In today's unpredictable economy, it's not just the major labels that are having a hard time selling records and filling concert venues. Most independent/unsigned artists struggle to get rid of the boxes of shrink-wrapped CD's stashed in their basement/garage/spare room, and most of their tours make very little money.
Many artists acknowledge that the main problem standing in the way of success is a general lack of funds. At the same time, many businesses are beginning to discover that consumers are becoming harder to reach using traditional advertising/marketing techniques. An often overlooked solution to the problem is sponsorship. Sponsorships can provide a win-win situation for all involved - a way for businesses to reach consumers more effectively utilizing integrated marketing; and an avenue for musicians to acquire funding for their tours and/or projects.
Most companies, however, are very selective and savvy when it comes to spending sponsorship dollars, and treat sponsorship more like partnerships than philanthropy.
Following are 10 ways you can make your project more attractive to sponsors and separate yourself from others seeking sponsorships:
1. Be able to clearly identify your audience, their loyalty level and buying habits - apart from buying your music/merchandise and attending your shows (e.g., the highest percentage of your audience members are 34-55 year old females that buy health products; 16-25 year olds that participate in sports events; 40-60 year olds that like to travel etc.).
2. Identify the benefits, properties and/or rights you own as well as how to package and market them to the potential sponsor (e.g. copyrights, patents, trademarks, service marks, merchandise, logos, mailing list, talent, event, image etc.). Know which benefits will be most useful to the sponsor and keep your fees reasonable.
3. Be clear about the type of image you project. Sponsors will associate with projects that fit with the image they are trying to establish and cater to the demographic they are trying to reach.
4. Know something about the company(s) you wish to partner with. Know what their sales/marketing goals and challenges are as well as what they have sponsored previously.
5. Create/Produce a project that is appealing to the media. Companies prefer projects that can attract TV coverage, especially if their logos and/or products can show up in the broadcast.
6. Be open to bundling your project with other companies/individuals that have more clout than you if you don't have enough marketing power or media attraction on your own. Keep in mind, however, that you must also limit the number of companies that you attach to the event/project. Conflicts (and conflicts of interest) will occur when sponsors compete or don't match well with other co-sponsors.
7. Enable and help your sponsor to measure the benefits that you are offering. Your project won't attract sponsors unless the sponsors can generate measurable business returns from their sponsorship investments. For example, if 50 people that attend your concerts also purchase products from one of the sponsoring companies using coupons handed out at the concert, that result can be measured and credited to the sponsorship campaign.
8. A project/event that has the potential to be long term or spread to different markets will be more attractive to sponsors than a one-time event taking place in a single location. In other words, a tour covering several cities, regions, or countries is more attractive to a sponsor than a show occurring once in only one city.
9. Prove that you will deliver the benefits and follow-through promised to the sponsor. Whoever is administering/organizing/managing your project should have their "house in order". In the same way that sponsors sometimes fail to pay the fee promised to a project - project owners often fall short on their end of the bargain.
10. Be willing and able to tie your product(s) into the sponsor's existing promotional campaign. If you feel queasy about creatively integrating a sponsor's logo(s) and product(s) into your show/tour, then you will have a hard time attracting sponsors.
These are just 10 ways you can make your project more attractive to sponsors. Acquiring sponsorship is a time-consuming and complicated process and most people will require assistance in one form or another. In the end, however, the effort is well worth it for all parties involved if structured correctly.