The Value of Transitioning from Sponsorship to Partnership Programs
By Dan Kowitz and Bruce Rosenthal
Associations have had very successful sponsorship programs for many years. The cornerstones of many of these programs have been logo placements, advertisements, visibility, and recognition.
However, the inclinations of companies are changing when it comes to their affiliations with associations. Companies are no longer almost automatically sponsoring associations whose members comprise their customers and prospective customers.
Companies are seeking business value, marketing value, and ROI in their relationships with associations. Companies are more interested in partnerships than sponsorships.
What, you might ask, are the differences between corporate sponsorship and corporate partnership programs and what is the value to your association?
- Changing from transactional sponsorships to transformational partnerships results in greater alignment with the association’s mission.
- Changing from a sponsorship program for many companies to a partnership program with a select few companies results in a program that is easier to manage and of greater value for each partner.
- Changing from a Gold/Silver/Bronze program with a long list of benefits to a short list of value-based benefits results in much higher value for partners (and higher partner fees).
- Changing from “one-size-fits-all” sponsor benefits to customized partner benefits helps with recruiting and renewing partners due to fulfillment of each partner’s needs.
- Changing from selling “commodities” in a sponsorship program to selling “solutions” in a partnership program results higher value for corporate partners (and higher partner fees).
- Changing from offering dozens of “logo placement” conference sponsorships to offering a limited number of customized conference opportunities to corporate partners results in less logo clutter and greater exclusivity for partners.
- Changing from making assumptions about the business needs of sponsors to asking each partner about their business needs results in targeted benefits for each partner.
- Changing from sending a sponsorship prospectus èn masse to companies to reaching out to a targeted list of companies results in finding better partners.
- Changing from a sponsorship Order Form to customized proposals for each prospect company results in greater value for the association and its partners.
- Changing from multiple departments in the association selling sponsorships to single point of contact results in less internal competition and less frustration among sponsor/partner companies.
- Changing from one or two staff providing sponsorship benefits to many staff (and board members) providing partnership benefits results in more engagement and higher value for partners.
To increase revenue and member value from your association’s relationships with companies, consider restructuring your corporate sponsorship program as a corporate partnership program.
Dan Kowitz and Bruce Rosenthal are Co-Conveners of the Partnership Professionals Network.
The Partnership Professionals Network, in partnership with Association Forum, is offering two programs: An Idea Exchange on “The Pros and Cons of Having Corporate Partners” on Jan. 15, 2020, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. and a training program “Corporate Partnership Accelerator Series: Turn Up the Volume of Your Partnership Revenue” on Feb. 12, 2020, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Both events will be held at Association Forum. Learn more.