Utilizing LinkedIn to connect & stay connected with sports sponsorship prospects.

We keep saying it…but it always holds true. Sponsorship prospecting is a 24/7/365 deal now. As Rich Franklin with the Winterhawks says “We’re always prospecting.”

But when the season gets started, things like fulfillment and activation keep things hectic in our work. Sometimes it feels like a job to stay prospecting during the season.

This week on The Inches podcast we dive into a few tactics on how you can easily stay connected with prospects during the off-season and season.

You can listen to the full episode HERE. But I dive into a few key points below.

First, prospecting is year-round in sponsorship.

I think it is key to start out here with the foundation that you should be prospecting throughout the year. During the season it is easy to get caught up in the activation side and forget to stay in touch with the prospects they spent so many hours connecting with.

Whether new leads or old, you should be looking to stay in touch with them all year.

As Rich points out, you never want to only go to your sponsor when you have something to sell.

The buyer journey has changed.

Another key here is the buyer journey has massively changed with the internet.

Buyers have so much information at their fingertips…they now control the buyer’s journey.

What does this mean for sponsorship?

Well, it means that the normal email and call push won’t work. They want to find your product and information on their own terms.

In order to keep them in our loop of sponsorship, we need to break conventional wisdom for how we connect with them.

Enter LinkedIn…or really any digital reach

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in sales today…but many utilize it wrongly toward sales in B2B.

This is mainly due to the above, the key to understanding how to utilize LinkedIn is to understand that buyers today don’t want, or need, a push toward your product. The days of hard push are over.

If you understand this, you understand that LinkedIn is a key tool for staying in touch with your prospects without a push.

Keeping your prospects up to date with your assets & game day.

First, LinkedIn is not for connecting and sending an inbox immediately for a sales pitch.

I’ll say it again for the people in the back…

LinkedIn is not for connecting and sending an inbox immediately for a sales pitch.

They say sales and marketing people ruin everything…well they are starting to ruin it with the above tactic.

This tactic will get you minimal results.

BUT, if you look at it as a way to add value and document the assets you have…you’ll win.

Post your game day activations via image and video on your personal and company page.

On LinkedIn, the first step is to post how you are activating with the clients you do have.

If you have a military appreciation night…post a video about that. Explain the value and thank the client.

If you do a digital activation, post a video explaining that engagement and how you connect that partner with fans.

DO NOT POST A “IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN BEING A SPONSOR REACH OUT”.

That is a push…push on LinkedIn only has minimal and short-term effects. If you make it salesy…you lose.

You’ll want to post from your personal and company page. A few reasons why:

When someone buys from your team they are also buying from you as a person. By posting from your personal page, you are building a relationship with YOU as a person.

In the long term for your personal career, this is huge as you’ll have these relationships wherever you go. Think of it as a Rolodex.

People also buy from team brand power. With this, you’ll want to post as well to the company page.

Again the goal here is a pull, not a push. When you post your game experience you aren’t sending an email saying “Look what you’re missing”.

You’re posting a video that makes them think “Wow, that turned out really great….we should have bought.”

When you post how you are bringing value to other clients…you’ll win. Mainly because they get a feeling that they missed out on the activation.

You’d be amazed at how this changes the dynamic of your relationship with your prospect. no more chasing, they will start to come to you.

The LinkedIn power of the network.

Here’s why LinkedIn is so powerful, it has a built-in audience.

By that I mean it has business professionals you want to reach on it. No more writing a personal blog and paying for search ads so you come to the top.

For $0.00 you can reach almost whomever you want, and more.

The more part comes with a feature in LinkedIn that really puts gasoline to the fire.

When you post, people like your article, video, etc. who are in your network.

But when they like, comment, or interact with your article…it shows it to their entire network as well.

For every like you get, you get access to that person’s network.

If you have great content…you will have people in your target segment reaching out to you to connect.

And we have our pull.

The 2 most important items in this strategy: Message & Discipline.

For any digital campaign or strategy, there are two items that are universal to pushing change. Message & Discipline.

Message:

Focus on one message for your value. Are you the family option? The best community team?

What makes you stand out as a team in sponsorship value?

That is the message you stick with. Make sure it is simple and easy to digest.

You want to be the best option for your message in the country and all the content you push should somehow revolve around that.

This way when someone asks “why should we sponsor ‘your team’”…the answer is easy and clear…something like “Their experience for a minor league team is un-rivaled, not a huge reach…but man do fans engage with brands.”

This is the message you want to own. Otherwise, you are like all the others out there on LinkedIn.

Discipline:

This is where most go belly up on this strategy, they start posting, see minimal results in one post and quit because it doesn’t work.

This is where people win & lose. The winners don’t look at the results at first. They post to get feedback on content, tweak, and adjust.

But they ultimately keep posting.

Here is where the law of large numbers comes into effect. If you aren’t familiar with the law, it is what casinoes live on.

A casino doesn’t care if you win $10,000…because they live off the minimal returns of a large number of bets.

The odds are on their side, so they focus on scale, not individual loss.

The same holds true with your LinkedIn posts.

You may only get 1–2 likes on your article…hell you may get 0 likes for the first month.

The key is to keep posting. Obviously, adjust your content to make sure it is valuable and tweak it…but don’t look at likes.

Why? Well even if only one person likes your article, it shows that article to their entire audience.

This is why discipline is so important. Many will start on LinkedIn, see ‘no’ results and stop. This is where you win by being disciplined.

Overall you should be posting a video or image every day about the assets and value you are bringing sponsors.

Really, in the sports world…there is no excuse not to. It is as EASY as ever.

On game day take out your phone and record. That’s all it takes.

Post every day. No excuses.

Pull, not push

Overall, again, the way buyers get info has massively changed. LinkedIn is a key way to keep up with your sponsor prospects during the season and create that Pull effect.

If you implement this strategy, you will have competitors ask you “How are you growing so fast?”. It happens to us.

I would go out on a limb here and say this is more effective than cold calling or emailing (I go out on a limb here because for us it is).

There will be people who implement this and those who don’t…please dive in here and post on LinkedIn for your sales process.

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