How NOT to Solicit a Sponsorship

Earlier today, I received a sponsorship solicitation email, which in itself is not unusual. I get all sorts of different requests and proposals through the site. However, there were some things about this particular email I felt should be addressed in a post. First, take a look at the edited version of the email below – all identifying content has been removed (substitute content in CAPS) to protect the innocent:

Date:        Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at ##:##
Subject:  SPORT Sponsorship Opportunity


My name is REP NAME, and I am a TITLE of a sports agency located in CITY called COMPANY-HAME-HERE ( I am writing this email on behalf of our affiliate agency, OTHER-COMPANY-NAME ( I noticed you are in a sports related business, so I wanted to offer a sponsorship opportunity. We represent numerous ATHLETES. THIS SPORT is the fastest growing sport across the world. We are offering you the opportunity to sponsor these ATHLETES.  Sponsorships include your logo on ITEM 1, ITEM 2 and ITEMS 3 AND 4. Please see the attached Power Point for more details.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please contact me via email at EMAIL-ADDRESS or cell phone at PHONE #. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.



So, what problems did you notice? Here are just a few that immediately jump off the page:

  1. “Hello,” is not an acceptable greeting. The person sending this didn’t even take the time to type in my first and/or last name. If they have my email address and are sending this to me, they better know my name.
  2. Look at the email header. The “From” and “To” address were the same, meaning that I was BCC’d (blind carbon copied). That tells me this same exact email was sent to who knows how many people at the same time. Not exactly a personalized sales pitch. And if you can’t take the time to write me a personalized email, what does that say about how I matter as a prospect, let alone an actual client?
  3. No where in the entire email is there any reference to my company name or what we do, other than being a “sports related business.” If you have no idea who I work for or what I do, and how can you demonstrate a fit with your property and how will you generate any interest?
  4. The sender is rattling off inventory option in the very first email sent. Before you start to discuss any sponsorship details, you need to assess what value you can provide for the sponsoring company, and then tailor your package accordingly. Just sticking my logo on different things does not provide value.
  5. We know this sport is “fast growing,” but that doesn’t mean anything without context or fit. This sport may be growing exponentially, but if your property doesn’t reach my target audience, that size and growth is useless.
  6. This particular person isn’t just representing their own agency, but a larger affiliate agency as well. Now any problems with this approach reflect poorly on both organizations.
  7. The attached Powerpoint file (not shared here) was actually pretty good and had some nice data in it (albeit not personalized at all). However, the odds of someone opening the attachment from this email are minimal at best.

For the record, I replied back to the sender. He seemed very apologetic for the mistakes and interested in learning what he can do better next time, so I am writing this post as a tip for him and anyone else out there trying to drum up business. What other problems do you see in this approach and what tips can you share with other readers?

15 thoughts on “How NOT to Solicit a Sponsorship

  • July 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    If s/he’s going to do a mass mailing, s/he could have at least used a mail merge. It’s an easy way to personalize. That wouldn’t make up for the many other faults, of course, but it would be an improvement.

  • July 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    “Fastest growing sport across the world” is a sure sign of trouble. I’ve seen way too many sports brand themselves that and they only end up being beach soccer or something else minute and insignificant in the grand scheme of sports.

  • July 27, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I have to wonder if this is a problem for one person at the organization who didn’t get a lot of training or if this is an organization (or two) that has been incredibly misguided in their sales strategies.

    Call me a pessimist too, but do you think the guy was really looking for input, or just trying to keep the conversation going, as salespeople are taught to do?

  • July 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Tom – I think this is an individual tactic problem and not an organizational problem. The 2nd agency is very professional and is probably unaware of this individual’s approach. The desk, which was built by the affiliate agency, was very professional and thorough.

    And it’s possible that he just wants to keep the conversation going, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s interested in improving his approach as well. If he doesn’t, he’s not going to do very well, so it’s in his own best interest.

  • July 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I am new to the business myself and this is a great post. Thank you for your tips and input. I look forward to reading more!

  • July 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm


    Good post. There is no excuse for lazy selling habits, but it’s also smart to take into consideration that one of the biggest challenges sponsorship salesppl face is finding a way to personalize a tailored sales approach while maximizing the time and cost-efficiency of prospecting efforts at such an early sales stage. We did a survey on this topic a few weeks back, which offered a pretty startling perspective on this subject. I’ll share with you the results when we publish them.

  • July 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Too funny. I received this email too. My first impression was that it was written by a recent college grad who was being thrown into their first sales gig without the supervision of someone more experienced.

  • July 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I received the same email too. I actually considered replying with all of the same comments you’ve outlined above. Then I realized they might find it an open invitation to contact me again.

    Everything being said is spot on. When considering a sponsorship for my client, act like you know what the brand does and how your property can contribute to business objectives. And you’re right—I never opened the PPT

  • July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Great post Russell,
    There is no excuse for lack of customisation. to me, it’s a red flag for any future cooperation. Lazyness, lack of consideration, waste of (your) time etc…

    He/she would have spent 10mn researching your name, your company and would have written a 5-8 line pitch, he/she would have done his/her job.
    Now although the apologetic reply, would you want to work with him/her in the future?

  • July 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Thank you to everyone for all the great comments. This is clearly a topic that people have some strong opinions and perspective on!

  • March 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm


    After reading this post I immediately knew what the sport was that you were being contacted in regard to, mixed martial arts, is that a safe assumption?

  • May 13, 2011 at 1:20 am

    HA… wink, wink huh. Im new to sponsorship sales (currently for sporting events) and no, I didn’t write this, but I too am in the MMA industry. Though I’ve been in the industry for several years, sponsorship sales isn’t something Im well versed in. Unfortunately, because the rapid growth of the sport, promoters spring up all over the country and with that come inexperienced & ignorant people. They mistake rapid growth for easy growth and therefore send mass emails fully believing quantity over quality is the right approach.

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  • March 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you for the tips. I am new to this kind of thing, actually. And although I personalize most of my emails, and only reach out to companies that we would be a good match for, I didn’t always go the distance to get the actual name of an individual. I guess it is worth pushing through for. Since my organization is a non-profit, I need all the great sponsors I can get!

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