Join Jason Hartman as he interviews Shannon Cherry, The Power Publicist, about the best practices to get companies to sponsor small business owners, coaches, consultants, and non-profit leaders who want to reach a certain target demographic. Listen at: http://SpeakingofWealth.com/category/podcast/. Shannon founded the Sponsorship Made Simple Academy and has been helping organizations secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorships for more than 15 years. As the Power Publicist, Shannon Cherry, APR, MA, helps business owners and entrepreneurs attract more customers through publicity and marketing. She is the founder and president of Cherry Communications and its subsidiaries, Be Heard Solutions and Penny Pinching Publicity.
A former TV and newspaper journalist, Shannon has developed hundreds of innovative public relations strategies. Her clients have appeared on the pages of USA Today, the New York Times, Money Magazine, Associated Press, and Parenting and have been featured on the Today Show, CNN, The History Channel, Good Morning America, and Oprah. An award-winning publicist and published author of two books, Shannon was named one of the top 60 business bloggers in the world & one of the top 30 PR bloggers. Shannon publishes the popular and highly-recommended ezine, Be Heard!, delivered to more than 6500 subscribers each month.
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Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Shannon Cherry to the show. She is an expert on attracting sponsorships and if you want to raise money for unpaid engagements or paid events that you are doing, whichever way you wanted to go, sponsorships can be a very valuable thing obviously and I think you will really want to hear this interview to learn how to attract sponsorships for your engagements and your events. Shannon, welcome.
Shannon: Thank you for having me.
Jason Hartman: My pleasure. Tell us what types of sponsorships speakers and various event promoters should be considering and then let’s kind of drill down into how they achieve that and make them all happen?
Shannon: Absolutely. Now, there is really four types of sponsorships that a business owner or a speaker can go after. So, the first one is events that you are creating yourself or holding yourself and these could be live events which were ultimately was as well as the virtual events like public summit or even online workshops whatever you call them. Another one is you can actually attend another event that somebody else has created either as a speaker or you know, you are a blogger or if you even want to hold your own event, of course you can do that and speak. So, that is one way.
The other thing is to underwrite a continual marketing program such as an easy in our blog if anyone is marketing themselves using these kinds of things whether it is speaker or a business owner, you can often get underwritten for that as well. And the other one is to underwrite the cost of other promotional programs like the book or speaking tour.
Jason Hartman: Excellent. What does this mean to someone that is wanting to attract the sponsorship, I mean, I assume that when you talk about sponsorships, the money aspect can be all over the board, right?
Shannon: Right. There is two kinds of – maybe we should take a step back and know that there is actually two kinds of sponsorships at least the way a company look at it. The first is cash, we all know about this and [laughter] the second is called in-kind or what is known in the sponsorship business as fast dollars and these are things that services a product you might need that you are getting for free. For example, if you use a laptop in your travels and you also use it for your PowerPoints presentations as the speaker, you probably could get underwritten by a computer company to give you a laptop and maybe even an LCD projector so you don’t have to pay those expenses out, right.
Jason Hartman: Excellent. Now, what will the sponsoring entity get in return? I mean, are you going to agree to put their logo on your PowerPoint, say their name, what types of things do you give in return?
Shannon: Well, that is a great question and the key, the real key to getting a sponsorship is that every business is different, every company like your company, like any company is a little different. So, what they want may differ based on what their needs are, but there is one thing in common. They want to reach the target market that you are reaching. So, the more you are able to show them how you are going to help them reach that target market, the better the chances you have in getting a sponsor.
Jason Hartman: When you talk about this, what is really coming to my mind is the world of professional sports, car racing [laughter] kind of stuff because you see uniforms that are either replete with logos, the cars are replete with logos, of course the field is replete with logos, [laughter] and I guess what you are, maybe you are saying is that speakers and various business people of all types should really model their business after this to some extent, right?
Shannon: It is. I mean, we know that people in sports should get sponsorships. That’s a business. That is how they earn their living, I mean, Tiger Woods for example, we all know he had sponsors within the past, and those sponsors know that he attracts a certain audience so that for them that’s a business deal. So, looking at that as a business deal is the real thing and is the way to go about this. This is not with the the hands out; this is a business transaction. So, when you start modeling what sports people have done for years because they are just reaching a specific target market, the more likely your approach if you are doing it similarly will help you earn that company’s dollars.
Jason Hartman: And from the speaker’s side of the business as a platform speaker, I guess we are not to the point where speakers are wearing baseball caps with logos or putting logos on their suits, right? [laughter]
Shannon: Well, you know, some people do. Well, I have done it before as a speaker and I know some of my students have as well actually created T-shirts that they wore not on stage but other times during an event they have like, you know, I am sponsored by someone so that they are, [laughter] they are yes, they are sort of wearing it in some ways, but you can also be very unique and come up with other ways even though you might not do it on stage, you might have them in your PowerPoints, you might be able to leave a story about them, you also might be able to, you know, you are not going to share their names, but say Dell or if that was a computer company who is your sponsor, you know, that is interested in your in your opinions on something, would you mind certainly up this this form, I mean, ways to get pulled them into your target market. They also give a lot of good giveaways to give to your audience, which is often and you don’t have to pay that x cents. One of my sponsors actually creates fortune cookies and customized fortune cookies, so we – and then in a speaking event I actually hand out their fortune cookies with their logo and name on it and everyone is like, “Wow! This is a great idea.” And they think about it as a strategy for their business to hand out as a gift or do whatever with.
Jason Hartman: You know what was really intrigued me about what you just said and I am not sure I understood it correct, but are you saying that the speakers from the platform can basically do surveys for the sponsor almost like a sort of a miniature idea of a focus group, is that…
Jason Hartman: That’s interesting.
Shannon: Absolutely. It’s – what you have to do is make sure though that that’s what your potential sponsor wants. So, having a conversation with them way before you actually propose a sponsorship is the best way to go because you are going to find out what their needs are.
Jason Hartman: Are there any particular businesses on both sides of the equation or where certain types of businesses or companies that are particularly receptive to sponsorship opportunities and then particular speakers or event promoters on the other side that get the sponsorship? Is there a particular sort of few different vertical areas here or niches or types of businesses that really just it is really workable and it’s easy, it’s not an upheaval battle in trying to get them?
Shannon: The thing is sponsorship marketing is in its infancy. So, actually it is a clear playing field except of course if you are in sports [laughter], but it really is the sky is the limit, the key here is I always say, “Start with the low-hanging fruit.” if you are a business owner and does business with certain company and they want to reach your target market as well, you should be tapping them first. That simple. And that is the easiest way to get a “Yes.” So, for example, let’s say you get your business cards printed somewhere, asking them to sponsor you by printing something else perhaps in kind for a presentation or other things, that is a great way to start that sponsorship relationship with someone you already know and you can actually ask them for it.
Jason Hartman: And maybe you will get free printing or free business cards at least out of it, right? [laughter]
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Now, what should someone expect, I mean, give us some idea if you would as to the money here? I mean, what are you offering them versus why you are charging them? I think a lot of speakers listening want to do this, it is certainly just a great way of thinking about new revenue opportunities and new promotional opportunities, but they wouldn’t know what to ask for necessarily when they try to call on a sponsor?
Shannon: And that is the key goes back to one thing as I said, doing your homework before you approach them. First, making sure that you have a good match with the target market, knowing that they want to reach that target market and here is my little trick to find out. If you watch the business news channels and all, no matter what one you are into, if you are watching one of them, look at the advertisers. If you are a business to business person or a small business person or whatever you do as a speaker, if you are a motivational speaker, watch the Oprah Network. Look at who is advertising because they want to reach the same target market you are already reaching. That is number one. And once you find that out, then making sure it is a good fit by finding out what they want from your target audience, what does they want to get from them? Is it their names? I mean, obviously it is illegal to just share their [laughter] name and phone number and so forth, that is sort of against the [unintelligible 10:58], but what else could you give them to get access to their group? And then once you do that, find out how much that would cost you to do that. And I always say then add 20% to 50% depending on what it is because you always forget the work [laughter] involved in doing what you promised them. Essentially, you have to look at yourself as an outsource marketing department to the specific target market at the specific events.
Jason Hartman: Very interesting. And if someone is looking for a sponsorship and they are calling on say with a small business it is easy if you are looking for small business sponsor, but with the larger company, what department do you try to reach, is it sort of the marketing department or…?
Shannon: Yup. [laughter] You actually hit the nail on the head is most people like a company like FedEx which by the way does a lot of sponsorships for businesses tends to have their own sponsorship department, but I would avoid any place that has a sponsorship department that I will go, because the money comes from marketing and if can get the marketers the [unintelligible 12:02] they are more likely to say, ”Yes.”
Jason Hartman: Very interesting. So, the sponsorship departments then aren’t the place you want to go, you want to be in the general marketing department then, huh?
Shannon: Exactly, because basically you are offering outsource marketing services. So, if they are interested in reaching a specific target audience, you are more likely to strike the deal with them than going through a sponsorship department, which is also dealing with all the non-profit sponsorships you maybe doing as well as they are just so used to so many people asking that they say now most people aren’t because sponsorship marketing is in infancy that they cannot – they are not used to people going this through and you can actually directly ask the marketers who may have in their budget to do something for instance.
Jason Hartman: Sure, sure. What you said was really telling their this kind of sponsorship market is really in its infancy. How did you get involved in it? I mean, you are really a trendsetter it seems like that you would even think of this, I mean, there must have been something that inspired it, right?
Shannon: Well, I started my career like Wal Mart started, but in the middle of my [laughter] career before at this time, I am not ghetto get. [laughter] I created the largest charitable mine auction in New York State and as a result of that I had to learn sponsorship inside out, up and down, every which way and I kind of did very – I did very well, got multi – made multimillion dollars in one night with sponsorships. But then I went back into my own business and put that on the shelf for a little while, but then I created an event that I do every year and sponsors started coming to me because they wanted to tap that audience and I realized that if I can have one or two people say, “I want to tap this audience and I will pay you for the privilege of doing that”, I should be talking to other businesses who would be interested in doing that and this year for this event I have already secured $36,000 in sponsorships, net dollars so, and not accounting the in-kind stuff. So, it sort of gradually went on, it is on course once I realized the opportunity and then this year I just started really focusing on to getting not just one or two sponsors but sponsoring almost every aspect of my business. So far since in six weeks I have done $20,000 worth of sponsorship for myself alone.
Jason Hartman: And do you have – that’s fantastic. Do you do other revenue streams as well or you strictly sort of a sponsored person? [laughter]
Shannon: [Laughter] Well, I think it is – I am not just a sponsored person actually. I – my company is a public relation company, so I do – I have done public relations for several years on my own PR firm, and then I also do some internet marketing and professional speaking. So, the combination of the three kind of put me right where I needed to be to understand the sponsorship process.
Jason Hartman: Well, that is really fantastic. Can you talk a little bit about just for a moment about some of the myths surrounding the sponsorship world and why it might be keeping people from asking for sponsorships and getting sponsorships in their business?
Shannon: Well, one we sort of touched on already which is that you need to be this Tiger Woods or another big name to get sponsors and that is really not the case because sponsors are looking for people at all levels to promote their products and their brands because they want to reach a particular target market one that you might have so that that is really important. Another one is that there aren’t that many sponsorship opportunities out there and that we sort of just kind of talked about these two that if you go to the sponsorship department that maybe, but if you go to the marketing department that is a whole different thing. And believe it or not, there are 17 billion and that’s billion with a B offered this year 2011 alone in sponsorship money and in-kind.
Jason Hartman: Amazing. [laughter] Well, that’s a big market. I mean, I hope when you said that, Shannon, everybody listening, their ears really perked up because there are some big numbers out there and again it doesn’t require being some big famous person. There are little, tiny markets and when I say tiny, I mean, hundreds of people type of markets rather than millions of people type of markets that the sponsors are interested in, right?
Shannon: Yes and even though smaller businesses want to sponsor, there is a study that showed in 2009 that 57% of businesses with a 100 employees or more were increasing their sponsorships despite lowering profits.
Jason Hartman: Very interesting.
Shannon: So, there is a lot of opportunity out there.
Jason Hartman: So, what are some of the mistakes that people make when doing this, I mean, I suppose there are some legal aspects we need to think about, I mean, contracts and so forth, how do they get set up there and what mistakes should they really make sure they avoid?
Shannon: Absolutely, there is a lot, I mean, contracts are one thing and knowing the laws of what the Federal Government requires, you to claim on your taxes is one aspect of it, so you don’t forget if you get a sponsor you have to claim them on your taxes, you know, even if it is an in-kind service, believe me that’s one.
Another one is what is called Proposal Saturation and that means when someone sends a proposal to any and every company, because that is a big no-nos, as a matter of fact when I was starting my PR firm business one of the things I did for a company called Minolta was evaluate photography sponsors. Minolta would sponsor two or three photographers every year so that our competitor Canon and what would happen is, some photographers would send the same exact proposal to us in Minolta as they would to Canon and even though we were competitors, I talked to the person who is responsible for this all of the time and we would always compare notes because first of all, we didn’t want to award the sponsorships to the same people and second of all, we kind of like to make [laughter] fun of them, I mean to be honest, because the things that went wrong and it was the people we made fun of the most and the people who definitely got in the rejection pile were the people who sent the same proposal to the Minolta people and to the Canon people so blasting the same proposal and that’s why going back and finding out what each individual corporation wants before even start a proposal is probably the best way to go.
Jason Hartman: So personalization rather than mass market in other words?
Jason Hartman: Good point.
Shannon: Right. And of course from the other part of that is lack of research. I mean, that is another mistake when people don’t do their research before and that is just going to make you fail right there.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, good point. How many sponsors might someone have? I mean, say it is a professional speaker, are they going to have three sponsors that sponsors sort of different aspects of their business or more or less or just one?
Shannon: It depends on – it really depends on what they are looking for. I say, “Get as many as you can.” [laughter]
Jason Hartman: Yeah. [laughter] Good point.
Shannon: I mean, why not? Because just because say you do get a company that is a computer company that gives you – that sponsors you for laptops and LCD, that doesn’t mean you love only the printer, that also doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like money from an airline or you need a video taping service. I mean, there are so many ways to use sponsorship in a really effective way. Why don’t yourselves? Now, again that goes with the whole, you know, the assumption of logo place, oh! My gosh, on my suit jacket I am going to have 50 logos on it. You don’t need that because every proposal is different and every sponsor is different, what you are offering now is going to be different, so you don’t have to say, “Hey, we are going to put your logo on every – on my, you know, suit [laughter] jacket.” You know, because it is not going to happen that way.
Jason Hartman: Very good point. Well, what else would you like people to know about the sponsorship world? I mean, this is really fascinating. I think that people listening have probably not been thinking about this and you in coming on the show today have just added some nice potential income or nice potential products in terms of the in-kind sponsorships that you talked about, which is really sort of a border arrangement, two people’s lives and this is just a not thought about revenue stream I think for most people, is it?
Shannon: Right, right. And hopefully we are going to make it one that people know about more and more and people can do this on their own absolutely, absolutely no problem. I have given you the tips today to be able to go out and do it. Just do the research beforehand, make a connection and build the relationship and then the proposal. I mean, that’s the basics, but if you want to get there faster, I do have a class of Sponsorship Made Simple and that is sponsorshipmadesimple.com where I take you through the entire process with the project you are working on to get sponsors. So, it is not just, you know, I am going to teach you something in this imaginary world. We are going to get you a sponsor during the class, usually three quarters of the people who would attend the academy get a sponsor within the – by the end of the class.
Jason Hartman: That’s fantastic now. What is the format of your class? Is that a live in person thing? Is it webinar? What is it?
Shannon: It is webinar based, so every class is recorded as well so if you can’t make one that’s fine. We will also do one-on-one challenging sessions with me. So, before you even get to the class, I will help you find the right project to get funded and teach you how to find the right projects to get funded. We also look at other base like the low-hanging fruit that I talked about. I help you analyze your low-hanging fruit so you can immediately get your return on investment for the program and then I review sponsorship proposal for one-on-one at the end.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Well, that is a great offer and where can people find out more? Give out your website.
Shannon: Sure. It is sponsorshipmadesimple.com.
Jason Hartman: Sponsorshipmadesimple.com, excellent, excellent advice and insights today, Shannon. Thank you so much for joining us. That was Shannon Cherry at sponsorshipmadesimple.com and we really appreciate having you on the show, Shannon.
Shannon: Thanks for having me.
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The Speaking of Wealth Show
Transcribed by: Renee’