When you ask ask a business for sponsorship

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I am writing this after much thought. I did think that it might be a career suicide, but I think I need to speak for my business and maybe for some other small business owner out there as well.

And I write this from the bottom of my heart.

Once in a while, I receive some request to sponsor an event, in a form of samples or a lucky draw prize of a certain value.

As a small business, exposure is important to us. Sponsorship does help us get the word out to small groups of people, especially if it is our targeted group of people, namely parents and kids. But these days, I am weighing on exposure AND self-worth. My pride in my business is just as important, if not more.

Just like the effort of someone who puts in to request for a sponsorship, small business owners like us put in effort to pack all those samples and prizes by ourselves. We curate the lucky draw prize to make it as relevant and useful to your winner as possible. We want the participants to enjoy the product and not just chuck it one side when they receive it.

Contrary to popular belief, owning a business doesn’t mean we have the financial means to do anything. You will find that some of us small business owners depend a lot on family support to help us with our business, whether it is to help look after the kids, or to help out at a booth. So that we can keep costs low and keep our prices reasonable. So that we can go out there and interact with our customers, to listen to their needs.

Before you ask for any sponsorship, we ask that you think about WHY you want to approach us for our sponsorship; we ask that you think about WHAT you can do for us in order to maximise our exposure to your audience; we ask that you think about HOW you can do it, and HOW we can help to maximise that exposure. You will be surprised at how we would be happy to help.

More often than not, the request for sponsorship ends up being a show. Too boost a goodie bag and fill it up with as much goodies as possible. Of course, who wouldn’t love a bagful of freebies? I have sponsored a few events, and never heard back from them post collection of sponsored products. It has come across as sponsorship is an expectation. It is a given. Samples/goodies thrown into the goodie bag and that’s the organisers job done.

There is no known marketing done, PRIOR to the event to tell your audience about your sponsors. There is no known sharing about your sponsors DURING your event to your audience. There is no known follow up to your sponsors either.

I repeatedly use the words ‘no known’ because I am not privvy to such information. Nor were they offered to me as a form of accountability for the sponsorship.

We just have to wait and hope for the best. We end up not knowing the value of our time and efforts of this sponsorship.

Again, exposure is important to us. So is the time and effort that we put into it as well. When there is no additional effort on your end, no feedback on our end, we do not feel like the sponsorship is worth it. Sponsorship is still money. We paid for the products that we brought it, and we considered if it is worth sponsoring to share about the product. It is advertising money, with you being the middle person to act on our behalf.

Crediting us on your private mummy group page is one way. But we have no means of knowing because it is a private group. I am part of these mummy groups as well, and even as a consumer, I would feel uncomfortable if there were retailers bombarding the pages with advertisements. I would ask to join these groups to see what kind of creditation has been made. It is all done in trust.

Out of the few sponsorships we have done, we have only heard back from ONE group who showed us how they shared and credited. They have sent me photos of the event. I was even told that the additional products we have thrown in can be used for pre-event awareness for my business by doing a giveaway.

THAT gets my thumbs up. THAT is effort and maximizing the exposure of my business. The organiser offered me suggestions on she could drive traffic to my page and offered to conduct the giveaway. She even organised the posting of the products to the winners. THAT is initiative.

With another group, we were featured on their Facebook Page with an introduction and what we were about prior to the event. The participants attending will know then know about what our business was about, and possibly anticipate what they were going to expect in their goodie bag.

It makes me feel that moving forward, I would expect proposals for EVERY single sponsorship request. Tedious right? Puts people off wanting to request for sponsorship? I don’t mind. It tells me how much you want the sponsorship and what you are willing to do for me. It tells me how much work you are willing to put in cos I sure am putting a lot of effort.

Small businesses are businesses as well. Our customers are our stakeholders and if sponsorships are too much work for someone to put in, then I am better off spending more time on my genuine and existing customers who appreciate me for the effort I put in.

I know this does not apply to every group that has asked me for a sponsorship. There are some black sheep in the group (oh the most ridiculous requests). I only ask that you think a little more when you want to ask for a sponsorship. It does make us feel a little more valued and more inclined to work with you.

a small business owner + soon-to-be mother of 3 + SAHM

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