We read a great article from one of our favorite marketers, Seth Godin. It was all about the decisions you tend to do only once (maybe twice) and how you automatically have an experience disadvantage when you go enter these decisions.
Wildly, these decisions all happen to be quite significant. He mentions planning a wedding, raising money from venture capitalists and applying to college as examples of things you will likely do very few times.
We would like to add sponsorship to that list as it is a natural fit. Sponsorship isn't like running a digital ad or even a print ad. Sponsorships involve intimate relationships that work best when built over many years of partnership together. So while you will gain experience as a sponsor over time, at the onset, you are in danger of what Godin calls "experience asymmetry."
When you enter sponsorship negotiations with properties like race teams, series, venues and drivers, the chances of them being more experienced than you is high. This is part of their job, to raise money for their competitive efforts. But for you, it is a strategy. A campaign that your boss told you to pursue.
In these asymmetric situations, it’s unlikely that you’re going to outsmart the experienced folks who have seen it all before. It’s unlikely that you’ll outlast them either. When you have to walk into one of these events, it pays to hire a local guide. Someone who knows as much as the other folks do, but who works for you instead.
A sponsorship activation agency is the local guide. Find the right one that will represent you and your interests, and isn't out for sales or quotas.