I got the text late in the afternoon
I immediately reached out to the President of the company, the Marketing Head of the company and I didn't get a response to my texts or phone calls. These folks had been my friends for a few years and had supplied lots of support to my career and endeavors. We had texted and talked over the phone many times in the past. Now: Silence.
I had an event coming up and there was still two months left in the year of support they had promised me. It was a Friday and I had to scramble to set up next week's event, people were counting on me so I had to push out the empty feeling aside.
Writing this email is like therapy. Thanks for reading so far.
I focused on the next event, and worked on finding a replacement sponsor. Made a list of possible sponsors, tightened up my pitch, organized my proposals and got back to work.
It's been years now since that time, and I never heard back from the company and the people I knew. I did get a run around answer from someone in the company who was in charge of firing people. I didn't work for them, so why this guy? Maybe he lost the bet on who was going to tell me, plus he worked in a branch of the company that was out of state so it was easier for him to email me some nonsense. I honestly can't say what happened.
The reason I am telling you about it, besides the therapy, is to share what happened afterward.
My first step was to reach out to other companies for collaboration and support. I will tell you some tips on reaching out to sponsors, but the point is that by losing this sponsor i was then motivated to reach out to more opportunities and got more sponsors than I before.
First tip: make a list of companies you would like to see sponsor you. Not just the art stores, but the Art Companies, Printers, and even Venues. Venues are great sponsors as some are open to collaboration in their events. I have organized events with venues who provide their space as a sponsorship. Anyone who has something to support your path can be a sponsor. Make a List.
Second: Look up these companies and find out what projects they are working in that involve art and creativity. See what that company is doing that may be a fit for you. Some companies have marketing budgets for specific marketing events, those companies may not be open to new proposals, but they may be open to working with you within their current projects. Branding Fit.
Third: Find people you know who may work in that company. This is where Facebook and especially LinkedIn come in handy. Do you have a connection who works at a company you want to sponsor you? Those folks will help you get to the person responsible for the budget. Those folks you know will be your champions in getting your proposal approved. And if all else fails, those folks will help you get something from the company to support your event! Connections.
Fourth: Have a social media presence for that which you want sponsorship. And a website. What goes on that website and social media? The proof of the work you have put into your endeavor and career. When you make you pitch or submit a proposal, the first thing that the other person will do is look you up, look up your brand and look for evidence of your claims. It's extremely tough to get a sponsor for a first time thing. Sponsors like to invest in people that have a following, Sponsors will invest on events that will give them a chance to promote their brand and reach the people who are potential customers. Online Proof.
Fifth: Organize your information in a clean package. That's what we call a proposal. The Who, What, When, Where and Why of what you're about, what you are doing and what you are asking for. Have an ask. What do you want? Be specific. Money, supplies, printing, venue, materials, what is it that the specific company can provide you with? Some sponsors will supply materials. Give them a list of the materials, the name of each piece, the retail price and the overall cost of what you are asking for.
You must do all the thinking up front. When you reach out to a sponsor you have to present all the information in a way that is easy to understand. They don't know you, their only responsibility is to say Yes or No. Organize all your info in a way that they will have to say Yes!
Or at least get a: "We want to hear more about this." kind of response.
Thats your way in! Now you can share more info to drive home the need to have you on their corner and how collaboration (sponsorship) is perfect.
Artists are notorious for doing a lot with very little. Start your events small. Collaborate with others to split the needs. As you grow your events, then you will have the proof of your concept and can start reaching out to sponsors.
But you have to start somewhere!
It was years of putting on my events when I first got important people coming to see what I was doing. Then they reached out to me and invited me to participate in their bigger events.
One More, The Biggie:
Wait, by then I had reached out to an artist who puts on Big Events, International sponsor type of Big Events. And I asked that artist for feedback on my events. He opened the gates to his brain and shared his wisdom with me. I have applied that advice to how I organize my events now. Why wouldn't I? This dude knows his stuff. He knows what he's talking about and I want to get to his level. Mentorship.
I invite him to lunch and a cup of tea (he doesn't drink coffee) when I want to ask him specific info. I am available when he calls (anytime he calls he has something to share that will improve on what I am doing). Plus I make myself useful and offer my assistance for his plans.
Mentorship and Sponsorship is a two-way street.
Don't cold email or call someone for advice or sponsorship without having built a relationship and having a history of putting in work!
I was in a conformable space when I lost my sponsor and it put me in a bind. I had responsibilities and I had made promises that now I had to face without the sponsor.
I used that opportunity as motivation to branch out my sponsorship reach. I had to take a look at my work and organize the info, put together new proposals, build new relationships and keep putting in the work!
Sponsors come and go. Thats not the only time I lost a sponsor. Some sponsors move on, some sponsorships are for a short period of time, some sponsorships are a one time deal.
In every case, you have to be open to putting in work to build those relationships.
DTM - Technologist, Solutionist, CreativeGenius, Curator
PS. I have been teaching Adobe Illustrator for several years now and as I scale back my in person classes, I am taking the opportunity to launch online classes.
This is an example of putting in to practice the advice I get from my mentors and the lessons I learn from building relationships.
We are launching May 25th with a Live Broadcast over Facebook, YouTube and Periscope. Join the Email list to learn more and submit your Art, Design and Vector questions to our professional panel!
Check out the video below and visit: www.vectormaestros.com