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Server Sponsorship - Expert guide on how to get one!

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avatar UED_iRx
Level 26 : Expert Artist
37
28, living in the UK, a proud father and partner to a loving  and an experienced Sales and Marketing executive for the last 7 years. Let's not forget a big gaming fan and a lover of Minecraft. That's enough about me, let's see how any of this helps me in getting a sponsor for a Minecraft server.

Let's face it we're in a world where gaming is a way of life for some people. For those people there's the world of Minecraft and everything it has to offer. As mentioned I know a thing or two when it comes to closing a sale or opening talks to discuss marketing solutions with different companies.

Minecraft is no different when it comes to kicking off a server and wanting to trade your time in return for a server that is provided by a server host. You have to know a few things about these businesses in order to secure a deal.

Understanding your prospect

The first thing you should know about a server hosting business is that they wish to make money. The reason they started the business may be slightly different to "just making money". However the main and most important thing to any business in the world is to "make money". To get money they need to offer something that is of interest to one or many potential customers. In this case a server hosting business will more than likely be looking to secure quite a lot of customers to make the time they invest worth it.

You'll always find a business is offering "The best customer experience available". So if your offer is going to possibly damage that image, you're going to meet stiff resistance to your proposal and receive a lot of rejection. Posting a simple post asking for a server to make your idea a reality simply wont do it. They want something in return, that's usually potential customers.

People buy people

A server hosting company usually is quite small and therefore the person reading your proposal is most likely going to be a decision maker for the business. Make sure you set the tone for your potential business relationship from the start. The last thing you want to be doing is launching a proposal advert full of spelling and punctuation errors. More importantly, keep a professional and polite tone to engage with your potential sponsors. This in mind remember this very important message: Courtesy is the oil that lubricates the machinery of communication.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

I actually hated that turn of phrase when I first heard it many moons ago. However as I grew up and worked in sales I began to understand this on a whole new level. It's so important to understand your own offer and to ensure it can deliver before putting it forward to be considered. If you're going to ask for something in return for your efforts, you need to ensure what you have to offer is worth considering by other people. After all the decision makers of the potential target sponsors are people and they must feel they are getting a good deal.

Proposal, what and where

It's time to look at making a solid proposal that a server hosting business will hopefully make you an offer on. Before you fire out any requests you need to keep in my everything we've gone over so far. Alright I think you're ready to make the proposal. First make a short list of what you have to offer. Let me name a few that will be of interest to your prospective sponsor. Keep in mind they want a return in their investment in the form of traffic which will convert in to customers.

- Website (enjin.com offers a great starter system for first timers and veterans wanting an easy platform to work with)
- Twitter (work to obtain plenty of twitter followers to market your potential sponsor to, 500+ is ideal)
- Forums (Signatures are a great place to advertise, gain the respect of the community to gain more views)
- YouTube (A powerful way to reach your target audience)
- Live Stream (Possibly the most effective way to fill your server, website and youtube following, you can't beat live advertising)
- Facebook (A social media giant, if businesses spend thousands to advertise on it, it must work)

Okay so you have the basics to make sure you have a good enough foundation to make a proposal. All you need to do now is capture the numbers and write up a solid document to post or send.

Show and tell

You've got the knowledge on your prospective target. You know what you need to make a solid proposal. All you need to do now is make up a well constructed forum post or email to attract the attention of a sponsor. I will be the first to tell you, this is not fool proof but it has worked for me 4 times out of 4 so far. I'm confident that my way of doing things get's the job done. I've managed to secure a sponsor every year for the last 4 years. There's no reason you can't too.

Okay take a moment to digest the information you've put in to your brain here so far. Let's consider the fact that using this article you could actually get that kick ass server you wanted. My first sponsorship deal was for a 8GB server. It was perfect for our needs in our first year. The second year I went for a 10GB server. Amazing and lots of fun, the company owner actually became a very good friend of mine - You rock Travis! Third year we went for a 32GB dedicated server. We got it in 3 hours of advertising for a server host - "We'll never forget you Nitro!" This year I managed to get a 64Gb dedicated server for the largest project I've ever done.  This years proposal got me 6 interested businesses and I was in the fortunate position to choose the best of 3 - www.Titaniumhost.net we salute you!

Back to business. Your first port of call is to ensure you've got the numbers to hand of the followers, subscribers etc that you could offer as potential customers to the server hosting businesses. With this you should consider making a draft in a word document before posting it. This can help in so many ways. Not just to check for spelling mistakes but you can edit it as much as you want before posting it up. When designing your masterpiece keep this very important message in mind: If you create tension, you get resistance. If you create trust, you get response.

Keep the proposal very clean and simple. Don't overload the reader with too much information. Simply outline what you're looking for. Do a quick list of what you have to offer and thank them for their time.

One sugar or two?

Every deal needs a sweetener something that can tip the deal in their favor to give you the psychological leverage to close the deal. Don't forget the initial post/email is simply to open the door to a conversation. In my experience the first post doesn't generally get you a response of, "Okay we'll give you what you want" - It just doesn't happen.

What I mean by the "sweetener" is offering insurances or promises that could be agreed on to make the prospective sponsor more comfortable with doing business with you. These consist of website revenue share deals such as rank donation percentages that goes to the sponsor. A simple example of this is; a player purchases a rank for $20 and you give 50% to the sponsor. An easy way to manage this is to work out your income at the end of the week or month and give half to the sponsor for their support and generosity. If 50% seems to steep for you offer them 25% for the first 3 months and review it after that time.

A more comfortable insurance for them a "We pay if we don't deliver policy". Just pay them what the cost of the server would cost them after 3 months if you don't hit the number of customers they are looking for by that time. This means the customer will get their money one way or another. This kind of sweetener will make you work extra hard to gain them new customers to avoid paying the fee yourself. Be sure to set a realistic target with your sponsor before agreeing to this to make sure you're not stretching yourself. I recommend a target based on the cost of your server over 3 months. For example if it takes 30 customers to reach the value of your server over 3 months then you know what your target is for 3 months.

Meetings and Greetings

You should aim to encourage sponsors to add you on Skype to discuss your offer before closing any deals. Live conversation can help you to get to know the potential sponsor and give you the feeling you're dealing with a legitimate business. There are A LOT of one man bands (one person business) out there. Be sure they have been around for at least 6-12 months and have a good website and proof of customers. Don't get sucked in to being worked to death by someone who can't do any marketing for themselves. They will drive you insane with pressure and demand a lot more form you with a lot more risk. Not all one man bands are bad news. Just most are, is my opinion on the matter.

If you've done everything right you could get a Skype contact request in seconds. Not always a good thing to get one so quick to pin you down. They could be the desperate ones who have a debt on their doorstep to be paid and little hope of paying it without quick investment. However they could also be the people who find your idea simply appealing and want to crack on with business. The lesson is to keep your senses about you. Don't forget you are the one asking for something but that doesn't mean what you have to offer is worthless. Sound professional and stay positive.

Closing the deal

At this point you should be looking to close a deal with a prospective sponsor. You've done the groundwork and now it's time to agree on a server proposal. The job is not over! You need to get what you want from all this work. Remember if you want a big server, you're going to need to sell your offering and your sweeteners are going to help you get what you want. Understand the sponsors interest. They want money remember? The only way they are going to get it is with new customers. You could have the key to the door they want to open so make it count!

The person you are speaking to on Skype at this point is going to be the decision maker. They would have seen hundreds of proposals and had a lot of Skype meetings. You need to stand out with your proposal. Your sweeteners and your figures will hopefully get you what you want. Just be realistic.

Talk in realistic terms

A brand new website with 3 members, twitter with 30 followers and a YouTube channel with 150 subscribers will not get you a 32GB dedicated server. Make sure your numbers are healthy before wasting anyone's time. If you don't have the numbers - find them or go in to partnership with people who do. I had 1800 twitter follows a team of streamers and YouTube casters to help me secure a deal for 16GB dedicated this year. My sweeteners got me the deal. It was a well crafted deal that the sponsor agreed to not just the numbers. Be clever and be realistic.

Achieving your vision doesn't mean you've reached the end of the line. It simple means you've come to a new starting place. This simply means when you get the deal you wanted. Set yourself realistic goals and follow through with them to secure the sponsor for a long term relationship. Deliver the numbers!
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  • prof_Lucus
  • Level 15
  • Journeyman Mage
  • November 5, 2014, 10:36 pm
Really well written, another blog that should have been on the pop reel but somehow got pushed out just because some blog with a milked topic got there first >:(
  • UED_iRx
  • Level 26
  • Expert Artist
  • November 6, 2014, 3:04 am
prof_lucas, thank you for the kind comment - I just hope it helps someone, someday :)
  • Chetcat
  • Level 29
  • Expert Archer
  • January 19, 2014, 2:58 pm
This was remarkably well-written. I think I really learned from this, thanks for writing it. While I'll likely never be looking for a server sponsorship, this blog would definitely help anyone who was. One thing you should do is move it to the "Tutorials" subsection, as it is improperly placed.
  • UED_iRx
  • Level 26
  • Expert Artist
  • January 19, 2014, 4:13 pm
I still don't really know why I wrote it to be honest. However having read your response. I'm actually really happy that I did. I feel good about it, so thank you.

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