Monday, July 18, 2005

Sponsorship – the answer to everything or to nothing

Ok, so the question burning brightly out there, is how did we acquire the $91,000 required to actually do this expedition?

That’s a lot of cash, when you’re staring straight at it. There’s no way of dodging this huge amount. And hoping it will all turn out somehow, won’t work either.

However, getting back to my talk on goal setting, if you’ve made up your mind to do something, then having a goal means you’ll find a way to make it happen. That’s YOU I’m talking about. You need to make it happen, not just waiting around for someone else to do it for you. Sure, you might get someone to pay for you, but you still have to make that happen too.

How did Eventful Woman pull it off? You already know that I refused to sell my house to make it happen. And, you also know that I’m not rich, and I probably didn’t rob banks, either.

In fact, I took the sponsorship route to finding the money.

Sponsorship – the answer to everything or nothing. It all depends on what you have to offer and how you go about it.
I’ve been on both sides of the sponsorship fence. Everybody, their dog and even the dog’s sports team has probably sent off a "begging letter" for sponsorship at some stage. And, these letters often look like the dog has written them, too – hand-written or typed with a clumsy paws, misspellings, scratchings out and the page is often rumpled and "dog eared". The message is usually plain and blatant: "give us money, because you’ve got some and we haven’t".

Get real, people. You are writing to a BUSINESS. You know, an organisation that works for the sole purpose of making money. It spends money to make more. Businesses are not charities. They’re not here just to spend their hard-earned dollars on you, because you want to play sport, daub canvases, or even drive around the world on some mad, but personal adventure.

Sure, businesses and corporations do contribute to charities and good causes. But, even these contributions are carefully considered, according to those that fit the corporate’s brand values or how much brand exposure (advertising) will be delivered.

Those seeking sponsorship must understand that sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool and appreciate that the bottom line for sponsors must be one or more of these outcomes:

1. Selling more product
2. Enhancing the company’s image – BRAND VALUES
3. Strengthening trade relationships
4. Opportunities to network with major clients
5. Generating significant media exposure

To do any of the above really well you need to be famous. I mean really famous and not a "wannabe". For example, in New Zealand you would be like: Sir Edmund Hillary or
or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
or Crowded House

(you lot overseas think about Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Tina Turner, or Elton John)

If you’re a nobody (not even a wannabe) like Eventful Woman, you are going to have to find another way of getting noticed.

The key questions sponsors will want answered are:

Who are you?

What’s new?

So what?

Who cares?

Doesn’t so and so do that?

Since, I wasn’t famous I had to find a point of difference, to make me stand out from the crowd. If I wanted to have my expedition around the world funded, I had to do something very special.

Quite simply it was:

A) Use a 1948 Series I Land Rover (this is the oldest they get)
B) Do something with it to get noticed that had never been done before: e.g. Drive around the world with it and time the event to coincide with an up- and-coming milestone in Land Rover’s history – its 50th birthday in 1998
C) Do something that would provide me with some credibility (a letter from the Prime Minister, or high profile celebrity, will work wonders)
D) Provide opportunities for media coverage and a way of promoting the story

So, I had the point of difference – an interesting, unique story about to happen. As TH (the husband) was a photographer, and I could write professionally, I knew we could find a way of telling this story that would guarantee exposure for a sponsor.

I "pitched" the concept story to a British international Land Rover magazine, secured an assignment, and then (and only then) was an approach made to sponsors. Along the way, I wrote to our Prime Minster and asked for a letter of good will that I could take on the journey with me.

A successful pitch to a sponsor (or a magazine) will be conducted in a business like manner (which includes a high level of presentation). It will have anticipated all questions, have the answers ready, and will include:
1. Executive Summary
2. The Proposition/Options – be specific about all details; commit to the visibility of the business in clear and specific terms including how results will be measured
3. Investment/Financials
4. Benefits – understand what motivates the business to become involved (altruism or marketing); differentiation – what sets you apart/how you will get noticed
5. Deadline for decision – including follow-up opportunities
6. Appendix – supporting materials about yourself to establish credibility and capability

Using the above method, Repco New Zealand was secured as our prime sponsor for my Land Rover expedition. At the time, Repco’s marketing slogan was "all the right parts in all the right places at all the right prices". Emphasising the marketing synergy of their slogan and my expedition, was a key part of the pitch.

I am very grateful for the professional and personal support provided by the then CEO of Repco, Bob Wyeth, and his extremely competent PA, Beryl Boon. Without either of these two people, and the financial sponsorship provided by Repco, I could not have carried out this expedition in the way I did.

While Repco was the No.1 sponsor, I did successfully negotiate with other sponsors with tremendous backing from Bob Wyeth. Remember what I said about the bottom lines for sponsors? Two of these reasons were about strengthening trade relationships and providing opportunities to network with major clients.

I was able to attract following sponsors due to the supplier/client links with Repco:
CRC Industries
BP Oil
Champion Sparkplugs
Kuehne & Nagel (shipping agent for Repco)

Other sponsors who supported the expedition were:
Rover New Zealand
Kiwi Camping Company
Cooper Tools
Scott-Young & Masters (tool provider)
ENZA (New Zealand apple exporter)

Sponsors that let us buy goods at cost were:
Kodak New Zealand (digital camera, as well as film for non-digital camera)
Toshiba (lap top)

I was also very appreciative of the letters of support and encouragement I received from the then Prime Minister, Hon Jenny Shipley, and also from Sir Barry Curtis, the Mayor of my home city (Manukau City, part of the greater Auckland area)

Finally, my special thanks to my family, friends, neighbours and business colleagues - without whom nothing would have been possible.

© Eventful Woman, 2005


  1. surfed in via BlogExplosion. A very insightful post. I found it very informative as someday I may be seeking a sponsorship for an idea I am working on.

  2. Gidday DJ Slim
    Thanks for positive feedback. Glad you're finding the site informative. Spread the word.

    Good luck with the idea you're working on. Make it happen.

  3. yeah great summary, better than anything I've seen, on how to prepare & succeed at securing sponsorship. will bookmark this for future reference & looking forward to the rest...

  4. Hey Alex, thanks for your comment. There's nothing like finding out stuff from someone who has really done it - like sponsorship - rather than reading about it in the text books. I'm happy that this info is useful and that you want to keep reading.


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