What is it about big corporate sponsors that they don't get that the hard sell just doesn't work any more and that they'd win over more customers if they just gave useful information instead of the sales pitch on how wonderful they are? Really.
I've recently attended a couple of conferences which were heavily sponsored, but, and it is a big but, there was a price to be paid for that sponsorship. Each company wanted its moment in the sun, which is only fair, but its rays should shine on the audience and provide value rather than just a sales pitch. Boring the audience does not win people over, nor does it create positive memories of the company.
I tell you there is a niche market out there for a company to go in and educate these corporations on how to win over their potential customers, particularly women, because from my perspective, they are truly missing the boat. Yes, it has to be a win-win situation but sometimes the corporations don't realize the hefty price tag they are paying by making it all about them.
The sales pitch on how wonderful they are just doesn't cut it. No, I would prefer some valuable information that is helpful to me as a woman or as a small business owner, not the rhetoric on how my business or life will be truly enhanced by buying their product or service.
So here's my tips to corporate sponsors:
• First, thank you for getting behind the organization you are sponsoring, we're truly grateful, but build on that relationship instead of killing it dead with oversell.
• Provide information that is truly helpful to the audience instead of "strutting your stuff."
• Build relationships. People do business with businesses that fit with their values and that they trust.
• Give back. Supporting favourite causes will help people see you in a different light.
• "Loot" goes a long way, we like to get free stuff.
• Send staff who want to be there, who will listen, participate and want to hear what has to be said and you will start to form meaningful relationships with your target audience.
• Be authentic, genuine and real. Our radar is strong and we can quickly cuss out the real deal, so don't try to fake it.
• Train your staff in public speaking so they come across as professional, relaxed and informed, not stuttering at the podium struggling to complete a sentence.
• Cash is king.
• Provide speakers who are informed and can share their expertise with the audience.
• Lend your space for events and offer your marketing expertise to help spread the word of the event you are sponsoring.
As someone who is always looking for sponsors for my events, I realize my comments may negate some real deals happening, but on the other hand, I am just practicing what I preach -- I am being authentic, genuine and honest.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Citigroup donated a total of $121,910,534 in cash in 2011 -- $4.1 million of which comprised grants to Junior Achievement, which spreads financial and entrepreneurial knowledge to youth in over 50 countries.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, General Electric Company gave $144,100,000 in cash and $1,900,000 in products in 2011 -- notably including $17.5 million in grants to support 72 health clinics in areas that lack sufficient medical services.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Target Corporation donated $12 million to improve school libraries nationwide, and $1.5 million in grants to promote reading at libraries that it has supported in the past. Its 2011 donations totaled $146,119,380 in cash, and $63,155,311 in products.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that JPMorgan Chase & Company donated $202,961,667 in cash and $70,473,269 in material gifts in 2011. $10 million was directed toward fixing the problem of poverty in New York via the Robin Hood Foundation, and $50 million in grants supported nonprofits that promote education for the poor.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bank of America gave $208,425,075 in cash donations -- $100 million of which it committed to lowering carbon emissions as part of their 10-year, $50 billion, plan to support the environment. Additionally, it raised $3.5 million when they matched customer donations to local food banks and pantries.
Chevron Corporation spread its efforts across the board, as The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports $1.75 million in donations to Project Lead the Way, which spreads engineering programs to middle and high schools nationwide, and $8 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Its generosity totalled $209,280,000 in cash donations. CORRECTION: Chevron's donation to Project Lead The Way was originally reported to be $17.5 million, instead of $1.75 million.
Totaling $213,481,849 in cash donations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Wells Fargo & Company committed itself to providing access to housing in low-income communities. In 2011, it gave $3.4 million to Opportunity Finance Network, which works to make banking services accessible to these communities.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, ExxonMobil Corporation's charitable cash donations in 2011 totalled $232,658,037, with an additional $2,007,943 in products. Notably, it directed $27 million of these efforts toward supporting the National Science and Math Initiative, which is dedicated to helping AP Training and Incentive and UTeach programs.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Goldman Sachs Group donated $337,077,886 in cash -- just about $19 million of which can be attributed to individual employees, as the group promises to match up to $20,000 for each employee's donations annually.
Donating a total of $342,350,438 in cash and $616,591,031 in products in 2011, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Wal-Mart demonstrated a big time commitment to supporting antihunger groups, to which it donated $60 million in money and 338 million pounds of food, and jobs and education for veterans, to which it committed $20 million over the next five years.
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