WIN OVER POTENTIAL SPONSORS
BY JESSICA D. SQUAZZO
Associations historically have viewed sponsorship rograms as sources of reliable non-dues revenue. As the role of sponsorship programs in associa- tions evolves, however, more organizations also are viewing them as ways to enhance member benefits.
As sponsorship programs mature, associations are placing
increased emphasis on showing sponsors the value of associations compared to that of many traditional marketing tools,
however, the return on investment from a sponsorship can be
difficult to measure — so much so that many associations
prefer to use the term “value” rather than “ROI.”
If a Tree Falls…
To win over potential sponsors, associations need to show then
what is truly valuable.
“Sponsors are like snowflakes — no two are the same,” says
Diane Knoepke, vice president of IEG Sponsorship Consulting
in Chicago. That said, there is one common desire among all
sponsors: access. Sponsors want to get close to customers,
whether they’re existing customers or prospective clients.
“The person is the asset that informs all other assets,”
Knoepke says. “If there’s no person involved to see whatever
benefit or to receive whatever communication the sponsor
puts out, then the tree just fell in the forest and nobody heard
it. So, we’re always thinking about how the sponsor can get
closer — in a relevant and appropriate and ethical way — to
the people they’re trying to reach. Anything that gets them
closer to that is going to be more valuable than benefits that
In general, what is most valuable to sponsors is anything
having an impact on a potential customer’s awareness,
attitude or — what Knoepke calls the “holy grail” — behav-
ior. Benefits that put a sponsor in touch with an association’s
members are infinitely more valuable than a sponsor having
its logo on a sign at an event. “Signage is one of the most
common sponsor benefits,” Knoepke says. “It has value, but
most people don’t become customers because they saw a
So what kinds of benefits offer the most value to sponsors?