This is a guest post by Dave Huffman from The Indie Launch Pad. Also read Part 2.
Musicians- How To Get Sponsored (Part 1)
Catchy headline, huh?
Ok, so you have built a nice local following. You can pretty much sell out the mid to largest room in town. You either command a nice guarantee OR you do so well at the door that you fore-go the guarantee for the bigger payout.
Here's an answer for ya: Generate some more dollars in the form of sponsorship
I'm an artist Dave. I am beholden to no corporate sponsor.
Ok, but remember - if you have the eyeballs and the ears at your shows, you call the shots. You approach the sponsors YOU want at your shows.
And if you pick correctly, a lot of cool things can happen. Namely, some extra cash for a better produced show, extra promo materials, and some gear; which means more for your pocket after the show.
Here is a linear breakout of how you can do this:
1. Identify your hit list of local sponsors and start calling them.
Beer was always an easy target for me. I love beer and it was easy for me to talk about onstage because we were drinking it. Keeping with the example of beer: find the local distributor of the type of beer you'd prefer to have at your shows and call them to schedule a meeting.
Once you lock that in, find a non-alcoholic sponsor. Be creative. If Pepsi or Coke turn you down, go for something else like Milk. Also remember, Pepsi and Coke have sub-brands of energy drinks and things (beer distributors do as well). They'll most likely be handled by the same person, BUT it could change your pitch if you have a target market that is the same as theirs.
BEWARE: Some brands may have exclusive rights to certain venues. If you are searching for show sponsorship, check this out first. You may not be able to hang that Budweiser banner if that is the case.
Call on small businesses as well. If you can put together a value added package worth their while, they will sponsor you. Sure, it may only be $200 or so - but gather up five of those and you got yourself a nice little deal there.
We locked in close to $1,000 from a local car dealership with a package and a personal testimony that told the story of how we toured for a year in the type of car they sold. In another example, we locked in sponsorship from a Monster Truck team. Sure, sounds nutty – but it was for our outdoor festival and they were just looking for placement.
You’ll learn as you go regarding what you think fits and what doesn’t.
2. Put together a Package
Everyone has their own sales techniques. What always worked for me was having a "partnership" mock-up package available to present while letting the business know that I could customize the terms specific to what was attractive to that particular business.
Here is what a package could include:
- Heading with band logo and logo of business you are pitching to at top
- Summary of what you are asking for (sponsorship for show, tour, festival, etc.)
- What you can do and plan to do for them
- Specified time period if there is one (Annual contract? one show?). This can also be moved to the top heading as "An Annual Partnership Between...." for example
- What the business is to provide (signage, product, money)
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What You Can Do For Them
The normal things in this area are signage at the show, logo on flyers/handbills, logo with click through on website, stage mentions, and personal mention in email blast/social media pages.
Here is a tip though: The more value you can add to the package the more money you can ask for.
1. Can you edit video? Make a video for the business with a goal for it to be "sticky" enough to go viral. If you are proposing an annual deal - propose that you'll generate one of these per month. That alone could be worth $5,000 or more depending on how you sell it. Remember: You are a storyteller, you have the ability to put together a little skit. Online content in general can be a great sell. Pictures of concert attendees using the product that you can post on your site and share with the business are great as well.
2. Write a jingle. If you have no shame, this is a GREAT way to add value and dollars to a package. By "no shame" I mean some people hate doing this. If you don't mind...DO IT.
3. Add Incentives. This goes without saying, meaning you NEED to have these in a package so I do not really feel they add attractiveness. However, lack of them will make you look like a Jack-O. These include extra tickets for the buyer, VIP seating, etc.
4. An Exclusive Performance. I wouldn’t suggest this because I think it kind of eats up some of the money up in expenses, but if you do it right it is a super easy sell. Pitch to the business that you will play one of their corporate events. Put this in the package. Again, be very specific about your terms. Performance should be contingent on band schedule, business should provide gas money, etc.
Not good at selling? No excuse. I'm the worst salesman on the face of the planet. In fact, every sales job I have ever applied for I have been turned down for. My personality inventory scores even suggest that I am a horrible salesman.
If you believe in what you are selling (i.e. your shows/music) you WILL be able to sell it to a business. I promise you.
You have plenty of experience booking shows by now. Treat the chase of sponsorship the same way. Call the business, get the name of the person responsible for buying, and then begin the deluge of follow up.
Be courteous, BE REAL, do not overestimate your following, and ADD VALUE to the relationship as much as possible.
Again, I'm an artist Dave. I'm not selling out.
Ok, well you shouldn't be reading this blog then. If you want to work for yourself, call the shots for yourself, then you are going to have to run your own business. If you are going to run your own business, then you will have to maximize dollars in every corner available.
If you have a lot of eyeballs at your shows, that is one of your “corners.”
Oh and one last thing: You better make sure you actually like the product you are endorsing. Nothing will ruin your reputation and get dollars pulled faster than drinking a Miller Lite when Bud is your sponsor.
In part 2, I will illustrate some more of these “corners.” I will also give you some ideas of who you can approach for sponsorship, what to ask for, what "trade" is and why you might want to consider it from time to time, and we will build a package together.
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