December 9, 2008

Sponsorship 101, Part 3: The Proposal

I just spent a bit of time helping a friend who's interviewing for a sweet job in cable (ironic in light of yesterday's blog). After a successful first interview, she was given an assignment to write a proposal for a specific Hollywood film tie-in; so, we were chatting about her concept, which is great, and, more specifically, the actual deck (proposal). She happens to be fantastic at what she does, but I've discovered most people really don't know how to write a deck successfully and effectively. So, our convo inspired me to share 10 quick pointers I've learned along the way:

1. Clearly map out your pitch before you begin to write. Otherwise, you'll find yourself writing in circles. Trust me, I've done it too many times to count. Massive waste of time and effort.

2. Keep it short and sweet. As one friend once told me, "small words, big font". This isn't an essay for English class and your vocabulary is not being graded. Just relay your message as clearly and concisely as possible.

3. Bullet points are your friend; paragraphs are not. You should be able to boil each key idea into a simple bullet-pointed phrase. Remove all superfluous language and cut to the chase.

4. Identify your key point(s) of difference, highlight it/them with consistency and repetition. Basically, hammer it home and make it idiot-proof (Calixto's favorite phrase). For example, in our case, the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival is the #1 U.S. Latino film festival and the only one that speaks to the hip, Urban + Latino lifestyle. That's our fundamental selling proposition. Once you really understand what it is you're selling, you can articulate it. Remember: Be consistent, be repetitive.

5. Put the client opportunity on the first card after the title card. The rest of the proposal serves as support and details. These folks receive TONS of proposals. Don't be cute and tease them. Cut to the chase. If you don't, they may not read past page 2.

6. Understand the difference between goals, strategies and tactics. Goals are easiest to determine: what is the overarching objective of the client (i.e., drive sales, drive brand awareness, drive retail traffic, etc.)? Your mission is to understand the needs of that client and provide solutions to fulfill those needs. Differentiating between a strategy and a tactic can be a bit more challenging. A strategy is the general approach you employ to fulfill the goal, and tactics are the specific mechanisms to realize the strategy. For example, a strategy can be to discover and support emerging filmmakers; one tactic could be to conduct a filmmaker contest. So, basically, each level digs deeper into the thought process. There can be multiple strategies and multiple tactics, but they should all fulfill the goal(s). Be consistent, be repetitive.

7. Load the program with as many promotional layers as possible. Consider all potential media and touch-points (e.g., internet, events, contests/sweeps, grassroots/guerrilla, traditional media, 3rd party tie-ins, public relations, retail/employee incentives, cause-related overlays, etc.). Challenge yourself: how rich can you make this platform? In all likelihood, the client will cut much of it ($$$), but the more information you can provide upfront, the easier you make his/her decision.

8. Remember aesthetics: you don't have to employ a creative team, but make sure the presentation is professional, attractive and reflects the vibe and positioning of your opportunity and brand. Also, check your spelling and grammar!

9. Do your homework. Know your competitors and get the research to back up your statements. In my case, I have to show the buying power, growth potential and media consumption habits of my audience b/c access to that audience is a key selling point.

10. Be passionate.
Folks invest in people, not companies; it may be cliche, but it's true. Let that passion show through your proposal and all communication.

~ Liz

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