Finding sponsors for your BIG PROJECT
The lucky winners!
Here’s something we’ve been asked quite a bit in the last week; ‘So how did you win the competition?’
The thing is, we didn’t. We magic-ed the prize ourselves.
For as many ideas as there are, there are as many different ways to make it happen. Here is how we achieved ours.
Our ‘round the world in home exchanges’ idea resulted from a combination of factors. 1) we had agreed a couple of home exchanges for the summer but flights to north America were much more expensive than we had anticipated 2) building an audience for LovePlayWork was the priority before developing our ‘180 days to your office on the beach’ programme further 3) our flat was getting snug to say the least.
So an idea burst into life- a challenge which would allow us to a) use a round the world ticket (you get a LOT more destinations for your money this way so is much more cost effective) b) work with partners with an interest in promoting what we were doing and c) get explore new destinations and cultures.
Getting the word out
Whatever your BIG PLAN, once you’ve ironed out some of the creases like what it’s going to look like, what you want to achieve, when you are going to start etc (don’t worry, this will be an ongoing process!) you need to get out there and start telling people about it. To pull off our idea we knew that we could really do with the support of a home exchange site, first and foremost. That wasn’t too hard as there aren’t loads of them- you may need to narrow down who might be interested in your idea to a manageable few. Firstly we contacted them via twitter, sketching out what we had in mind. In most cases this got us the email address of the right person to tell more.
Working on your proposal is key to getting partners interested
That’s where we needed to start putting more work in, and we spent a couple of days creating written proposals, each one tailored to the company we were approaching based on the research we had done about them. This wasn’t exhaustive, but gave us a better idea of what might appeal to them given their own objectives. From the proposals came several follow up calls. Some led to more calls, some to promises of meetings which never materialised.
Finding the right ear
For us, it all came together with one obvious front runner who although slow to get back to us initially, was completely on board once we had found the right ear (and that was crucial, as there were plenty of people who wanted to say no before we found the one person who believed in what we had in mind). There were plenty of hairy moments though before we found our sponsor, waiting for other companies to call, not hearing back, long delays which were of little consequence to anyone else but created massive hiccups our end. It’s unlikely to happen overnight but listen to the feedback you are getting and keep adapting and pushing forward until you have exhausted all possibilities.
It’s always hardest to convince the first person that your idea is worth investing in. Once you have them on board, others will follow. For us, we continued using similar methods. We thought about what help we might need, the benefits we could offer and then made our approaches. Again, twitter is a great short cut to gauging interest and progressing discussions. This is how we were offered free, comprehensive travel insurance from a company we have been happily using for 8 years, insureandgo.com. It also led us to the most helpful round the world ticket specialist, travelnation.co.uk. Our fantastic new luggage courtesy of Ogio.com came via a different route- our partners homeexchange.com approached them on our behalf. Once you get the ball rolling things can take a life of their own!
How to make finding support a bit easier
People always say it’s easier to make money when you have money. This experience is teaching us that it’s easier to find support when you already have support, so just focus on getting that first partner and the rest will flow more easily.
- It’s not all about the free stuff! Sponsorship or partnering can mean lots of different things, from discounts to cross-promotion, and plenty in-between. There are lots of ways to benefit from joint associations which won’t necessarily always come down to money, especially not in the beginning, so keep your mind open to a wide range of possibilities!
- Give those big ideas the room they deserve. Don’t shut them down too quickly. You probably have a ton of people in your life ready to tell you that your dreams won’t work and that you aren’t being realistic so don’t you join in. Think big- it might not always work but it’s also the only way you are going to make great things happen.
- Work out your unique combination of circumstances and skills and funnel those towards creating what you want. Your big plan won’t look like anyone else’s because only you have your knowledge, experience and vision. Even if your ideas seem a bit farfetched, mull them over and see what you are best off rejecting and which bits start to stick.
- Ask for help! Be cheeky. Sell your vision from the perspective of the benefit to the people you want to get on board. They’re unlikely to help you just for you, but they might just help you if it is of use to them.
- Commit to the idea. Having help would be nice, but don’t let the absence of this be a deal breaker. It actually gives you more confidence to try to win support if deep down you know that you will do it with or without them.
What big plans do you have? Do you have any tips for getting support or sponsorship you can share?
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