Kick Off Your Q2 with These 4 Corporate Engagement Action Items
March 14, 2023
By Bruce Rosenthal and Lori Zoss Kraska, MBA, CFRE
We’ve seen the lists distributed the first week in January with titles like “23 Tips for 2023” or “Start Off Your Year with this Baker’s Dozen of Ideas”. However, what happens after three months? How do you keep the momentum going as you move into Spring? To help, here is our list of corporate engagement action items to kick off your Q2.
Ask about Annual Budget Cycles (Bruce)
I was conducting a confidential interview with a corporate sponsor on behalf of a non-profit organization client. I asked the company’s VP of Marketing, “If the organization made some of the improvements to its sponsorship program that we’ve been discussing, would your company consider increasing your sponsorship spend with the organization?” The response was, “We’d like to give the organization more money, however, we can’t.”
I was surprised and asked “Why?” The marketing vice president explained, “The organization comes to us four times a year asking us to sponsor an event or program at different price points; I don’t know what they’re going to ask for next, so for the past five years I’ve budgeted the same sponsorship amount.” She continued, “If the organization came to me when I am working on my marketing budget with a plan for the upcoming year, I’d probably increase my company’s sponsorship fee.”
Consider LinkedIn instead of Email for First Engagement (Lori)
Corporate decision makers are bombarded with emails every day. Internal meeting requests, direction to review documentation, and prompts for comment are just a small sample of emails in the inbox. This doesn’t include the hundreds of messages per week high level decision makers receive from outside organizations like associations, media, and vendors. Campaign Monitor reports an average of 121 emails received per day in a corporation and growing since they first started reporting email usage in 2019. That being said, finding new ways to connect with corporate decision makers is essential.
LinkedIn has become a successful alternative tool for reaching out to connect. In my own work connecting with high level Fortune 1000 decision makers, I’m using LinkedIn as my primary initial outreach as opposed to email. Benefits of LinkedIn include having vital information about the decision maker’s role and interest right in front of you. Also, with LinkedIn messaging you can see if the person you’re connecting with is active on LinkedIn as well as posting content. Messages are centralized and easy to search. Most importantly, your outreach message in LinkedIn avoids the clutter of the email inbox which increases the chances of your message being noticed.
Review Largest Purchase Orders from the Previous Year (Bruce)
I was meeting with the Board of Directors for a state-wide association of municipal governments. We were discussing strategies to increase the revenue from the association’s sponsorship program. The association’s Director of Sponsorships shared the list of the association’s sponsors. A Board member asked, “Has there been any change in our roster of sponsors in recent years?” The answer was “no”. That begged the question, “How can we recruit more sponsor companies?”
One Board member said, “I have an idea! Who are we buying products and services from? What if each of us asks our Finance Officer to create a list of the 10 largest dollar amount purchase orders for the past year?” The association’s Director of Sponsorships can review these lists to determine if some of the companies from which we buy products and services would be good candidates for sponsorship.”
Create Board Engagement Friendraising Strategy (Lori)
Your board of directors plays a vital role in upholding the mission, vision, and values of your association or purpose driven organizations. Also, they are there to help senior executives when they can in various areas of operations like finance, legal, executive recruitment, compliance, and funding. Although not all board members have the capacity or comfort level to help secure non dues revenue or sponsorship, board members are usually open to making a connection or referral into a corporation.
I recently facilitated a board retreat for a non-profit board where several of the members admitted that they haven’t provided referrals or connections because they were never asked. This highlights why it’s important to create a strategy to quarterly check in with board members for referrals and connections. Create a goal of each board member providing 1-2 professional connections that can assist you with finding corporate partners or corporate sponsors. These can be contacts within the company where your board member works or colleagues in their professional network that can connect you with other interested companies and stakeholders. This strategy increases board member engagement while at the same time provides them with an achievable roadmap to assist you with your organization’s sponsorship, non-dues, and partnership goals.
In summary, it might be the beginning of Q2 but there’s plenty of 2023 left to make an impact for your organization in the area of corporate engagement. Asking questions about budget cycles, trying tools like LinkedIn for outreach, reviewing largest PO’s and engaging board members are just a few examples to get you started. Even if you just choose one or two that resonate most, you’ll activate your corporate engagement efforts in the right direction!
About the Authors
Combining their extensive years of experience in corporate support and corporate partnership, Lori Zoss Kraska, MBA, CFRE and Bruce Rosenthal have come together to share insights and best practices with a series of Quarterly Engagement Action Items.
Lori is the founder of Growth Owl, LLC, and author of The Boardroom Playbook. Before starting Growth Owl, LLC, Lori held leadership positions within public media, commercial media, and purpose driven organizations responsible for corporate sponsorship.
Bruce Rosenthal is the founder of Bruce Rosenthal Associates, LLC, co-convener of the Partnership Professionals Network, and author of articles on corporate sponsorship programs. Before starting Bruce Rosenthal Associates, LLC, Bruce held high level corporate member and engagement positions for various national associations.
Both Lori and Bruce are regularly invited on the speaker circuit and featured in various webinars, presentations, and podcasts about corporate partnership and support.