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Great Reads for Sponsorship Sales and Marketing Leaders

By Michael Kithcart

Learning and inspiration come from many sources. At Caravel Marketing, we often find ourselves recommending a variety of books, articles and podcasts based on conversations with clients. As we charted our growth for the coming year, we reflected on the resources we refer to or recommend again and again. We realized just how much we appreciate learning from complementing areas and finding ways to apply the knowledge.

As sponsorship sales and marketing leaders, you are pulled in many directions, often having to draw your own connections to ideas, revenue and excellence. These tools could be especially helpful for you. Here’s our guide on great reads:

Sponsorship Marketing

“Pinpoint: How Challenging the Norm is the Only Route to Success in Selling Sponsorship” By Jackie Fast
This book provides honest examples and six steps (do all of them!) that will make a big difference in how you or your team approaches sponsorship.

“The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit: Fourth Edition” By Kim Skildum-Reid
This is THE how-to guide for sponsorships, events, organizations and brands. It’s a great resource in helping you get the foundational elements right. And for updated thinking on sponsorship, check out Kim’s latest white paper, Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better.

“This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See” By Seth Godin
You could read any of Godin’s books and gain marketing knowledge, but his latest is our favorite. Sponsorship as a marketing strategy allows for making true connections—from engaging consumers at events to achieving multiple marketing objectives. Godin shares different ways it happens. It’s up to marketers to create the environments that make all the elements he discusses possible. This book is an accountability partner resource and serves as both a checklist for effective sponsorship and leadership.


“Sales EQ” By Jeb Blount
Sales is more than relationship-building. It includes having the emotional awareness to make connections, truly listen and take action. This is a practical application book that has proven to be spot-on in terms of actual sales situations and what is needed to create an honest approach toward growing relationships and sales. It could also go in the leadership category as it covers the importance of fostering psychological safety. Blount’s Sales Gravy newsletter is also a good resource.

“The Challenger Sale” By Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
This book demonstrates how changing the conversation can change everything. This is a particularly good resource for seasoned sales teams willing to examine the way they engage with clients, make tweaks and improve results. Gathering specific information and using it to provide insights is a key component. It opens up dialogue and enables you to get better information and challenge thinking, and it provides an opening for a different solution.

”To Sell is Human” By Daniel Pink
This book can be very useful in helping everyone realize that your organization is most likely a sales organization regardless of your event/cause/service. We all do it, even when sales isn’t in the job description. Daniel Pink explains intrinsic motivation and how it can make all the difference. We’re also currently working our way through his new book, “When.”


“Dare to Lead” By Brené Brown
Any of Brown’s books support becoming a more effective leader. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with her work, we suggest starting with “The Gifts of Imperfection.” “Dare to Lead” is specific to leading in today’s environments. It’s part “Crucial Conversations,” part demonstrating the difference between “armored” and “daring” leadership, and part encouragement that the ability to lead with courage is in all of us.

“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” By Marshall Goldsmith
This is a timeless guide—perhaps even more relevant now than when it was first written. Position changes and leadership of varying teams is happening at a faster clip; this means leaders need to quickly adjust to the skills and approaches required to be effective. This requires consistent examination of whether how you’re leading is providing the best environment for success. The truth is that oftentimes the very practices, approaches and language used to grow your career will no longer be sufficient in new roles. This book challenges leaders to expand and provides ways to do it.

“Principles” By Ray Dalio
This book provides great daily learnings along with life stories from the man who created the largest hedge fund in the world, which—at least initially—might make some not pick up the book. The “work principles” are what make us select this for leadership because it’s about successful ways of working together. It’s the building of team with thought-provoking principles and statements that won’t allow one to stay where they are, or continue to lead in the same way.

Continuous Improvement

“Smarter, Faster, Better” By Charles Duhigg
Everyone wants to have a choice—and creating choice greatly improves productivity. A key to success is making choices in certain ways. Duhigg provides eight ideas that seem most important in expanding productivity, based on research. This book is filled with engaging situations and examples and an great appendix with ways to put the ideas in to action.

“Atomic Habits” By James Clear
We’re currently reading and applying this one. If you liked Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit,” this is a good complement with even more actionable frameworks and exercises. Applicable to all parts of life, we especially like the exercise of visualizing a person who’s successful at what you want to accomplish and listing the actions that person takes to be successful. One key is focusing on taking those actions rather than setting an end goal. It gets you to action faster. Another key is to make the actions obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying.

“The Tim Ferriss Show” Podcast
Tim Ferriss has made a living being curious, interviewing people from all facets of life who are best at their craft and sharing his knowledge with the world. Sometimes the most meaningful takeaways come from the ones you’d least expect.

We’d like your thoughts on what books or podcasters you rely on for your professional growth. Please share!

About the author: Michael Kithcart is the chief strategy officer of Caravel Marketing. Throughout her career, Michael has transformed organizations, created divisions, organized start-ups and enhanced the effectiveness of individuals and teams. She is a leader in working with organizations to develop strategic initiatives that meet and exceed sponsorship sales goals.