In this episode Josh talks with Charmaine Hammond from Raise a Dream. They discuss how the right sponsorships can help lessen expenses and expand your reach.
Charmaine Hammond has been in the business of transforming lives and raising dreams for more than 25 years. This former Correctional Officer (yup! She worked in jails) and Corporate Dispute Resolution Expert now travels the world teaching the principles of collaboration, partnership and sponsorship.
Her clients are having tremendous success securing their own partners and sponsors as a result of Charmaine’s teachings and programs.
In today’s episode you will learn:
- Why do you want to have sponsors?
- If you are a small business, is sponsorship something you should think about?
- What are the steps you need to take to put yourself in a position to be sponsored?
- What could you expect as far as the amount of economic support that a sponsor would give you?
- Is there such a thing as a really bad sponsor and a really good sponsor?
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business.
My guest today is Charmaine Hammond. Charmaine is really interesting. She is going to help us talk about sponsorships. Sponsorships are something that I keep thinking I should be getting and I don’t know how to do it. When I think about it, I just get confused. Let’s bring the expert on and we’ll start the conversation.
Hey, Charmaine. How are you today?
Charmaine: I am doing great. Thank you so much for having me on, Josh. I’m excited about the conversation.
Josh: Me, too. This is like something that I find really pretty confusing and something that I know I need to learn more about. By the way, now, this is Episode 204, I think. You’re the first person is talking about sponsorships with us.
Charmaine: Oh, wow. Great.
Josh: That’s great. Yes.
Josh: First off, let’s start off with the why. Why do you want to have sponsors?
Charmaine: Great question to start off with. I sum it up to sort of the three I’s. They’re easy to remember. One of the reasons we want to look at sponsorship is that it can bring in new revenue. It’s a revenue stream into our business. So, it can bring in new revenue and it can decrease the money that we’re having to spend on certain things that could be otherwise sponsored.
The second I is about our impact. When you’re working with brands and companies, small and large, and you’re tapping into their network – their following, their email list, you are building influence and impact. Those are the other two I’s. So, sponsorship is more than just about income to your business, or your project, or the dreams you’re raising. It’s about the influence and the impact that you make in the world as well.
Josh: So, if I’m a small business, and I have 25 employees, and maybe I’m doing a million dollars in revenue, is sponsorship something I should think about?
Charmaine: You know, sponsorship – a lot of people say, “I just started, or I just rebranded, or I’m growing, I’m scaling, can sponsorship work for me?” The response I love to share is that just as you might be still growing and scaling, or you might have a business that is totally successful and rocking it, there are different kinds of sponsors that will work with different kind of businesses. So, for example, newer businesses that are looking to build sponsorship relationships are really going to be well-served by working with newer companies that are looking for innovative ways to market their product or services.
So, for example, we had a client who had been in business a long time but rebranded. As a result of her book and her new speaking, there was a new brand that she was creating for herself. It was very different from what she had done in her business in the past. And so, in her pursuit to build relationships with sponsors, she started looking at some of the sponsors that were newer in business, so under three years, I think, it was, that were first of all in her community but that they were looking for marketing opportunities. She was able to partner with them and secure a sponsorship. And then, by being successful at that, she was then able to attract larger sponsors outside of her community.
So, there are different ways. Depending on the size of your business, and how much you’re generating, and what your scaling plan is, there’s opportunities for people to work with sponsors. There’s billions and billions of dollars in corporate sponsorship available and it’s waiting for a home and a project. It might be your project.
Josh: So, if you’re a small business and you want to get sponsors, what are the steps you need to take to put yourself in a position to be sponsored?
Charmaine: Excellent question because sometimes people miss those steps and then they make critical mistakes. So, one of the first things you want to do, before you pick up the phone and call people you know and businesses you’ve never met, is you want to take note. Really, this is a great homework exercise is to write down all of the assets that you have. By assets, I mean, what do you have that could be really desirable to a sponsor?
So, let’s as-is this, Josh, and I’ll just look at you. You have a book. You speak. You have a podcast. Those are all really desirable to many businesses because they look at that and think, “Wow, a speaker, an author, a podcaster who also does streams on Facebook Live could really get my product or service in front of a lot of people.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well, I’m not a podcaster. I’m not a speaker. I’m not an author.” That’s okay. You just want to look at all of the ways that you get in front of people and the assets you have. So, if you have a blog, a social media, following, an email list, a brick and mortar store, or retail location, or an online location, and write all those down.
And then, the next step, Josh, is really about figuring out what would be wonderful in your business to have sponsored or essentially paid for by another company that you work in collaboration with. So, for example, would it be great to have all your printing needs handled, or all your marketing costs or some of the platforms that you use? Could those be sponsored?
Josh: All good thing.
So, if I’m starting off in sponsorship, what sort of economic benefit can I expect? I know it’s all over the place and this is not really a fair question but most people listening to this podcast are small businesses and don’t have followings in the hundreds of thousands. They probably have followings in the thousands but more likely in the hundreds. So, what could they expect as far as the amount of economic support that a sponsor would give them?
Charmaine: So, you’re right, Josh. It is all over the map because it depends on who the person seeking sponsorship is, what their assets are, who they’re approaching for sponsorship. So, we’ll be all over the map but what I can say to you – you mentioned something really important, a second ago, which was about the following and the reach that businesses have. What we’ve discovered – and this is coming from the many, many conversations and interviews we’ve done with a variety of different sponsors. They’re all telling us that the size of your email list or the size of your really hot social media realm that because they see how broadly their brand can be promoted. They’re telling us that larger followings are not necessarily better because sponsors are also really savvy. They go and look at our social media following and they can tell very quickly whether you’ve purchased your following or whether it’s an organic following.
If you think about it, when you purchase a following, when you pay money to have like 10,000 new Twitter followers, if those Twitter followers are not actively engaging with you, they’re definitely not going to be actively engaging with a sponsor, so the sponsor looks at it and says, “That’s great that you have 15,000 people on your Twitter following and most of them look like they were purchased followers, so there’s no advantage. We’d rather have you have a thousand that actually engage, and comment, and like and share because our brand could be better represented there.” I’m so glad you raised that, Josh, because that’s one of the things that gets in the way. We often look at, “I’m just starting out or my following is still building. Nobody will want to partner with me” and that isn’t the case.
In terms of what you can expect, what I love about sponsorship is that it’s not just the dollars that we can expect in sponsorship and the increased impact and influence. It’s also about the way we can reduce our business expenses. My example I’ll give for you when my first book came out in 2010. It was a book about my dog. It was a memoir about how my dog changed my life called On Toby’s Terms. Like many authors, that might be listening, I started tracking up how much this launch and release party was going to cost. I just thought, “Well, I really don’t want to pay for this all.” So, I reached out to 40 different colleagues, people that I knew in my business circles and the businesses that I dealt with all week long like my hair stylist, my financial planner, my bank. I ended up with 40 sponsors. None of them gave cash, zero cash, but their contributions in in-kind sponsorship totaled about $40,000 a year that didn’t need to come out of my personal or business account. I had all my clothes sponsored my makeup, my hair, my printing, my venue space [laughs], sponsors buying my books to give out at events. That’s the other cool piece of sponsorship that it can decrease the cost of you doing business or some of the activities related to your business and all the while you’re working in partnership with a sponsor. This is really a mutually satisfactory relationship.
Josh: I don’t know if this makes any sense, but is there a possibility that your sponsor would actually increase your reach?
Charmaine: Yeah, absolutely. I remember I did a tour called The Million Acts of Kindness tour. It was featuring the kids’ books that I wrote about my dog after my first book. We had one sponsor who came in at the very last minute, a technology sponsor. It was Telus who is a telecom communication in Canada. They did one tweet when we were sort of kicking off the tour. We were leaving home in a sponsored motorhome. They did one tweet. That tweet reached – I think it was 1.7 million people. All of a sudden, I noticed my phone sort of making those notification noises and I thought. “What is going on?” because I hadn’t put anything out that minute. I didn’t realize they had. They had put out this wonderful tweet that was being so actively shared. And then, people that I knew were seeing it and tagging me. And so, it absolutely increased our reach but, at the same time, it increased our credibility.
Josh: You know, that happened to me and I wasn’t prepared for it. It wasn’t a sponsorship but this was– I don’t know how many years ago. It was a long time ago. I was trying to become a blogger for the New York Times so I would stalk the You’re the Boss page and comment. One of the writers wrote what I thought was just a completely ridiculous stupid post. I wrote that. I wrote a very detailed critique of what he had written about his business because he was doing dumb things.
He didn’t like that so he wrote his next post about my comment. In there, he said, “At first, I read this, I hated it. And then, I looked at whether this guy, Josh Patrick, had any idea of what he’s talking about and, lo and behold, he does.” So, because of that mention in the Times – we had no call to actions on our website – nothing. It was just a business card or a brochure. I think we had something like 300, or 400, or 500 visits off of that post. Because we weren’t prepared for it, nothing happened. I don’t know anything about sponsorship but I can tell you that if you’re sponsoring, you better get your house in order to take advantage of the by-products that come out of that.
Charmaine: That is such a rich comment, Josh. I am actually guilty of making that mistake more times than we want to talk about on your podcast. For me, it took a few times to think, “Wow. I need to be better prepared and think this through because there were all these missed opportunities.”
And so, one of the things that we did that is related to sponsorship but also influenced building and it relates to the comment you made about media is we came up with something that worked really well for us and could maybe work well for your listeners is that I have a circle of champions, is what I call them, and we’ve all agreed, we all have an audience that would be interested in each other’s content. Not necessarily the same audience but a relevant audience. In our circle of champions, we’ve agreed that if somebody is on media or has a really important message that they’re sharing, we’ll support that through our social media through things like commenting, sharing, tagging other influencers, that would be okay with that. We’ve checked it out with them at first so we don’t burn any relationships. That’s been really powerful because when I get on media, I can then reach out to my circle and say, “I’ve just been on TV. I really want this show this TV host or this podcast host some love. Can you please share out, comment, engage?”
The power of what happens is, all of a sudden, that podcast interview or that TV interview is now being shared by many people. The host is thinking, “Wow. Who is this person that’s got such traffic around our conversation today?” It leads to a lot of opportunities, but that required us to be thinking ahead of getting on the shows and getting on the media.
You’ve brought up something so important, Josh. When you think about it, from a sponsor perspective, imagine if you’re on a podcast or a show and you just happen to tell a story about one of your sponsors without even saying they’re a sponsor. You just tell this wonderful story about a sponsor. And then, you get your champions to share that. And then you send your sponsor – the link saying, “Hey, we were good gossiping about you today on this podcast.” That’s a way of also keeping in touch with them long after your project has ended because the hope is you’ll be able to go back to that sponsor next time you’re doing something that you need sponsorship for.
Josh: That makes a ton of sense to me.
I’m going to assume the answer is yes to this. Is there such a thing as a really bad sponsor and a really good sponsor? How can you tell the difference before you start working with them?
Charmaine: Oh, I love that question. I’m smiling because yes, there is. There are sponsors that are the perfect fit for you and your business and there are sponsors that are not a good fit. The wrong fit can actually damage your brand. It can also damage the sponsor’s brand. There’s a term that we use. I love this term. I just like to share it because I think it’s a cool term in the sponsorship world and we hear it a lot in the nonprofit world. The term is mission creep. It’s not a creepy person.
Josh: Yup. No, I know exactly what you mean.
Charmaine: Yeah, you’re going way too far away from your core business message. If a sponsor does that, it can be catastrophic for them and they have a lot of damage to repair. It’s the same for you. If we choose the wrong sponsor, as a small business or entrepreneur, and it takes us way too away from our mission, it can absolutely damage our brand our credibility. People get confused.
The other difference to your question, Josh, about the right sponsor and the wrong sponsor, is value alignment. The big question I always have is when I’m researching sponsors – and this is one way you can start to find out if sponsors could be a good fit or not a good fit for you is to research them. Anytime I’m interested in a brand, as a sponsor, to partner with, build a relationship with, I look at their social media. I look at how are they engaging with their following. Does it feel like it’s natural? Does it feel like it’s forced communication because I really like to be part of a natural communication? Do they use words that really kind of make me think, “Ooh, I would not speak to people that way”? Do they tend to use words that are not part of my communication at all? Are they using images that are offensive or ones that I can align with?
We want to look at their social media and their website to really start testing. Does it feel like there are some synergies here? Is this a brand that I could happily, responsibly, and ethically support? We’ve seen cases where people take money or other forms of sponsorship for the money and they don’t even like the brand. That is just a disaster waiting to happen.
Josh: Yeah, I find that people who promote – like, there are internet stars out there that do an affiliate relationship which is a sponsorship of a sort. Every single week, they’re flacking some new thing. Now, they might be friends with them but I have a hard time believing that there are 40 companies that I would highly want to promote, that I’m aware of, to my audience. I believe that these people – even though there’s some short-term gain, meaning that they get these affiliate commissions, which are large. After enough of their tribe make bad purchases with companies that don’t produce what they promise, it hurts your main brand tremendously.
You’ve really brought up, Josh, the importance of us being really strategic with this. When we’re looking at sponsorship as another revenue stream in our business and a way to build influence and impact to make a difference, we really want to strategically think about, how does this fit into our business? What are the type of sponsorships that we would want to work towards?
The key with sponsorship and what makes it work is it’s a collaboration. It’s a partnership between you and that company. As a business owner, we’ve got to be prepared that it’s not just taking a check. The company is expecting – the sponsor is expecting that some kind of a return on investment from sponsoring you. And so, the more work you can do upfront to build that relationship with the sponsor, after you’ve researched them, the better you can create a really meaningful, ongoing, longer term relationship that doesn’t exhaust your audience because neither you or the sponsor want to drive your audience crazy with so much promotion that you lose followers, that’s not going to help anyone.
You want to think very strategically so that this fits into your business instead of having to keep adding things to your business because that’s where, as entrepreneurs sometimes, we start to feel like we have so many puzzles going on and none of the pieces are coming together. And then, we just keep creating new projects. And then, our time and energy isn’t focused. We do require that for sponsorship, that focus.
Josh: You just brought up a really good point which I needed an answer to, and we’re going to have to end the conversation here, is how much time does it take to create a sponsorship program?
Charmaine: Yeah, I love that.
Again, it’s a little over the map, depending on if you’re looking at local sponsors versus national, regional, global sponsors. Here’s my short answer to that, Josh, that if you were to do one action every single day, just one. In the course of a year, that is 365 actions that you’ve taken towards sponsorship. It might just be 15 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour a day but that is probably 350 more activities than most people are doing to work at sponsorships.
If you look at what would that look like? What would an hour a day towards building sponsorship into my business look like? It might be picking your top three favorite brands that you use and love, researching them. And then, figuring out, “Who is the person to call?” That’s your first hour today. And then, tomorrow, it might be going on to LinkedIn and finding that person to call and getting the phone setup.
Just In those two days, in an hour, you’ve done more work than some people do in their whole career or their whole sponsorship endeavors. It’s about smaller actions and consistent actions. An hour a day will help you so much.
Josh: That’s a great advice, although many people don’t have an hour a day. Even spending 15 minutes a day will get you dinner.
Charmaine: Totally, 15 minutes a day is – you look at that, over the course of the year, that’s a lot of concentration and sponsorship.
Josh: For example, I spend the first 15 or 20 minutes of my day doing LinkedIn messages. I’ve got 10,000 connections on LinkedIn. We’ve built a long time to do that. Now, the first 5000 were the wrong connections.
Charmaine: Ah, yeah.
Josh: The next 5000 were the right connections because I actually thought about who I wanted to connect with. It’s the same thing with sponsorship. I think you’ve really got to think about who you want to connect with and then you go from there.
Charmaine: Yeah. You bet.
Josh: I’ve got to tell you something, Charmaine, your advice is really, really, really good.
Charmaine: Oh, thank you.
Josh: It has been a ton of meat today for this stuff. I have to ask you, what kind of dog you have?
Charmaine: He is a Chesapeake Bay retriever.
Josh: I love retrievers.
Charmaine: Yeah. Me, too.
Josh: I’m a golden guy but that’s besides the point.
Charmaine: Yeah [laughter]. Any retriever is good by me. I just love retrievers.
So, Charmaine, I’m willing to bet you have a program that helps people learn how to do sponsorships?
Charmaine: Yeah, I do. We’ve got an online program. There’s a great video on our website called Collaboration to Cash. It summarizes what we’ve been talking about today. That’s on raiseadream.com. You can find information there on how to turn collaborations into cash. There’s also information there about our mentoring programs that we work one-to-one with people and also our online programs. That’s called the Big Dream Primer Program, taking your big dream to new heights through sponsorship.
Josh: Again, what was that website?
Charmaine: The website is raiseadream.com. Raiseadream.com.
Josh: If I wanted to send you an email, how would I do that?
Charmaine: You can just do email@example.com. I answer all of my own emails so, if you’re emailing, you’re getting me.
Josh: Cool. That’s great.
Well, I also have an offer for you. As Charmaine mentioned, I, this year, published my first book. There’s two ways to get it. One is you can go to Amazon and get the book. You can buy it and they’ll ship it to you or get it on the Kindle and you can read it. Or, you can go to my book website, which is www.sustainablethebook.com and buy the book there. If you do that, you get to have a free 20‑minute coaching call with me where I’ll guarantee you’ll get at least one actionable idea, if not 19, but at least one. You’ll also get a 37‑page primer I wrote about how to implement the stuff we talk about in the book because the book is a novel. It’s a business novel, with lots of problems, but you don’t get the how-to’s and that’s what the side of thing is.
This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been with Charmaine Hammond. You’re at the sustainable business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.