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Steve DeLay's picture

Don't be afraid to charge what you believe your sponsorship is worth

"I thought she was going to laugh us out of her office."

That's what one team exec told me when they presented a Founding Sponsor Partnership to a prospective sponsor. The reason he thought that was because the price on the sponsorship was more than double the largest sponsorship the team had ever sold before.

Just two weeks before, I had spent two days with this team helping them craft a Founding Partnership package that truly delivered a huge impact to their sponsor prospects.

The package did all of the following:

  1. Helped drive fans of the team to the sponsor's business through a killer traffic driving promotion.
  2. Created ways for the sponsor to reward and recognize employees who had gone above and beyond and delivered exceptional service to customers.
  3. Established a community program that helped increase awareness for a charitable program that was near and dear to the company's heart.
  4. Created exclusivity for the sponsor so their biggest competitor couldn't nudge their way in and dramatically lessen the impact of their sponsorship purchase.


When we created the package, I asked each person in the room (there were 8 people) to write down on a piece of paper what they felt they could sell the sponsorship for. The suggestions ranged for 1.5x what their largest sponsorship had been to date, all the way up to four times the previous price. With some encouragement, the team's staff settled on a price that was a huge jump from what was in their comfort zone.

With some trepidation, they went out and made the sales pitch.

The prospect laughed.

She laughed and said, "So wait a minute. Let me get this straight. I get all this, and you're going to drive how many estimated people to our stores? For this price? You could have charged me 50% more and I would still think it was a great deal."

The two team execs making the sales call kicked each other under the table. Four times their largest previous deal would have been better.

The team is a few minor approvals away from a new sponsor that's twice as big as any deal they've ever had before. And, we set up their inventory so they could sell seven of these Founding Partnerships.


They are off to the races with the confidence to charge dramatically more than they ever thought possible because they are now selling sponsorships that are truly helping their sponsors accomplish their goals.

They no longer are littering their ballpark and concourse with hundreds of unnoticeable fence or concourse signs and distributing a program with 1/4 and 1/8 page ads, just to collect money from anyone who wanted to give them some.

Yep, they are going to chase a lot of those small sponsors away. That's okay. The race is won by generating the most revenue over the long-term, not by how many sponsors you have this year.

Next month, we'll walk through a step by step process on how to price your sponsorships to see dramatic growth in revenue (and it doesn't include needing to win the title this season).

Steve DeLay is co-author with Jon Spoelstra of "The Ultimate Toolkit to Sell the Last Seat in the House" being used by more than 140 teams and colleges around the world and the forthcoming "Ultimate Toolkit - Sponsorships". You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeLay2.

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