Whether your band is planning a tour or releasing new music, chances are it’s not going to be cheap. Brand sponsorship allows artists to do what they do best without worrying about the capital it will take to do so. Here are 9 steps to take when approaching a brand for sponsorship.
1. Begin with a budget
To speak intelligently about your project, know what you need and what you need it for. Create an itemized budget of equipment, studio time, travel expenses, lodging expenses, etc. The more details you know about your band’s financials, the more convincing you will be to a sponsor.
2. Understand your fans
Pushing a brand or product on the wrong people is equal parts ineffective and embarrassing. Yes, that alcohol sponsor has money to give, but if your fans are all under 21, what reward will the brand reap from a partnership?
Scour your social following. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have built-in analytics. With a goldmine of data in your pocket, the guesswork of determining your audience’s demographics, interests and reach is eradicated.
Pay attention to other artists your fans are following. Check out their feeds for recent partnerships, sponsorships and endorsements to get a clearer picture of what brands are resonating with your shared fanbase.
The brands you reach out to have a target audience, too. Do some research to see where they overlap.
3. Understand the brand
Partnerships are about shared gain. In order to understand what is profitable for the brand, investigate their target audience, as well. Do some research into their past partnerships and the “vibe” they put off.
More formally referred to as “brand essence”, a brand’s personality clues you in to their ideal candidates for sponsorship. Understanding a brand’s personality will enable you to paint a more vivid picture about why your two entities should work together.
Ethical alignment is also important. If a brand promotes veganism and you aren’t one, it may be hard for them to support you, from an ethical standpoint. Strong religious, political and social stances held by a brand reflects on you and vice versa. Once you think you’ve chosen a brand, dig a little deeper to find any hidden conflicts of interest.
4. Understand your value
Take time to assess what your band brings to the table. Do you have a large social following? Do you have connections to a local art scene? Are you willing to speak at seminars or engagements?
Paid promotion through Instagram and Facebook can be a great place to start if your following is comparable or outweighs your sponsor’s. Even if it isn’t, sponsoring you may reach a segment of their target audience they have trouble reaching. On any scale, brands are generally willing to offer you money to act as an influencer* for their target audience.
*For brands that may not understand this concept, explain it as “an ad that doesn’t look or feel like an ad but is in front of the right people.”
Here are a few more valuable sponsorship ideas:
● Appearing in brand’s ad campaign
● Connections to digital or print media
● Upcoming photo/press shoots/interviews
● Product placement on social media
● Product placement in music videos, interviews, photoshoots
● Build on past music festival sponsorship
● Branded state signage
Whichever tactic you choose to use, make sure you the value of your influence is pitted against other forms of advertising or sponsorees.
5. Be In The Right Places
You can reach out to a lot of people directly via LinkedIn. You need to look for people who handle marketing, and endorsements within the company by reviewing their profile. If there isn’t a system in place in a midsized company, go for the marketing and PR departments. If you’re looking to a smaller company, go straight for the top. Also you will want to check their website to see if they already have a process in place for sponsorships before proceeding.
Also another option for getting attention is by adding yourself to different market places and networks, where brands look for talent for different marketing and bookings. For example, Celebrity Endorsers is a marketplace where brands look for data on talents previous endorsements and their interests. Revfluence is a marketplace for influencers that brands use to find specific people to endorse their products. Booking Agent Info is used by brands to get the contact information for influencers and musicians to contact for endorsements and bookings.
6. Be a salesperson, nail the pitch
First, it’s 2017 and the phone scares most people. Stick with email if you can. Secondly, you are there to sell, so be a salesperson and consider these three things.
Be aware of a brand’s weather at the time. If the company is going through a major acquisition, PR fiasco, or event and tension is likely high, wait until the skies have cleared before approaching your contact.
More specifically, consider the time of month, week and day. It’s not a science yet, but prime email times are something to consider. Monday at 9 a.m. on the last day of the month, probably isn’t the best time. Neither is St. Patrick’s Day (or the day after). Choose a neutral time on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to fire away. Tuesday has been found to be the most productive day of the work week.
Exude confidence in your writing. Don’t use words like “maybe” or “think.” Don’t ask, just tell. Tell the company what they need to hear. End your email with something to the effect of “We look forward to speaking further about our partnership.” Write like you’re already expecting an answer.
Be specific, but not too verbose. Details can be worked out by phone or in person. Use short, complete sentences to describe what you want, what you’re offering in return and shared benefits.
Your pitch should be specific to each brand. Don’t use a template. Your selling an idea, so don’t use someone else’s. Here are some sample points you may use.
● Brief mention of recent work or applicable recent sponsorships by [brand]
● Overarching sponsorship concept
What you want
● Desired end result for sponsee (e.g. record album, tour 50 U.S. cities)
● Desired end result for sponsor (e.g. customer growth, social media growth)
What you have to offer
● Simple tactics to achieve aforementioned goals (e.g. garner X new customers through [tactic])
● Demographic and interests of your fanbase (found in Step 2)
● Upcoming publicity gigs
● How brand and band align
● How you’ll represent/give a face to the brand
7. Seal the deal
Ideally, you nailed the pitch and have the opportunity to speak with key characters in person or by phone. Begin by building a relationship through genuine interest in a company’s current goals, initiatives and challenges.
Use your newfound revelations about the brand to fuel your presentation. Use words and visuals that refer back to the brand’s goals and target audiences. If you’re going to be on their turf, make them feel special. Music has a way of hitting people in the feels—who says a small, private lunchtime acoustic set is out of the question?
Don’t get discouraged if the brand asks you to refine your pitch. Often it needs to be approved by upper level fund management. They just want to make sure all foreseeable questions are answered.
8. Follow up
Thank you is an underestimated phrase. Thanking your contact for their time and consideration is not only polite, it’s revered. Make sure to say thank you.
Refine your pitch to include new information from your initial meeting and remember to focus on the goal of the brand, not your own. Create a clear, easy-to-follow proposal that includes goals, strategies, tactics and pricing.
During your proposal’s consideration, make sure to answer questions thoroughly and promptly to expedite the process. When an offer is presented, don’t be afraid to negotiate varying deliverables and money. Maintain focus on the value you’re adding to the brand.
Don’t commit to a final contract without an agent or manager to review the terms and an attorney to look at the legal side.
8. Keep your word
Congratulations on landing your sponsorship! Make sure you’re fulfilling your half of the bargain. Here are some tips for maintaining and growing your relationship with the brand.
● Fulfill all deliverables
● Over deliver (your sponsor will recognize the extra effort)
● Answer questions during sponsorship promptly and thoroughly
● Send consistent (not annoying) updates to your sponsors including numbers and inquire about results on their end
● Build from current sponsorship agreement success into longer or new contracts
Successful brand sponsorships are secured through targeted research, direct selling, sharing benefits and maintaining relationships. Like any business skill, they take practice. Pitch. Rinse. Repeat.