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Are you a small, independent news site or a news entrepreneur seeking to connect with your local bank or hospital for sponsorship? If so, keep the four P's in mind when developing relationships with sponsors.

The goal of a sponsorship is to build financial support for your organization. And sponsors may be seeking a marketing or community engagement platform, but the first rule in developing that relationship should be to conduct a complete needs assessment. Think about the last time you visited an online car shopping portal or a car salesperson. You likely were asked questions about your needs, so the best car could be matched with you. Realtors and other sales people use the same approaches. Sponsorship sales are customized and asking questions — as a journalist would for a story — is how you get to the heart of the problem that your solution will solve. For longevity, which is our goal, we must understand the prospect’s/client’s needs today and tomorrow. That will help you determine what are the needs and whether you can provide a worthy solution.

Getting ready for the needs assessment conversation requires research about the target, but also a deep understanding of your organization, platform or product’s value. What are you bringing to the table and how will it solve the prospect/client’s needs? What sponsorships has the client already done? What sponsorships have its competitors done? In an assessment, you should listen more than you talk.

Remember this is your chance to learn the needs, not be a pushy salesperson. You want to be respectful, attentive and state your value proposition before leaving, but the goal is to get a follow-up meeting. Because of how many decision makers are often involved with sponsorship buys, it’s unlikely you will be able to sell it on your first visit.

Your needs analysis will help you obtain plenty of the information you'll need for the next critical step: defining the four P's. This information will help you understand what a client really needs, how that solution should be packaged and promoted. You’ll also find out what price a client expects and what their expectation is for sponsorship placement credit.

Associate Professor Ebony Reed is teaching a session on the four P's of sponsorship sales at the Institute for Nonprofit News conference in Orlando, Florida, from June 13–14. She is a former news and sales executive and a member of the faculty at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Ebony Reed  
 
Director of Innovation and the RJI Futures Lab



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