Picking targets, timing the application, making the case, and highlighting information are the four best tips for filling out a sponsorship application. It is important to know successful ways to attract a sponsor's attention because many corporations have switched to a pre-designed application form rather than accept a narrative-based sponsorship proposal where the format is chosen by the applicant. The application is more restrictive than the proposal format, requesting only the bare basics and allowing little room for elaboration.
A corporation that uses a sponsorship application is signaling that it knows exactly the type of event or product it is looking to sponsor, and it only needs the basics of an opportunity to determine if there is a fit. One of the more important tips for filing out a sponsorship application is to strategically pick the target corporation by doing research and making a selection based on an alignment of need with a market. Although it can’t hurt to apply for a sponsorship where the likelihood of success is low, it does waste time. That time can be better spent romancing a corporation that has a strategic interest in the market the event or product is designed to tap.
Many corporations will accept sponsorship applications throughout the year, but others will have a specific acceptance timeframe. Sponsorships are unlike ordinary applications for grants and other lines of funding because decisions to sponsor are made on a rolling basis and not on a deadline. Corporations have a budget for sponsorship that can be spent from the start of the corporation’s fiscal year until it runs out. Another important tip is to find out when the target corporation’s fiscal year starts and complete the application as close to the beginning of that year as possible.
The sponsorship application will ask a series of questions about the product or event. Space will be limited, encouraging the applicant to focus on essential points. The best tip for completing this section is to focus on how the proposed partnership will benefit the corporation, not on how the sponsorship will benefit the event or product. Public goodwill is often an important by-product of sponsorship, but it is not the primary incentive. Corporations ultimately want opportunities to expand market share and increase visibility.
Sponsorship applications typically include a section for the applicant to indicate the expected impact or reach of the event or product and to outline the marketing and advertising strategy. This is the section that tells the corporation whether the sponsorship will have enough of an impact to be worth the investment. It is tempting to exaggerate, but the best advice is to stick to an accurate estimation of attendance and reach, or to underestimate if there is any uncertainty. There is nothing more detrimental to a sponsorship relationship than promising something that is not delivered.