It’s a Catch-22.

Sponsorship decision-makers say they want sellers to have a good understanding of their business when making a pitch, but how do sellers obtain that information without the first telephone call or meeting?

“Sponsors don’t want to be bothered if you don’t understand their needs. But how do you learn about their needs without a phone call or meeting?” said a veteran sponsorship seller.

While a Google search can reveal information on current and previous marketing campaigns, chances are it will not provide insight into upcoming marketing campaigns, new product launches and other information that sellers can use to close a deal, she said.

“Research won’t provide insight into new marketing campaigns or product launches until after the fact.”

Based on that dilemma, IEG SR asked sponsorship decision-makers at U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo for feedback on what sellers need to know prior to the first telephone call or meeting. Below are edited excerpts from their comments.

Nick Carey, vice president of sponsorships, Wells Fargo & Co.
I was on the sale side at an agency before I joined Wells Fargo so can appreciate the sellers frustration.

While it may seem like a “chicken/egg conundrum,” more often than not sales people contact brands with very little or no advance research into the company, industry, or their other sponsorships or partnerships, and at the worst it comes off as just “dialing for dollars.”  

Properties that do get a meeting are those who have done some research and are prepared with a basic understanding or anticipation of what our wants and needs might be. Don’t try and sell me on sponsoring your event or organization in a first communication – take the time to ask questions and then come back with ideas that build on what you’ve heard.

That being said, on the inside we have a pretty good idea immediately if there’s a potential opportunity or fit for a property with our brand, so I get that it’s a challenge.

Additionally, at Wells Fargo we’ll never openly share sponsorship strategy, marketing objectives, product launches or other proprietary information with a property absent a non-disclosure agreement, which also adds to the equation. But that is the reality of today’s business environment.

Dennis Bash, regional marketing manager, U.S. Bank
We list our major sponsorships on our website. I've found that to be the case for many companies. Sellers can review the types of sponsorships listed, the geographies in which they take place and make some assumptions about the type of properties that resonate with them.

Spending time on a company website - the “about us” section, the "in the news" section, the community section and even the careers/job posting section will tell a seller a great deal about the company.

Upcoming marketing campaigns have to be uncovered in conversations with the sponsor. Current product offerings are best discovered by monitoring company advertising. That would apply not only to sellers of potential new sponsorships but existing partners as well.

I had a partner call when we launched a new savings campaign to say that he thought his property would be the perfect audience for that product. For a sponsor, that's a great call to get. It demonstrates that the property is looking for ways to help the sponsor activate and to create new revenue opportunities.