John: I want to get into the process, you know exactly how that works because I think it’s a pretty innovative approach to marketing or calling yourself an agency. We were doing local sponsorships as a marketing effort for a client. Basically we just had this idea for a client like hey, what if you did local sponsorships in some cities that you’re trying to get attention in. In our work to find them local sponsorships we also looked for a particular local non profit in the very close area of some of these stores that really matched with their target demographics and really would be just a great recipient of these funds. For them, it’s like a lot of these stores, they’re brick and mortar stores so they do get people coming in a lot saying hey, will you sponsor our organization. We’re talking to them about sponsorships and what kind of sponsorships they have and would they be interested in working with this particular client, if all is good then we match them. Then based on what our particular client is looking for in that area, they put some of them in a list that we present to the client and say hey, these are the organizations of all the ones that we talked to that we really think are the best fit for you. Where do people kind of put this? It kind of depends on, we’ve varied it a lot with different clients for what works for particular clients, what works for us. Megan: Yeah, John thank you so much for having me.
John Jatsch: For national companies trying to infiltrate the local market the community organizations may be the best and last frontier. On this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I speak with Megan Hannay. She is the co-founder and CEO of ZipSprout dot com that is doing a very innovative take on helping organizations wherever they are matched with local nonprofit and community organizations as a way to create marketing partnerships, a very, very innovative approach, check it out. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Megan Hannay. She is the co-founder and CEO of ZipSprout dot com. Megan, thanks for joining us.
Megan Hannay: Yeah, thank you for having me. You got my last name right on the first try, which not everyone does. That’s many points for you.
John: Years of doing this, this was an easy one.
John: Right off the bat, tell us what ZipSprout is.
Megan: Sure, we are an agency although we have some tech components as well. We work to match our clients who are businesses, sometimes they’re local regional businesses and sometimes they’re national brands or international brands. We connect them with local sponsorship opportunities in cities across the US and Canada. We help match them with non profits, events and associations that they can sponsor and reap marketing benefits on the local end.
John: I want to get into the process, you know exactly how that works because I think it’s a pretty innovative approach to marketing or calling yourself an agency. I’m curious, what was the genesis of the idea? Were you sitting around one day saying what’s kind of a cool new innovative way we can actually go to market? Was there a non profit that you did this for and went, hey this is an idea?
Megan: Yeah, actually the impetus for ZipSprout came from the agency side. I was working for ZipSprout’s parent company which is a company called Citation Labs. We were doing local sponsorships as a marketing effort for a client. Basically we just had this idea for a client like hey, what if you did local sponsorships in some cities that you’re trying to get attention in. I took on that project. It was so interesting. We started in San Diego and just speaking to all the local organizations in San Diego and how eager so many people were, I felt like yeah, I’ll take a business sponsor, hey I’ll work with you.
People were very eager, they were very flexible and they were just fun to work with. I worked with [Garret French 00:03:04] who is the CEO of Citation Labs and we were like this could be a lot bigger. That was December of 2015, November, December and around March of 2016 we hired a few people to help build out ZipSprout to do more cities so it would available for more clients and it’s just been growth since then. Yeah, it started as a project that we realized once we got into it, there was so much more in that space and no one was really doing quite what we were doing that we could find. We just got excited about it.
John: I have actually written about this as a marketing tactic in my first two books. Not obviously the platform that you built but just this idea of the implied referral of getting involved with a community organization and the fact that you run a special and promote that non profit, they have a real, great motivation to promote you and your products to their boards and volunteers and donors. Not in a way that’s taking advantage of look at me, I’m doing good work, it’s just such a great kind of win win.
Megan: Yeah, actually the thing is like you said I don’t think the idea of doing sponsorships is a new idea at all. I can’t take credit for that. I think a lot of times when especially larger companies try to do local sponsorships it just becomes difficult when they’re trying to scale it. There’s so many organizations to get in touch with and so many details to worry about that I think sometimes even the companies that are doing it don’t always do it the best way or don’t really find great ways to work with local organizations. I agree, I think it can be a way that’s a win win for both the local organization and the business as well. It’s definitely not a way of trying to take advantage of local organizations. We talked to a lot of organizations that are actually very eager for business sponsors especially because for them it’s just another way to earn revenue, to help do local good.
John: I always found because I used to do this with all of my clients, I always found that the best sponsorships were really partnerships. That it wasn’t just like here’s somebody we can give some money to and put our name on. It was like how can we help their mission, how can we get involved in their events, how can we create volunteer opportunities. Are you able in a sort of platform approach if you will, are you able to kind of really go deep enough to know who the two players are that you’re partnering?
Megan: Yeah, it really depends on the client. We’ve done things that are more big picture with some clients. Then we have some clients that really want to go more detailed like you’re talking about. We’re working with one client, it hasn’t launched yet so I can’t mention the client but they’re opening, they’re doing some grand opening of stores in a couple of towns, it’s actually reopening. The store closed and it’s now reopening. They wanted to build a lot of buzz around it. In their grand reopenings they wanted to give some of the profit from this event, the grand reopening event to a local non profit. In our work to find them local sponsorships we also looked for a particular local non profit in the very close area of some of these stores that really matched with their target demographics and really would be just a great recipient of these funds.
We’re kind of building that relationship for them in addition to finding some regular sponsorship opportunities. It’s worked out really well. For them, it’s like a lot of these stores, they’re brick and mortar stores so they do get people coming in a lot saying hey, will you sponsor our organization. It’s not like they don’t have anyone to sponsor. For them it’s often because they’re getting people coming to them, they don’t see the whole big picture of the community. There might be some great organizations who just aren’t thinking of coming to them, who might be right down the street who they may never have heard of and not know to donate to. We’re kind of able to get that big picture look and say hey, these guys over here are actually just a perfect match for you.
John: Do you have, I’m going to call them local scouts in some fashion in those cities? Non profit landscape is sort of a political landmine and you kind of have to know who’s who and what’s what. How do you kind of figure out the lay of the land in a local community?
Megan: Sure, yeah well we’re getting there. I would definitely say that’s true. We found that every city has it’s own personality when it comes to organizations. We’re all based out of one area. The team is all based out of Raleigh Durham, North Carolina where I am. We have match makers. The team of match makers, basically their job every month or every few months, a match maker takes on a new location and does just kind of outreach to as many local organizations as we can find in that location.
We do emails. We do phone calls. With all of our matches we establish a relationship ourselves before we match them with a client. We’re getting in touch with organizations. We’re talking to them about sponsorships and what kind of sponsorships they have and would they be interested in working with this particular client, if all is good then we match them. We…