The Assn. of National Advertisers has given itself a nice gift to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the organization: A 50 percent increase in sponsorship revenue.

The trade association for corporate marketers has posted the increase for ’10 after rolling out a new sponsorship sales and packaging strategy.

The ANA has used the strategy to both upsell existing sponsors on larger relationships and secure two first-time partners: Starcom MediaVest Group and Ogilvy & Mather.

In addition to incremental revenue, the new strategy also provides another important resource for the association: access to sponsor content and insights that benefit ANA’s members

“Properties need to identify assets that are valuable to potential sponsors, and equally important, where a sponsor can provide value back,” said Bill Duggan, the ANA’s group executive vice president.

One caveat: Sponsor-provided information, whether delivered through presentations at conferences or through a property’s publications and other communications vehicles, must be relevant, targeted and useful—and definitely not a sales pitch, Duggan added.

Below, IEG SR highlights three steps the ANA has taken to bolster its sponsorship revenue.

Employ a less-is-more strategy. Like many other associations, the ANA previously took an a la carte approach to sponsorship, offering on-site exposure and other benefits at its roughly 10 national industry conferences.

For the most part, the association used the deals to offset costs associated with coffee breaks, luncheons and other activities, Duggan said.

“If it cost $20,000 for a lunch, we’d look for a sponsor to cover that cost.”

Rather than continue to offer piecemeal inventory to scores of sponsors, the ANA repackaged its benefits to focus on fewer higher-level sponsorships that offer better positioning and access to ANA members and justify higher sponsorship rights fees.

“We had some nickel-and-dime opportunities where we would be selling rights for $1,000,” Duggan said. “Some of those lower value sponsorships were more time consuming to manage than our bigger partners.”

The association’s top-tier Strategic Partner level offers year-round access and exposure to ANA members through multiple touch points, including conferences, newsletters, committee meetings and webinars. Strategic Partners—including Starcom and O&M—receive exclusive networking opportunities and are prominently positioned on the home page of ANA.net.

The organization caps the number of Strategic Partners at 12 and has sold all of the packages.

The ANA’s three other levels afford the opportunity to align with specific events and programs, Duggan said.

“If a marketer is only interested in a singular event, such as a multicultural marketing and diversity conference, they have that opportunity.”

Gain buy-in from the top. Demonstrating the association’s commitment to the new strategy, the ANA’s top executives have frequently taken part in meetings with existing sponsors and prospects about the new partnership approach.

“The support of senior management, particularly our president and CEO, Bob Liodice, was crucial,” Duggan noted. “He went on virtually every strategic partner sales call. That demonstrated the ANA’s commitment to this program and also allowed access to senior management at potential partners.”

More focus on sponsor servicing. The ANA’s new strategy includes an emphasis on working with partners on an ongoing basis to ensure their needs and objectives are being met.

“The work doesn’t end when you sell a program,” Duggan said. “A good part of our work, and the key to our success, is servicing our strategic partners. We hope to renew every one of our partners at the end of the year.”

To ensure that happens, the association created a new full-time position to service partnerships.

“We need to make sure we have the appropriate resources in place after we’ve done a deal. Our sponsors are on board for this year, but we look at these as long-term relationships.”

IEG SR publisher IEG, LLC’s Sponsorship Consulting division helped the ANA develop its new sponsorship strategy.