In case you missed out on the Small Business Supercharge in May this year, we’re pulling some highlight moments from the day to share!
This Week: Charmaine Hammond’s Interview and the Power of Sponsorship
Begin Video Transcript:
So many people hear the word sponsorship and find it’s a turn-off, even when coupled with collaboration.
I know that I was originally iffy on the idea of having sponsors, because I didn’t want to bring someone on that I didn’t believe in. But could you dig into sponsorship and talk to the people who don’t like the idea of sponsorship, or maybe think they have nothing to be sponsored?
Well, part of the challenge is not every one actually understands what sponsorship is.
The best way to think of it is as a marketing relationship: that’s the key. Most people misunderstand sponsorship because they’ve had bad experiences either as a sponsor seeker or as a sponsor, which translates into bad results.
Sponsorship: A Marketing Relationship
Something important to keep in mind is that sponsorship really is a marketing relationship. It's not a handout. It's not free money. And it’s important to keep this in mind because the way you think about sponsorship shapes the results you get.
Collaboration is what drives true sponsorship: sponsorship is usually the outcome of really good collaboration.
To improve your sponsorship results, shape your thinking about sponsorship. Think about it as working in partnership/tandem with other brands and businesses. Because the moment I understood that, it changed everything for me!
The second important piece is to understand exactly how sponsorship works, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to talk to the people who think they don’t have anything to be sponsored…
If you think you don’t have anything to be sponsored (like an event), let me tell you a small story...
My first 40 sponsors were zero cash sponsors: they were in-kind sponsors.
Essentially what I did, was I had things like clothing sponsored for me. I had my hair stylist sponsored, my coffee, my makeup, my accessories, all of those things for when I would go on TV for media. I had sponsors of all different kinds who were donating products or stylists’ time instead of actual cash, everything from health products to marketing materials.
You might be thinking, “well wait, what does that really come up to?”
Well, when we looked at what the sponsorship income was, we determined it was coming to about $30,000 a year.
When you multiply that by three or four more years, you realize that's a lot of money that we didn't need to spend personally or out of our business. So there are many things you can get sponsored, even if you don’t think you have anything for sponsoring.
And a bigger piece of that successful sponsorship was the collective energy between the companies. These 40 businesses that we have great alignment with are supporting us, and we’re supporting them. And that’s where the magic really happens.
That’s fantastic! Following up on that train of thought, do you have to be a superstar or an influencer to get these like, what was in it for these guys to sponsor you?
In other words, how did they get something that was worth it for them? Were you coming on TV and saying “My clothes are from ___”? How did it all work out in the details?
Oh, it was nothing like that. Nobody likes that kind of sponsorship, because no one listens. You want to get people listening to you about your sponsors.
If we think about an example of that outside the world of obvious sponsorship…
When you see a logo on a car or motorhome (we had them on our motorhome when we did a cross country tour, to recognize our partners) no one goes to google the logo and make a purchase from the company. It doesn’t work like that, even if it’s a great way to recognize your sponsors.
What really, honestly got them on board with me was the relationship.
I was launching my first book when these 40 brands came on, and my social media was very small. My business pages were all less than 1,000 followers, so no, you don’t have to have a huge social media following. The key was that all 40 of them were friends.
It wasn’t a random hairstylist, it was the hairstylist I’d gone to for years. Even my eye-doctor got involved even though I only see him once a year. But the big key to bringing their sponsorships on board was that I had a relationship with every one of them.
That is the power of relationships and connection. That’s where the power of sponsorship lies.
That’s perfect and so important! I love it.
I mean, one of the things you taught me from the very get-go is that it's not about just shoving packages at people. It’s not about having a sponsorship package and calling someone to say “Do you want to sponsor this?” It's about building the connection, the relationship.
You cultivate relationships for a long time before you even approach people about sponsorship, and the results of that are that people end up able to leverage big-name brands like you currently can. And so how are you able to cultivate those relationships but also fulfill on supporting them if you don’t go on stage and just start blabbing about your sponsors/partners?
Brand alignment is key to that!
A good example of the brand alignment I'm talking about was one of our first sponsors ever: a motor home company in Canada, called Fraserway RV. We found alignment because this company was looking to promote their travel to their specialized market of people traveling with pets or for business, and we were doing both.
So when you're looking for a company to connect with for a collaborative sponsorship, that's the kind of thing you want to look for: regardless of whether you're working with brands like Staples or the local pizza or coffee shop. And here's why..
You need to be able to organically talk about your sponsors, without mentioning that they are sponsors. Beyond saying something like "thanks to our sponsors" at an event, you want to be able to tell stories about your sponsors. Those stories are valuable!
So when I was on a media outlet, I would share a funny story or something that referenced the brand.
One example is about the motorhome company. I remember being on TV and being interviewed about leadership, which seemingly has nothing to do with the motorhome or the tour we were taking at the time. But I actually talked about one of our partners, by sharing a tip. I didn't say they were my partner/sponsor, I said I wanted to share a CEO tip from somebody I have deep respect for. And then I shared a tip from that company. That mini interview, where I spent perhaps 20 seconds on them, was worth thousands of dollars to them.
So look for places to tell stories about your sponsors, because that's where you can truly bring value to them.
Another important key is this: start with people that you know and do business with.
Most people make the mistake of trying to go to a national brand at the highest level. But keep in mind, the Olympics are going there, the celebrities are going there. So you're going to have the best success close to home. If Staples, or Lululemon, or Starbucks are on your dream list, don't go straight to the head office. Don't go there at all. Instead, go to the one that you shop at or in your community first where you're more likely to develop a wonderful relationship and collaborative connection with.
About the Interviewee:
As co-founder of Raise a Dream, Charmaine shares her unmatched experience from sitting on all four sides of the sponsorship table (as a Director of nonprofits seeking sponsorship, a specialist in government responsibility for funding/sponsorship portfolio, as an entrepreneur seeking sponsorship, and as a sponsor for other people's events, projects, and dreams). She has has developed sponsorship relationships with hundreds of companies, Her speaking and book tour, Million Acts of Kindness, involved a 14,000 km tour in a 32-foot sponsored motorhome, hotels sponsored for the team, and more than 40 businesses and retail chains raising funds in their stores/businesses to support the Million Acts of Kindness movement.
About the Ghost Writer:
Susannah Scheller is the Technology Director and Engagement Curator for Grow Disrupt, and was the first permanent hire made by Stephanie! She has spent countless hours studying the world of business under Stephanie, and has over 5 years of experience in content creation and Technology Execution. Having recently completed her Bachelor of Music, she has begun devoting her focus to the creation of content that helps to support small business owners company growth the world over.