Sponsorship is the backbone of event planning. Not only does it secure the financial success of the event, but also showcases corporate and community support.
Creating a list of ideal sponsors
Not every company is right to sponsor every event.
For example, a donut shop may not be the best fit for a bodybuilding competition.
Local businesses that are more closely aligned to your type of event are always easier to secure as sponsors. Instead of trying to cold call everyone in the area, target your efforts to specific companies, so that you are using your time more wisely and hearing “yes” much more than “no.” Before you begin with contacting the potential sponsors, create a list of those that you believe will be the best fit for your event. You have to also determine the different levels of sponsorship (more on that later.) The list should reflect different potential sponsors at different levels.
For events in the for-profit as well as the non-profit sector, determining what services or products your attendees will be interested in should give you a great start to developing your list. Every event, no matter how large or small, represents a niche group that a business will want to identify as customers. If you understand this, you will have no difficulty in developing your call list of ideal sponsorship candidates and turning them into positive and enthusiastic sponsors.
If you organize a conference for event planners and event managers, a company offering event management software (like Meetingbox) would be a perfect fit for sponsorship. You could offer placement on the check-in booth, on your event app or through other signage.
Communicating with potential sponsors
Once you have identified your ideal sponsors, it is crucial to connect with them in a meaningful way to discuss the sponsorship opportunity. Depending on the type of event you are hosting, you must determine the level of salesmanship you’ll need to have, but regardless of what kind of event you are hosting, your potential sponsors will need to see the value in it for their business. Make sure that when speaking with a sponsorship candidate, you can explain the details of your event as they relate to their company or organization. According to Eve Gumpel with Entrepreneur, describing your demographic is key. If you are talking to a store that sells video games and game systems about sponsoring a gaming event, it makes sense to talk about the data as it relates to that demographic.
How many people are expected to be in attendance? What type of exposure will they receive as a sponsor? Will there be a lot of media coverage? These are all critical questions that your sponsorship candidate will ask you.
Communicating how you will put their logo and company name in front of all the participants and their circle of influence is the most important detail to share with them.
Creating a sponsorship proposal
You can’t just tell about the event and how perfect the match is and expect that companies will start throwing money at you. They need to see numbers and real information about how this will impact their company. Forbes discusses the importance of connecting a robust social media following to a sponsorship proposal.
Companies are scrambling to boost their social media presence to attract younger customers. Even beyond young customers, social media has a way to quickly opening-up a market in a kind of “fast-paced word-of-mouth” way.
If you can boast a specific number of social media followers tied to your event and/or organization, you will get their attention. Other measurable metrics like the number of ticket sales or registrations from last year (or the current number to date,) and information about the average age of attendees is also essential when making your proposal.
Putting together the right sponsorship packages
Not everything is one-size-fits-all in the world of event planning. You have to know the size of the companies you are going after for sponsorship and recognize where they put their advertising and marketing dollars. If you are a non-profit organization, it makes it an easier sell for them to combine advertising with charitable giving. Nevertheless, every business has a different budget, and you need to have different levels of sponsorship packages to accommodate them all. As discussed above, offering different levels of sponsorship is the smart approach to widen your reach.
Start with a base level that includes their brand name on all promotional materials. You will have to determine the base level depending upon your event fundraising goals. Higher levels should offer more exposure in more visible ways. If your event is a type of conference, higher tiers should include more prominent booth placement and signage. Perhaps you’ll give them a speaking opportunity?
If you are hosting a conference for event professionals (as in our example), a higher level of sponsorship may include inviting a representative from the company as a speaker or even naming one of the halls in the event venue after the sponsor.
Setting a limit of how many sponsorship packages are available in the top tiers can also be a great sign of exclusivity to your sponsorship candidate so that they won’t feel too crowded in that space.
Closing the deal
After all the discussion about demographics and other data, no matter how well you have crafted your proposal, you still have to ask for the sponsorship. For larger fish in the sponsorship sea, you won’t want to rush the question of if they will give you money or not. The site Faster to Master summarizes the points found in the famous Dale Carnegie book How to Win Friends and Influence People. In the book, Carnegie talks about the importance of asking people that you are trying to influence lots of questions that allow them to talk about themselves and their business.
They are probably used to being asked for money. Give them the opportunity to talk about what they do in their business.
When they see the connection and understand the value it will bring them and their company, that is the right moment to ask for the sponsorship level you are seeking. Do it confidently and don’t talk yourself and them out of the sponsorship. If you want them for a specific level of sponsorship, stick to that, unless they indicate they want to back down to a lower level.
Regardless of the type or size of your event, sponsorship is one of the best ways to increase revenue and develop a great partnership with targeted corporate sponsors. Remember that creating a list of appropriate sponsors that are related to the type of event is the first and very important step. Next, you need to communicate the details of the event and why they are well suited as a sponsor. Putting together a proposal that includes them as a sponsor and what they can expect from this deal will secure their interest. Remember to share the different levels of sponsorship and always ask for their sponsorship confidently. If you put these pieces of the puzzle in place, you should expect to see great returns and new strategic partnerships with your event.