Working With Sponsors: Managing Expectations

By Sara Urquhart. Photography by Maggie VH.

 In any sponsor relationship, you need to manage expectations. This is true for the very first boutique ad you set up, or the first Esty shop that gives you product in exchange for a post, or for a big name sponsor that is giving you a lot of money. The amount involved doesn’t matter—you always have to manage expectations.

Sponsors aren’t expecting you to be a Fortune 500 company. They’re looking for real people and real conversations about their brand; so, consider your social media outlets as real strengths. Do you have a newsletter where you can feature them? A strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram?

A good relationship begins with a good conversation. Ask a lot of questions. Here are the questions I always begin with:

  • Tell me about your brand?
  • What are your goals for the year?
  • How do you measure success?
  • How involved would you like to be with the project?

Tailor your pitch around what you can do best and what your sponsor needs. Are they looking for Facebook likes? Brand recognition? Sponsored posts? Twitter followers? You have to know!

I recommend a simple, one-page agreement that outlines what sponsors need, how you plan to accomplish that, and how you’ll be compensated. Ask your mentor or your professional network about ad rates, or ask to see a media kit from a blog your size or a bit bigger. I’ve found that people generally are willing to share this type of information.

For our sponsors, I always try to give a little more than we’ve agreed on. If we’ve contracted on a certain number of tweets, I try to give them more. If they’ve paid for a certain level of exposure at Alt, I try to give them a little more. This approach creates goodwill, and, in case anything goes wrong along the way, over-delivering on my commitments always helps.

Personally following up with your sponsors is essential. It reinforces the value of bloggers as real people, and strengthens your relationship with the contact at the brand. It’s also key to evaluating your success. Are they happy with the final results? Would they like to work with you in the future?

Believe in the value you offer to sponsors, and start building those relationships!