Event sponsors are of high importance to event budgets and therefore highly affect the overall attendee experience and the overall success of the event. However, event organizers still find it difficult to secure long-lasting relationships with event sponsors. Finding, pitching, and keeping event sponsors is not a gamble – it’s a process that event organizers need to carefully prepare for.
Finding a sponsor can be like trying to get hired for a job. Some of your proposals will be rejected or get no response at all. Sponsors need to feel like they can trust event organizers to deliver on their promises and meet sponsorship objectives.
Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to make your event a more attractive sponsorship opportunity.
The first question you need to ask yourself before going in search of a sponsor is:
DOES MY EVENT NEED A SPONSOR?
For many events, sponsorship is the key to powerful marketing. In addition, also raising funds. Having one or more event sponsors can open up opportunities for:
Building brand awareness
Increasing sales numbers
Improving brand image
All in all, there is also a lot to be gained from this type of strategic partnership. But not every event needs a sponsorship to be successful. You don’t even need it to achieve the benefits listed (although it really does help a whole lot).
So how do you know if your event really NEEDS to have them? Here’s how to tell:
Your event is very large and/or high profile, with celebrity speakers or guests. Media sponsorship assures that your event will get ample coverage.
Your event goals require expensive or additional budget items not already accounted for in allocated funds. If your goal is to expand your brand’s image in the tech industry, having special extras like a mobile app will help you stand out as an industry leader.
You need help figuring out a major planning component like venue, transportation, or catering: Hotels, transportation companies, and even local restaurants can contribute their goods and services to events that either can’t afford it or haven’t been able to find an alternative that would work for them.
Your event is brand new or your brand needs to build its industry cred. Having sponsorships from established companies in your field is the best kind of testimonial. It shows they support what you’re doing which really helps influence people to register.
Obviously, there are lots of reasons why big and small events need sponsors. On the contrary to popular belief, finding one doesn’t have to be really hard or difficult. In fact, all it takes is a little research and an understanding of what sponsors are best for your unique event.
So, let’s explore how to find event sponsors and how to keep them!
FINDING THE RIGHT EVENT SPONSORS :
Before you begin your search for the perfect event sponsor, you have to clearly define your event goals and know your event strategy inside out. That way, you can search for an event sponsorship partner that aligns with the purpose and vision of your event. Event sponsors will likely ask you about the purpose of your event, the demographics and psychographics of your attendees, and how their brand fits into your event. And vice versa – event organizers should prepare questions for sponsors too and assess whether they fit their ideal sponsor persona.
KEY POINTS TO NOTE:
Let’s say, you’re planning a digital marketing conference, Hubspot might be a great fit, while it would make very little sense to reach out to Red Bull, GmbH or Southwest Airlines.
Think about your attendees. Who are they and which brands would they like to see as your event sponsors? Choose brands that share their core values with your audience. Research shows that 70% of consumers prefer buying from companies with similar principles as theirs.
Who has sponsored events similar to yours? Do some market research. Find events in your industry and see who their event sponsorship partners are. Those brands who’ve sponsored similar events before are far more likely to sponsor an event again.
It might be tempting to play the number’s game and reach out to as many companies as possible, but it’s far more likely that you’ll find the right event sponsor and long-term event success if you approach brands that truly make sense for your event. It might take more time, but it will pay off eventually.
PITCHING A POTENTIAL SPONSOR:
Before pitching potential event sponsors, event planners and organizers need to know their brand well. Prepare an event sponsorship proposal letter, define various event sponsorship packages/levels, find decision-makers in the company, and reach out to them directly. Your proposal has to stand out. After all, the company likely reviews proposals like yours almost daily. So why should the company sponsor your event over other opportunities
KEY POINTS TO NOTE:
Be specific in your sponsorship proposal: outline the benefits for the event sponsor. What can you offer in return for their financial help? Is it increased brand exposure, lead generation, or data insights into your audience?
Communication is key. Highlight your USPs (unique selling points) and give insights into your event’s audience. To nurture more trust, include solutions for worst-case scenarios, such as low attendance at in-person events or cancellation of the event.
Support your claims with past event data. Sponsors will want to know how you measure and prove event ROI. Event platforms are a great source of data insights, which you can then include in your sponsor pitch.
Let event sponsorship opportunities come to you:
If you’re always on the lookout for sponsors, set up a page on your website, dedicated solely to sponsorships. For example, IHRSA’s sponsorship website outlines various sponsorship opportunities for events, research, and content. You can also include such a website in your sponsorship pitch, letting sponsors know you’re well-prepared to make them whole.
KEEPING AN EVENT SPONSOR:
Once you successfully get sponsors for your event, that’s when the real work begins. The more effort that went into finding and pitching event sponsors, the better match they will be. That translates into more chances of you keeping your event sponsorship partners and establishing year-long sponsorships (and beyond!).
KEY POINTS TO NOTE:
Promote your event sponsors before and after the event:
Let your attendees know who your sponsors are and what role they play at your event. Highlight them before the event by giving them shoutouts on social media and featuring them prominently on your event app or event platform. By implementing the community model on your platform, organizers can give sponsors more value throughout the entire year rather than just at the event itself.
Sponsors are not an afterthought:
Include your sponsors in the event planning process and make them an organic part of your event rather than an afterthought. Event sponsors who are represented well at events are more likely to sponsor future events. You can incentivize attendees to interact with sponsors through gamification and do everything in your power to ensure event sponsorship objectives are met.
Plan a post-event debrief:
After the event, it’s time to do a follow-up with event sponsors. Compile key metrics that show the value your event provided them. Include data about the potential sponsorship reach and tie that into the demographic information of attendees.
Sponsorship opportunities can stretch well beyond the event itself if you’re nurturing a community on your event platform. Let your sponsors know that you can expose your audience to their content and brand all year round.
Sponsorship Can Be A Long-Lasting Partnership:
Event sponsorship is a partnership for both parties. Events and conferences are a powerful way for brands to get exposure and establish themselves as major players in their industry. So, define your event goals well and build an event strategy that includes event sponsorship opportunities in seamless, holistic ways.