Imagine that you’ve got at least the bones of a new cause marketing campaign in place and it’s now time to test it and see how the market will react. What do you ‘sell’ in those first few meetings with prospective sponsors?
There are two schools of thought.
In the first school, you never go to any meeting unprepared. That is, you put together a pretty buttoned-down sponsorship packet that outlines exactly what you’re asking of the prospective sponsor and what they get in return. In this view, what you're really selling is you and your competence at the cause marketing game.
In the other school, you prepare a bare-bones document that explains what you have in mind and why they’d want to participate, along with an educated guess of how much money you’re likely to ask for. Then, once you get in front of a decision-maker you ask what they’d want in return for their sponsorship dollars.
Which is best?
Well, it depends in part on you and what kind of person you are. If you can’t do anything without over-preparing than the first approach is right for you. And the risk of making all the advanced preparations is probably pretty low. After all, once you get in the meeting you can certainly tell the prospect that all possibilities… even those not in the proposal… are on the table.
On the other hand, there’s real value in knowing what a prospect really wants from a sponsorship. And it’s hard to know that without asking them. Then, once you’ve had that conversation, it’s easy to come back with a more tailored approach.
Here’s what I suggest. If your introduction to a prospective sponsor is pretty warm… say from a board member or personal friend…you can probably get away with the less formal approach. Make the meeting more of a conversation and less of a formal proposal.
By contrast, if your introduction to the prospect is cold, then spend the time and effort to nail down all the particulars. You’ll want to be professional, organized and primed. Emphasize that while you have a formal proposal, what you want most is hear their reactions, gauge their interest, and test your ideas in the market.