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Stakeholder Engagement: Changing Your Sponsorship Affinity Program Offerings

Magnet Attracting
Associations today offer current and potential sponsors the opportunity to showcase themselves to a niche market of contacts.  These members (or, potential buyers in your sponsor’s view) are highly targeted and qualified contacts – sponsors can demonstrate products, offer special packages, and be “front and center” by communicating with them in the manner that they choose in an environment that they are comfortable in.

Associations should consider this an advantage, however; more often than not sponsor packages are put together in a “boxed lunch” fashion, and consideration for the sponsor and what they are looking to get out of this opportunity (their ROI) is not taken into account.

With budget cutbacks everywhere and many more organizations competing for the same amount of sponsor dollars, an association offering customized solutions would really stand out from the crowd.  Those within the marketing department of their association will have to be creative going forward in putting together a strategic plan for retaining and engaging new sponsors.

What steps can your organization take to attract and retain relevant sponsors for your members?

Assess the Profession:  As an organization that is considered an industry expert, review the profession and the needs of those in the profession - determine which companies and what product(s) would make the lives of your member base more efficient daily.

Get feedback:  What is it that your members need (or, are looking for that would make their lives easier)?  Ask them.  Prepare a quick membership survey, asking them for feedback on current sponsors (and their product offerings) to determine if what you currently have is the best match.  Then ask them what would make their lives (professional or personal) easier and find like-minded organizations to come on as sponsors.

Review at your current sponsors/affinity partners:  Once your feedback is compiled and has been assessed, have a look at your current sponsors – are they still a fit?

Ask your sponsors what they need:  Is there anything that your association could be doing to showcase your sponsors better to your members?  Determine the reason(s) they are partnering with you, and find out how this could be enhanced.  Come up with the solution that makes sense for them.

Seek out the right partners:  Determine who would be the best fit for your association and your members.  Source out a list and create a stakeholder engagement program to draw attention to your organization, and provide them with material that backs up this claim.  Keep nurturing them, as they may not sign up right away, but keeping your organization in the spotlight could make the difference in their decision to partner with you in the future.

Have a success story to share?  Tell us why your sponsors partner with you, and what you do to keep them engaged with your membership and your association!