How To Excel At Securing Sponsorships As A Small Rights Holder

How To Excel At Securing Sponsorships As A Small Rights Holder
Steven Mervis, Mscsports.

Steven Mervis Head Strategist at Mscsports, says that in sports or entertainment, a rights holder holds exclusive broadcast rights to distribute certain content or properties. For many rights holders, the ultimate ambition is securing fantastic sponsorships that can elevate their organisation or event to the next level. The problem is that finding these partners is incredibly challenging, especially for rights holders with limited reach, those who are just starting out, or those that lack mainstream recognition.

While there aren’t any quick fixes, a few actions can significantly improve your chances of finding that future-defining partner. Here are several key traits that will set any small rights holder apart and truly help when convincing brands to take the plunge.

Build Your Audience

The lowest-hanging fruit is to build your audience on social media. This does not mean you need millions of fans across all platforms but rather a core audience who loves what you do and actively engages regularly.

While there is a great deal that a rights holder can offer a potential partner, the first thing any marketer will always be interested in is eyeballs – how many people will see their brand and engage with it. While it isn’t always possible to grow this audience exponentially, if as a rights holder you focus on creating varied engaging content that speaks directly to the target audience, you are likely to build influence with your fans, which is what sponsors are looking for.

Know Your Audience

When I say know your audience, I don’t just mean what kind of content on Instagram they are most likely to engage with; I mean everything. Where they live, how old they are, their income, interests, anything you can find out is invaluable.

One of the main reasons why any brand would partner with you is to meet fans at their passion point – a place where audiences are far more likely to engage and convert. Why not use that to your advantage by running surveys to give your fans the things they crave? If the Springboks offered the chance to win tickets to a test match for filling out a survey, I know I would participate. This way they get something they want, and you learn more about them without having to pay huge premiums.

There is nothing better than showing a brand exactly why your audience links directly to theirs, so the more you know, the more you can show.

Pitch From The Brand’s Perspective

A trap that so many smaller rights holders fall into is to pitch purely from their perspective. We see this all the time, rights holders talking about why they need the money, how much money they need, and what rights they are willing to offer. Too often, proposals are focused on why they need support and not why a brand should support them.

The bottom line is this: the investment you are asking for is coming out of a brand’s marketing budget. Budgets are often very tight, and marketers need to prove value for every rand spent. Why should a brand partner with you instead of producing a new television commercial or putting more money behind digital advertising?

Whenever you are selling yourselves, you need to pitch from the brand’s perspective. Show them why you are the right partner, what value they would get from the partnership and even a few examples of how they could potentially leverage it. It’s also important to be flexible with your rights offering to ensure it is tailored to their needs.

While ‘doing good’ can be a compelling argument for a partnership, you will have far more success if it is also backed by evidence that the brand will have a tangible return on their spend.

Sell The Passion

Marketers are humans too. While we all try not to be affected by our emotions when making big decisions, emotions will inevitably play a part. That is why it is vital to try to connect with your potential partners on an emotional level.

There is a reason your team or event is a success, and it undoubtedly connects with your audiences on a deeper level – let your potential partners experience and feel that. Give them a taste of what it is like to come to your concert or support your team live. Show them the passion and the love people have for your product, and they will begin to understand why they need to be a part of your world too.

Telling them the facts and showing them why they should partner with you is important, but if you can leave them feeling what your fans feel and truly understand what it is like to be a fan, you are far more likely to succeed.

Excelling at sponsorship as a small rights holder demands strategic engagement, deep audience understanding, and a compelling pitch that resonates rationally and emotionally with brands. By authentically connecting with your audience, aligning offerings with brand goals, and highlighting the passion driving your organisation or event, you unlock doors to impactful partnerships. Remember, it’s not just about what you need from brands, but the value you offer in return. Embrace these ideas to secure sponsorships that elevate your success.