Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monetize Your Site With Sponsorship Deals

Have you thought about getting a sponsor or co-branding partner to help promote your product or service, and earn a few bucks while you're at it? The big guys do it alllll the time. I was watching the show GossipGirl tonight and checked out their website. They have deals with Sunsilk, Verizon, Old Navy, Second Life, Vogue and Rolling Stones magazines.

With tons of new sites and blogs being created by the nanosecond, getting a sponsor may be a one way to monetize your "digital assets". Even if you already sell your own products and services on your website, having an established brand buy ad space will give you more credibility. And yes, you can get Google AdSense pretty easily but unless you have humongous traffic, it won't pay. Cutting a deal directly with an advertiser can be much more lucrative. Think you don't have enough page views? Think again. One thousand unique visitors may not sound like much but there may be advertisers out there that are interested in even that small number of "eyeballs".

This is a topic I'm very interested in so I attended a workshop recently at the NY Women's Chamber of Commerce on how to get sponsors and brought back a few good tips:

There are two types of sponsorships:
1- grants from foundations or city, state and federal agencies, and
2-corporate money

Of the two, corporate dollars are easier to get a hold of. Start by inquiring at your target company's community relations division or their public relations office. If they don't have such a thing then keep asking until you get to the right person. And you don't have to stray too far away from your "hood" - look for businesses near you. For an event I was organizing last week I went after The Container Store located a few blocks away from my venue. Unfortunately they never got back to me, but now I know where to go and I'll try them again for another event in the future.

Sponsors have deadlines and they usually run out of money by June, some, like American Express Open, even as early as April. You'll be competing with others for the same sponsorship dollars so start early in the year. Build a relationship - invite them to your functions, take them out to lunch, send them information about what you do, take pictures of the event and send them copies. Keep them involved in the process. Find ways to always be on their mind. Research and see what kind of events they like to sponsor. For example, banks are now big on financial literacy.

Pick sponsors that fit in with your business. The closer you are aligned with their goals, the better chance you'll have of hooking up with them. Tell them about the demographics of the people attending your event or visiting your website. How many people do you expect at your event? How much traffic do you get? These are things they'll want to know.

Give them different sponsorship levels to choose from, and tell them specifically what they'll get. Like the "Gold Sponsor" will get their logo on your fliers and website, but a "Platinum Sponsor" will get that plus time to do a presentation, or be introduced to the audience, and will allow them to distribute marketing materials at their own table.

Corporations also have foundations (it's a tax break for them) for specific causes they sponsor. Foundations only give grants but they're very easy to apply to.

Set up advisory boards and court people that work in organizations you'd like to get money from. Another idea is to attach yourself to a non-profit organization and ask them to be a partner of your event (think of all the companies that have the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness!). Corporations like it when you do this. It's like a "Good Housekeeping seal of approval".

It's like you have to think of yourself as the head of a media business, and do what they do to make money.

Do you have any good/bad experiences with sponsors? Please share!

1 comment:

Katie said...

I love reading your blog. You always have such great articles and interesting ideas! It's time for another post, I'm going through Mogulette withdrawl! Please!

Looking forward to another post soon,

-Your Fan