A sponsorship agency is a company that specializes in matching marketing and promotional opportunities with corporate sponsors. This type of agency is typically retained by the individual or event looking for sponsorship, but can also be engaged on the corporate side to identify opportunities that meet a particular goal or objective. Although sponsorship is available to individuals and events at every level, agency representation is usually reserved for famous athletes, entertainers, and marquee events that require extensive management of sponsorship sales, renewals, and return on investment at a high dollar value.
Sponsorship is a marketing tool that matches a public opportunity to a corporate need for affiliation. In most instances, corporations will provide money or resources to an event or individual, and in exchange receive the right to brand an opportunity with the corporation’s name. Opportunities come in many different types, including naming rights to new buildings on college campuses, affiliations with events, or partnerships with famous people who will endorse a corporation’s product exclusively. Anyone can broker a sponsorship deal, but at the highest levels with the most famous opportunities, a sponsorship agency can be hired to handle the process.
Relationship management is paramount in obtaining and retaining sponsorships. The process of wooing a corporate sponsor can take years, and, once the sponsor signs on to an opportunity, it is usually for a finite length of time under a renewable contract. It takes constant management of the corporation’s return on investment to ensure that a corporate sponsor renews its obligation year after year. A sponsorship agency is often best equipped to handle this type of management because most agencies have established a system that matches corporations to opportunities and monitors results so both parties to the sponsorship remain happy with the relationship.
The type of opportunity that is appropriate for agency representation typically has a national or international profile. For example, a famous golfer might be represented by a sponsorship agency to obtain appropriate affiliations while competing and to manage the relationships as he moves forward in his career. An athlete’s agent might handle the initial sponsorship arrangements while the athlete is little known, but as the athlete reaches the upper echelons of his sport or there are multiple corporations competing for endorsement, dedicated sponsorship management can become necessary. Likewise, staff might handle the sponsorship of a special event for the first few years as it grows, but once it reaches a certain level of prominence, sponsorship engagement might be transferred to an agency.