The Only National Awards For Non-Medical / Non-Clinical NHS Staff & Volunteers

Best Practice Sponsorship Approach

10th August 2018

Sponsorship proposals come in many different styles, but a winning sponsorship proposal will have certain key elements that make it successful. Elements such as: understanding what your organisation can offer companies in return for their support, personalisation of your proposal, relevancy of your proposal and keeping your written communications short and concise (arguably one of the harder elements to stick to when you are passionate about your product or event!).

Below are my five key steps for managing the important process of going from a Sponsorship Seeker to a Marketing Partner. Ensuring that you create a partnership that’s not only relevant and well considered, but effective too.

Step 1 – Who are you?

That’s a bit of a personal-sounding question I know. But honestly, how many times have you truly thought about who your organisation is and what you have to offer potential sponsors? By knowing the answers to these questions, it will give you power of knowledge and power of directness. Put another way; once you can say with clarity what the skills of your company are? Who your target audience is? What marketing initiatives you can tweak to show your uniqueness? And what outcomes you can deliver to your sponsors? This knowledge enables you to confidently assert yourself when researching, writing and reaching out to companies for sponsorship.

Step 2 – Who are they?

Before contacting ‘cold-calling’ style to any company you like the look of, feel are relevant, or just want to sponsor you for sponsorship sake; flip the magnifying glass over and see who these companies really are. Create a smaller, but better-informed list of companies who you see as being potential sponsors. Why do you see them in this light? When researching for sponsorship opportunities for the Unsung Hero Awards, I like to use a method of categorising sponsors into Hot, Warm and Cold leads. Thus knowing how much time and resources to appropriate to each company depending where they are on the scale.

Hot leads, for example, being our existing sponsors: max20 LtdCerner, Barclays, Enovation and Fortrus. These companies have shown themselves to be compatible with who we are, our key message and our target audience.

Step 3 – First Contact.

Once you are confident of your companies USP – as well as what ROI potential sponsors would receive from partnering with you – it’s time to reach out to the right people, over the ‘right here, right now’ contacts, who may inadvertently lead you down a less direct path. Remember more people can say “no” than can say “yes”. If you know the best people to reach out to then wonderful, if, on the other hand, you don’t have the best contact details to hand you can still try to obtain these.

When I am speaking with senior management from companies who have shown an interest in sponsoring our awards, I make sure to ask for the contact details of the key decision maker if they themselves are not. A subtle way to do this is to say you wish to send information directly to that person, to reduce your message getting ‘lost in translation’. In most instances your original contact will want to be the person who flags your proposal with key decision makers. Nevertheless, building a solid relationship with all level employees in instances where direct access to key decision makers is limited; will only enhance your chances of having the people who need to make sponsorship decisions about your company make them with you spoken about in a positive light.

Step 4 – Market their objectives

Once you have a relationship with your contacts established, you stand yourself in better chance of acquiring them as sponsors if you speak openly about what marketing objectives are key to them as an organisation? At the same time, be mindful if your organisation can honestly deliver these needs…If you don’t have this information discussed beforehand, you run the very real risk of under-performing in a sponsors eyes later on into the partnership.

Interestingly, it works both ways. Only recently I was having a conversation with one of our existing sponsors who told me moving forwards their company would want to be even more active in promoting out their ongoing engagement with our organisation. The conversation came about because I asked for honest feedback on how sponsoring our event had affected the company in question post the awards? I was pleased to hear that they were highly satisfied with our partnership and felt their ROI was well delivered by the Awards night itself; mainly through who they were exposed to via our high-profile attendee list. Having this kind of honest conversation prompted both sides to think about how we could help the other benefit better together moving forwards.

Step 5 – Track ahead, don’t back-step

Lastly, you need to adhere to your principals and deliver what you promise. In other words: know how you will track a sponsors marketing objectives to make sure you are delivering these on time, and to maximum effect. The two main ways to measure the success of any sponsorship is via quantitative results, which are tangible results that you can count – such as an increase in sales. Or via qualitative results, which are less tangible results that reflect the impact your brand or event has had on your sponsors reputation.

Once you have established their marketing objectives you need to agree with the sponsor how their success will be measured. If the objectives match in the beginning, then there should be little to no disappointment post event. Continuing on from my previous example; the company who expressed their satisfaction at having their marketing objectives matched via qualitative means entered into a partnership with us on these grounds. Meaning that it was already understood in which way their ROI would be provided.

Whilst it can be trickier to measure positive association between your sponsors and their customer base via your product or event, an honest conversation is often the simplest, most cost effective and direct way to provide reassurance that both sides are on track and stepping firmly and happily into a long-lasting partnership together as equals.

If you would like more information on how to sponsor the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards and see our Sponsorship Brochures in detail, visit:

For direct enquiries on Sponsorship of the Unsung Hero Awards, contact Laura Tomlinson: 0161 509 1258 / E-mail: 

By Laura Tomlinson, Relationship Manager, Unsung Hero Awards

Headline Sponsor

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Event Sponsors