My name is Marc Zwerdling and I am the President and CEO of Generation Z Marketing. I have been helping brands activation youth sports marketing programs for the past 16 years. Among other things, we manage Chevrolet's Youth Baseball and Soccer Programs, SportsNet New York's "PLAY BALL" initiative and have helped Wells Fargo and Kraft create programs to activate their MLS partnerships.

As someone that has worked for brands for many years, I often get asked by organizations, “how can we get more sponsors?”
Before even approaching potential sponsors, it’s important to determine what the organization has to offer, and what the value of that offering is.
As an organization, you’ve likely got more to offer a potential sponsor than you think. Think back to your last experience at a professional sporting event. Whether you were aware of it or not, sponsorship was likely a part of just about everything you heard, saw and experienced. With that in mind, consider the various types of assets there are in a game experience: physical, digital, live/in-person and special events as well as the limitations those assets may be subject to. For example, town ordinances may prevent signage from being hung at the complex, or a soft drink company may own exclusive pouring rights at your concession stand for the next several years. Reviewing these considerations will help you to determine your asset inventory.
Next, the organization must determine the value of each asset.
These determinations should be grounded in the exposure and benefit the brand. For example, how many participants are in the organization? How many usually attend a game? How many monthly unique visitors to your website? How many members are in your email database? The more you know your organization’s membership, the better.
Once you’ve assigned value to your assets, it can be useful to develop various levels of sponsorship packages. Within these packages will contain the elements that emphasize what you have to offer. Elements include general organizational information, specific information about the upcoming season, levels of sponsorship, and advertising specifics and prices.
Now that the organization’s offerings have been solidified, you can begin reaching out to prospective sponsors. In your research for sponsor leads, companies that fall under these three categories would be a good place to start:
• Sponsors of the bigger umbrella organization for which your league is sanctioned under
• Sponsors of the sport at the professional and college levels.
• Brands who show a commitment to youth, community or sports
Websites and social media are two great ways to find information efficiently. Use them as tools to expand your research and make the connection to the sponsors you are most interested in.
Invest in learning how to mass-customize your communication – it doesn’t make you feel wanted when you receive a mass email. While emails are the easiest and most efficient, they’re also the lowest value type of outreach. Calls are better, and when possible, in-person visits are best.
Once in contact with a potential sponsor, learn about their goals and what would constitute success for them. Sponsorship packages are a great place to start, but be ready to customize an offering tailor-made to the sponsor’s needs.
Once you’ve closed the deal with a sponsor, here are a few best practices:
• Communicate – make a list of your sponsor contacts and reach out to them a couple of times throughout the season.
• Try to involve them as much as possible — Invite them to Opening Day, important league events and special events within the community.
• Thank them at the end of the year – photos, plaques, letters and things they can display in their place of business are great.

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5 Comments
 
  1. CaliforniaCoach March 1, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Great advice – thank you!

  2. YearRoundSports March 12, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Great tip! Would love to hear more!

  3. BobVokey May 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    GREAT tip!

    Would love to see more!

    Bob Vokey
    San Diego, CA

  4. SammyD May 8, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Great advice – thank you!

  5. PSingh45 May 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Very helpful … thanks for sharing!

    – P

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