Thursday, August 17, 2006

Managing Sponsorships

For some amount of money a law firm can buy attention by sponsoring an industry or community event. For every level of cash invested comes promotional benefits for the firm. I happen to believe that unless a firm buys at the highest levels of sponsorship the rewards do not return a benefit. That said, I have also found that there are things I require of an event/organization that makes my sponsorship valuable:

  • Sponsorship has to include participation in an event (leadership) committee by myself or a partner of my firm. I’ve found that too often, without biased focus, events lose enthusiasm for their original goal and morph into something less productive for me.
  • Association directors (leaders of the events I sponsor) need to hear my expectations unvarnished. Without clear guidance they will be led astray by lesser sponsors working to accomplish their own specific goals.
  • It is the responsibility of the organization (the organization I paid sponsorship dollars to) to deliver on the event. I can lend my resources, mailing lists, contacts, etc., to assist, but ultimately the organization must be able to deliver. My help should be a benefit, not a necessity.
  • I need to have constant access to event progress. Teleconferences, meetings, email reports, etc. Not only to monitor how things are coming along but also to be able to speak intelligently with my partners when they ask.
  • The organization has to have the event as their most important priority. When organizations have too many competing priorities; I lose.
  • The org/association has a strong identity within the targeted community of attendees. Startup efforts can be fun and adventurous but the goal of my cash investment is maximum return of potential clients; not aid to help build a new audience for an associations membership rosters.
  • Equally strong sponsor members of the event committee to build strong referral relationships
Everytime I step up with firm cash I have a large number of partners watching my every move. They want the security of knowing, or feeling, that I am watching out for their best interests. While I might be a bit tough on event directors I've found that in the end everyone gets the best result.