Ahhhh a lively conversation about those who come to your work place asking you to “sponsor” or “support” their cause. Perhaps asking for product donations, money, and your time. Basically asking for a sponsorship, financial support and we all live happily ever after. I am not talking about the young child who comes to my door asking to buy cookies, or wrapping paper for school or event funding, there is much grace for this tike putting themselves on my porch and asking. I speak of the grown ups who know nothing about your business, do not support your business and then get a little red face and flustered when they are not supported. Let’s talk. Can we talk about this?
There is a grander scope of supporting and sponsoring events. My company and those companies I have worked with have done so in efforts to grow their own business. There are times and places. Last year I worked with a wine company and convinced them they they had to support a big fashion event. I knew who would be present, I knew the needs of the event, and I knew that this would help get their brand in front of key supporters who would help move the message of their wine and open up new markets resulting in sales. That today is still being played out well for this wine company as they have deepened and concentrated more efforts in that story as well as building relationships. There is a time and a place when “exposure” is important. Building your brand and business does take putting yourself out there and if done well, to the right markets, will produce exposure and ultimately sales or your end goals. In the same band of thinking, a clothing company, “Sweet Cottons”, I worked for was trying to get their foot in the door of “Vogue Bambini”. My suggestion was to “sponsor” and support one of their runway events. Not only did they get a place for sponsorship, their brand landed on the runway, as relationships and trust were built mutually. Relationships in business build the confidence, the support and the mutually beneficial placement of both brand placement, events, and support.
What about those who come to your business asking you for support of their passions, non-profits, events and on and on? For the past two months I started asking questions to strangers who came to me for support. After saying, “no” to a number of requests and seeing the discomfort of the asker I started asking questions. Here are the two questions I asked?
1. How often have you come into my business?
2. Have we met before?
I was not surprised when both questions resulted in a firm, “never” and “no”. Basically, no I have never supported, shopped, or hired you out as a consultant. And a, “No we have not ever met.” In my own little community of The Dalles, OR I know many of the shop owners. I support as best as I can, when asked of me to support their cause I often do. Why, “cause” I know them. However getting that email, that FB request, that face to face request from a stranger is getting harder and harder to support and really I do not support strangers. Why? If you are not supporting my efforts I might not be as quick to support yours. We do live in a give and take world. If all that is being done is taking, pretty soon there is a stop to my giving. Your promise of “exposure” is not going to pay for my next cup of coffee. If there is not vested interest in the relationship, that track goes stale really fast.
I love the unspoken support that happens on Social Media. I love when my friends send me a message asking if I will share or support them. I am happy to. Even if I have nothing to take back. It does not always have to be reciprocal. I just love supporting those who I am in community and relationships with. Going back to the Vogue Bambini approach. I did not go to them and ask if we could just land a place on the runway. Do you know how many fashion designers would die for a look down that runway? My approach was to ask how we can help them. Giving something, that would cost money from my client, an investment in that relationship. I pitched an idea that they loved, and soon a relationship was born. Give and take baby!!!
What are you giving back to the companies or individuals who support you? Maybe these are your loyal customers. I recently had a customer of mine come to me and ask for support one of her projects. Honestly it was not the project I was supporting. I wrote that check to support her passions. I have worked alongside Young Life, which is where I give lots of my moo-lala. I have offered both my time as a volunteer and financial support. In years past this organization realized that it could not just take take take it all.
They set up committees to not only give back but to build relationships with those who donated time, resources and money. Long before social media hit our fingertips, this organization understood the value of relationships. Now over 30 years later, Young Life is still in that “happily ever after” state of support from me.
Building a commitment of support starts with building relationships. Supporting the efforts, projects, business’s of those you invite to be supporting you. It really is to To Sponsor, Support and Live Happily Ever After in business.