Good Ideas Find Money

dollar signBy now salespeople should know sponsors are looking for ideas and not just inventory.  However, coming up with ideas is not always easy.  I see a lot of proposals these days and they often leave me feeling disappointed, frustrated and uninspired.  Ninety percent of them look like this; your logo here, logo there, sign, booth, print ad, banners and tickets.  Some might include “the right to conduct a sweepstakes or consumer promotion”.  Most include some basic demos and attendance numbers, but it’s amazing how many do not.

Sponsors are looking for ways to connect the property with their brand, on how to activate and how to best utilize the assets to meet objectives.  More importantly, good ideas find money.  So where are these ideas going to come from? Fortunately, we don’t have to be Steve Jobs or a marketing guru to be creative.  As with all sponsorships, it starts with understanding the sponsor’s brand and objectives.  Here are some tips to help to get the ideas flowing.

Brainstorming meetings

Even the most creative people need help from time to time.  Schedule regular meetings once a week or every other week with your co-workers to brainstorm together.  Take the last 20 minutes of your sales meetings, if need be.  If you are not the manager, then take the initiative to organize this on your own.  Invite people from other departments to get different perspectives. This will provide a wider variety of opinions while also allowing coworkers to be part of the process and become vested in the outcome.  This may help when you have to go to Operations or PR to support a sponsor’s activation.  Select a couple of different prospects or renewals to focus on each time.  Start with objectives and then let the brainstorming begin.  Like any skill, repetition and consistency will result in better ability.

Imitate to innovate

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Compliments aside, seeing what others are doing can be a great way to stimulate ideas for your sponsors or prospects.  Most things are a variation of something done before.  There is nothing wrong with seeing a good idea, then customizing it for your property and sponsor.   Therefore, we need to look outside our bubble to see what’s out there.  Observe other teams, sports, events, markets and categories.  The Sports Business Journal is great, but there are other resources with a wealth of marketing ideas.  Most of which can be followed on Twitter or easily accessed on-line.  MediaPost, Ad Age, Hashtag Sports Daily, Mashable, eMarketer and Forbes to name a few.  Network with your counterparts at other teams in and outside of your market.  Most people are happy to share their successes knowing you are willing to reciprocate down the road.

Intent to be creative 

Van GoghWhile attending a marketing conference last year I heard Ron Rogowski, the VP of Global Brand and Sponsorships for UPS state “It’s not the actual idea that matters most, it’s the intent to be creative.  The specific idea will come.”  Artists, writers, singers and inventors rarely get it exactly right on the first try.  Most great ideas require some tweaking.  All you need is a spark to capture the sponsor’s attention and show you are not just trying to move inventory.  Ideally, they will begin to collaborate with you and become part of the creative process.  If you are really good, they will take ownership of the idea and think it’s their own.