success is more likely when you do
a practical exercise like the Five Minute Pitch result in real-world
sponsorships? Without a doubt, the answer is yes. All participants report
ongoing contact with conference attendees that may result in a future
sponsorship deals. But, as Sean Rodman puts it, "you have to take a long view
of it. The time to close a deal from initial contact can be 18 months to two
years. Making the contacts was important."
not too late win an all-expenses-paid place on the panel in 2011 and experience all the
challenges and rewards that this sponsorship faceoff has to offer! See details here
This article is
excerpted from Winning Together, a
52-page handbook on sponsorship from Hilborn.
Download it at no charge from the navigation pane on the left - our gift to you.