The £250 million ask – Part 2 – two more techniques

Chelsea Football Club’s recent award-winning shirt sponsorship campaign was unorthodox and wildly successful. To any curious fundraiser, the way they achieved this lucrative feat is worthy of study.

They sent a personalised package to the CEOs of 250 of the most successful companies in the world. If you were one of those chosen few, when you opened the package, you would have found firstly a Chelsea shirt, in your size, with your name on the back.  You would also have found a laptop, pre-loaded with a film which painted a picture of what life will be like when your company becomes Chelsea’s main sponsor. The film includes fans celebrating with you on the street and famous Chelsea players scoring unbelievable goals, wearing a shirt with your companies’ name on it.

The tactic generated interest from several companies and through the subsequent bidding war the price increased until Yokohama finally won the multi-year deal, worth around £250 million.

Tactic 1. In my last blog I described how two charities have applied the primary influencing tactic from Chelsea’s play-book, (securing gifts of £14 million and £50,000 respectively).

Today I want to explore two more tactics which made this £250 million ask succeed:

Tactic 2. Deliberately use names. A major cost to the sponsorship team was making every film bespoke, painstakingly slotting each prospects’ name into most scenes. My guess is you are well aware that people prefer you to get their name right, but were you aware of just how powerful people’s names are in affecting their decision-making, such as whether or not to give to charity?

For example, in a study of factors which affected donations to the Hurricane Katrina Appeal, researchers found that people whose name began with ‘K’, like Katie or Kevin, were 260 times more likely to give than people whose names began with a different letter. Yes, really! This study defies common sense, and yet Professor Jesse Chandler has found a similar effect following every hurricane stretching back decades. The ‘initial effect’ suggests that we are so attached to our names, we are subconsciously more likely to respond to opportunities with which we share an initial.

If our donors’ names are so important to them, (but we don’t raise funds for a hurricane relief effort) what should the power of names remind us to do differently?

Go the extra mile in proactively using people’s names.

For example, in one study carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team attached to the Cabinet Office, Deutsche bank employees received a generalised email (eg Dear colleague…’) from their Chief Executive encouraging them to sign up to give a day of their salary. 5% percent agreed. But, when employees received an identical email that began instead with a personalised greeting (eg ‘Dear Mary’) the take-up rate rocketed to 12%.

Tactic 3. Future pace it. Watching the film evokes a world in which the Chief Exec has already agreed to the sponsorship and is enjoying the fruits of that decision.

Whenever you’re helping someone make a decision that involves some short term effort (eg getting yourself to go to the gym; helping a supporter agree to partnership), a powerful strategy is to help them feel those future results now.

One of my favourite examples was when Alzheimer’s Society, pitching to Tesco for what was to be the largest partnership ever, brought with them a mocked up 3D version of what the proposed Memory Buses would look like, including the prominently displayed branding of the supermarket next to this important social cause.

The power of these tactics is once you have seen, heard or smelt a version of what will have happened long after you have said ‘yes’, it becomes easier to believe that such a reality, with those benefits, is possible. When pitching to a corporate, could you show the tweets or headlines of what great things will have happened for the company in six months’ time? When talking to a major donor, are you able to help them look with certainty at a future reality in which they have already transformed lives?

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