I was talking to a friend on the Third Tribe forums (disclosure: I’m a co-founder) about a sponsorship opportunity she had, and I gave her my advice for her specific circumstance (that’s the cool thing about over there: we do a lot of good one-on-one interaction in the forums). I realized that I have more to share here and so thought I’d give you some ideas about sponsors, audience, and your role as a content creator.
Sponsors Want Your Audience
First and foremost, if someone approaches you to sponsor your blog, your event, your whatever, what they’re saying is, “We’ll pay you in exchange for having access of some kind to your audience. They ultimately want to either a.) sell, or b.) show thought leadership in a space by connecting via your platform. More often than not, it’s A.
It’s up to you to help them achieve this goal. But of course, it’s also up to you to preserve your audience, and to not make them feel like you’re selling them to the highest bidder.
Your Audience Wants Good Content
Whether you’re a blogger, a conference, a TV show, or some other kind of media, the people you’ve gathered around you most often come to you for entertainment and education. If you’re Hanley Wood, you’re educating people in the building and construction world (for instance). You’re attracting contractors, builders, architects, and other related professionals to an event with information and opportunities that they won’t find elsewhere. If you’re Mark Horvath’s Invisible People, you’re attracting people who want to know what the world of homeless people is like, and want to hear stories that compel them to give.
Your audience wants the best of what you can put out, and they want to know that you’ll protect them from scummy people. For instance, if I go to a conference, and my inbox suddenly fills up with spammy emails from exhibitors I’ve yet to meet or signal that I want more information, I probably won’t go to that show again, and I’ll probably raise holy hell until my name is off every list, etc. Your audience never wants to feel sold out. They want your best, and they want your protection.
You Have to Make Good
You have to give sponsors the opportunity they need to sell or spread their influence. You have to give your audience your best content and your protection. By getting into the sponsorship game, you’re accepting responsibility for this relationship on both sides, and you’re promising to protect everyone involved. Once you understand this, you can determine when it’s a good idea to take sponsorship or not, you can decide whether your sponsors are the right ones for your audience, you can decide how best to give everyone in the triangle what they want.
It’s a big responsibility, but it’s definitely one way to exchange value.
Any other questions? How else can I help?
Oh, and this is the kind of stuff we’re talking about at Third Tribe Marketing, or some of it. You can ask any question there about marketing and get a bunch of responses. It’s been really fun for me, and others are saying mostly good stuff about it. I’ve also started recording some new exclusive audio content for there that will start airing in a few weeks, so if you jump on now, you’ll get notified. Good?