Whatever projections we made a year ago for our 2020 sponsorship programs were probably wrong. Associations, not-for-profit organizations, and sponsor companies have all had their plans turned upside down by the pandemic.
Associations are finding that the pandemic has created new member needs, whether members are struggling or seeing growth opportunities ... or both. Similarly, some sponsor companies are struggling due to the pandemic while other companies are positioned to grow ... or both.
This “we’re all in this together” scenario creates the prospect of new collaborations between organizations and sponsors as all entities seek to fulfill their goals for 2021.
For associations facing new challenges and new member demands, sponsors can be a source of revenue and solution-focused content for members.
For companies that want to create new opportunities for business growth and positioning as a problem-solver, alignment with associations can be the solution.
However, expanding an organization’s sponsorship program involves more than mass distribution of a prospectus for Gold/Silver/Bronze event sponsorships and putting the sponsors’ logos and banner ads on signage and websites.
Companies have choices when they select which organizations they sponsor. Some companies are maintaining their total sponsorship spend, however, they are reducing the number of associations they sponsor.
Companies are seeking sponsorships that offer business value; provide brand positioning; demonstrate the company’s knowledge and expertise; provide value for longer than a several-day event, and provide measurable results. (Check out the Grow Sponsorship Revenue During Pandemic Times webinar to learn more about providing organizations with valuable corporate sponsorships.)
Associations and not-for-profit organizations can begin to reframe their corporate sponsorship and partnership programs for 2021:
Be sure the program aligns with the organization’s mission.
Align sponsorships with members’ needs.
Align sponsorships with each sponsor’s business needs and marketing goals.
Shift sponsor benefits from standard logo placements to customized benefits featuring the company’s expertise.
Leverage the association’s website to present landing pages for top-tier sponsors with white papers, videos, and other content from sponsors that fulfill members’ needs.
Price sponsorships based on each sponsor’s ROI because companies are making business decisions about which association to sponsor.
Measure and report each sponsor’s success, including website positioning, marketing data, and analytics.
Provide service to sponsors like a marketing agency account exec.
The year 2021 will be a year of corporate partnership program resets. This is an opportunity for associations and not-for-profit organizations to maximize the value of their sponsorship and partnership programs to increase revenue and help members.
Bruce Rosenthal is a consultant, adviser, and educator who helps associations and not-for-profit organizations increase revenue and member value from their sponsorship programs. He is Co-Convener of the Partnership Professionals Network.