Writing your first proposal? Here’s some great tips to get you started!

07 Nov Writing your first proposal? Here’s some great tips to get you started!

Time to put pen to paper… turn your ideas into reality!

I absolutely love creating sponsorship proposals. Sad but true! I actually really enjoy putting them together and crafting a suite of documents that not only read well, look fantastic but are also strategic, convincing and effective communication tools.

At the start of the sponsorship engagement process we look at what our needs as athletes are. For some this can be quite confronting because they realise just how big the shortfall is between what their anticipated income without sponsorship is and what the cost is of living out their athletic dreams! But then, through the sponsor identification process, we begin to see how we may already be connected with potential sponsors and then that there are other sponsors who we identify is being well matched to us and our goals.

Then, the exciting bit happens when we look at what we might be able to offer sponsors in return and we realise that we already have so much to offer and that we’re willing to work at providing our sponsors with really great return on their investments. We see opportunities within opportunities and what seemed like an unachievable sponsorship goal is now very much beginning to look like a very possible outcome.

With this excitement, momentum and positivity we embark on producing our sponsorship documents.

It’s crucial to keep in mind three things when you are writing the proposal, and in fact these three things can be applied to everything you write because they will help you achieve the intended outcome of any form of written communication:

Less is More: Keep it succinct, keep it clear, keep it simple……the fewer words you use the more the potential sponsor is likely to read. If an organisation receives a document of 30 pages there is no way they will read any of it properly they just won’t have the time or interest, but if you send them a 2 page super slick document that looks good and clearly tells them what they need to know then chances are they will read a good portion of it, if not the entire document! Keep the layout clean and uncluttered, feel free to use some pictures and make it enjoyable and easy for them to read.

It’s ALL about them: OK, so you will have information about your athletic achievements and goals, but keep that short. It’s all about the sponsor so keep reminding them what’s in it for them, how are you focussed on their needs, and how they are going to benefit from sponsoring you. Make it clear that you understand their values and goals, and you should know all this from the research you’ve done and conversation(s) you’ve already had with them.

Be Honest: Be sincere, be excited about your goals, tell them how incredible it will be to have them as your sponsor (and why!), but do not promise them anything you cannot deliver on. Do not promise that you will represent them at the Olympics if you haven’t ever run a race, but if your GOAL is to get to the Olympics then by all means share this vision with them. Also be very careful about offering benefits such as media coverage that you have not yet secured! Honesty is the basis of any good relationship and your sponsorship relationships must start with this fundamental element in tact!

Here are some other great tips for writing your proposal:

  • Be yourself don’t try to be something you’re not.
  • Don’t be formal, write how you speak, and use active language.
  • Keep it clear, concise, and most importantly, keep it honest. Don’t promise the world if you know you can’t deliver.
  • Write it and edit it, get a couple of other people to review it, and make sure it makes sense.
  • Your goal is to get them to read the whole document, as quickly and easily as possible
  • Use great photos! If you’re a beach volleyballer a great close up of your face covered in sand and a big cheesy grin is great; it shows your sense of humour and character, and when placed next to another photo of you leaping above the net to spike the ball then it tells the whole story.
  • Write a generic proposal and then tailor it to each key potential sponsor

There are many ways to submit a sponsorship proposal, but electronic (PDF) is the preference of most sponsorship managers as they can do what they want with it; read it on screen, print it or share it with their management team.

A printed proposal looks fantastic if it’s done professionally, otherwise it can just look cheap and old fashioned. Make sure that once you’ve written and crafted all of the content that you get someone who is a creative guru to create the final design for you!

“A video proposal can be effective, but once again I strongly recommend the engagement of some-one who can make it look really good!”

Just think about how you would react if you were a sponsorship manager reviewing hundreds of proposals each year, your natural tendency would be to read (or watch) the proposals that look more professional, not just because they are more visually pleasing but they reflect the effort and professionalism of the athlete.

Time to get creating….

We’re about to launch our 8 Weeks To Sponsorship Challenge where we will work with you to create your personal brand and sponsorship strategy and actually create your proposal: CLICK HERE to register your interest and we’ll send you an information pack!

Vickie Saunders

Vickie is the world's leading expert on commercial relationships for individuals, businesses and sports organisations.