The 5 Steps to Carving the Great Pumpkin of Sponsorship

By: Katie Foglia

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to lead a breakout session at the Sports Entertainment and Tourism Association’s (Sports ETA) 4S Summit in Providence, Rhode Island. The summit focused on strategies, services, sales & sponsorships. I was asked to present in the sponsorship track– and so with the summit taking place in October, I started thinking about Halloween-themed topics. That’s how I landed on the Great Pumpkin.

One of my favorite childhood Halloween books was “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” For those reading who might not be familiar with the story, every Halloween Linus insists on waiting in the pumpkin patch for his hero the Great Pumpkin to appear. Much to his dismay, the pumpkin never arrives. This can be much the same for some sponsorship sellers who seemingly wait around for the next great sponsorship every year that never comes.

My session – The 5 Steps to Carving the Great Pumpkin of Sponsorship – focused on five actionable steps to proactively create the next great sponsorship (versus waiting for it to appear like Linus). Below is an abbreviated version of some of what was shared throughout each section of the presentation.

1. Pick Your Pumpkin | Define Your Story

This section focused on beginning with the end in mind. Thinking through your sales story– key questions to ask:

– What’s our story? What makes us unique?

– What are our headlines?

– What can we deliver better than anyone else?

– What are our biggest growth opportunities?

– How has our bid process evolved year-over-year?

– What are 3-5 new, ownable platforms we can take to market?

Other topics that were discussed: What Puts You on the Map, Hashtags, Instagrammable Inspirations & Your Sales Materials.

2. Cut off the Crown & Scoop Out the Insides Insights | Data-Driven Approach

The second section discussed the current data landscape. There is an overwhelming amount of data sources these days. Between CRM, online/digital, survey and fan data– there’s often a disconnect. A lot can get lost in translation and there’s potential to lose out on that valuable nugget that could help you bring in the next big partner.

At 4FRONT, we focus on understanding the Fan DNA– Demographics, Needs & Attitudes. Often times people focus on the demographics, but we’ve found the most success looking at the needs and attitudes.

The section ended with a discussion on how we G.E.T. fans (Grow. Engage. Transact). And then ultimately how we use insights as to the “why.”

3. Create Your Unique Design & Draw Outline | Innovation Mindset

The third section focused on having a creative or innovative mindset and small things you can change in your day-to-day to help you be more creative. We also discussed the innovation mindset and how to collaborate openly and freely in brainstorms and meetings.

Additionally, when talking about winning with creativity we discussed the virtues of creative/ non-traditional sponsorships including, creating moments of truth, authenticity, emotional connection, enhancing (versus interrupting) and viewing revenue as a result (versus objective). 

4. Carve Your Masterpiece | Pitch Perfect Process

This fourth section focused on the pitch perfect process, AKA evolving your sales approach for success, which included a few fun examples from winning pitches from the 4FRONT team and our partners.

We also discussed how to have a pitch perfect mentality:

– Constant State of Preparedness

– Find the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

– Show Vs. Tell You Understand Their Brand

 In addition, we discussed the pitch perfect mentality and, arguably the most important, writing hand-written thank you notes following the meeting.

5. Light It Up & Display Proudly! | Announcement & Relationship Building

Finally, the last section focused on the earned media announcement and relationship building using the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl as an example.

For more information or to inquire about receiving a copy of the presentation, please email Katie Foglia at

If you are interested in attending our webinar on measuring the value of your sponsorship and what that can do for your organization’s future, click here to register!

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