Event sponsorship is a great way to spread word of your company, product or service without actually having to plan an event. Essentially, you are able to piggyback on an existing event, leveraging their plan to market yourself. For the most part, it’s a simple investment of funds in exchange for marketing. If it’s done right, this type of event can be a great way to reach a wide range of people you’d never be able to on your own.
Did you know that event sponsorship spending has been constantly growing over the course of the past few years? So it’s no surprise that many companies and corporations are interested in sponsoring events, especially events that are fresh, new and out of the box. Your goal is to plan an event that would be attractive to sponsors due to the fact that it will likely draw in the people they want to reach.
The first step, obviously, is planning the event. Most of your time and effort should go into organising an event that will bring in the people you want to reach with your product or message. Find the marketing and promotion methods that will reach your target audience and focus on that aspect of the event until you’re sure you’ve got it just right.
Once you have the attendees in place, it’s time to turn your attention to the sponsors. Here are a few tips on how to get sponsorship for an event:
Determining Your Audience
Before you can figure out who you’re going to pitch event sponsorship to, you have to know the audience of your event. This means going over your guest list (or “ideal” guest wish list) and seeing what type of people you’re marketing to.
Let’s say you’re hosting an event to launch a brand new sports energy drink. Your target market is likely going to be primarily active men and women in their 20s-40s.
Once you know what YOUR target audience will be, it’s time to think about what types of companies and brands would also want to target that audience. For example:
- A company that sells sports apparel would be a great sponsor or partner for the event
- A company that sells retirement services would NOT be a great sponsor
Your goal is to find sponsors that will want to market to your target audience. To do that, you need to be sure you know who your target audience is. Only then can you target your sponsorship requests to the companies and corporations that will be likely to work with you for your event. Determining the target audience can be demanding, but there are excellent resources that can come in handy in the process.
Understand the Types of Sponsors
There are a number of different types of sponsors you can work with when planning your event:
- Media partners. These are media outlets that will help to spread the word of your event and will elevate your event exposure.
- Venue partners. These are venues and locations that may offer to host your event, using your event as a means of drawing more people to their location.
- Cash sponsors. These people will provide finances to cover expenses, increase exposure, and provide the customised experience you want to create. They will do so in return for marketing and exposure of their own.
- Prize sponsors. Some companies (such as car dealerships or electronics manufacturers) will offer items you can use as prizes. They do so to put their product in a highly desirable position (everyone wants to win), thus engendering positive association with their product.
These are all types of sponsors you can work with to increase the effectiveness, reach, and funding of your event.
Not all sponsors have to be “all-in” for the event! In fact, you want to ensure that your product or service is the one featured most prominently. If you have too many sponsors with a high level of investment, it could dilute the effectiveness of your brand message.
Instead, you should set levels of sponsorship. This will allow the various companies you pitch to choose the amount of involvement they want to have in the event, and will make it easier for you to keep the sponsorship in check.
Sponsorship levels may include:
- Featured advertisements in the event flyers or materials
- Publicity in your online marketing
- Visibility in your event banner and décor
- “Title sponsorship”
- Sponsoring a dinner table, with each person at that table receiving a promotional item
- Featured advertisement in the newsletter
This gives potential sponsors options of how much they want to be involved, and how much they’re willing to commit.
Find Cost-Reducing Sponsors
There are two types of sponsors that can help to reduce your costs:
- Municipality or Community Associations – These are organizations that can offer you the discounted rates usually offered to NGOs and non-profit organizations in exchange for publicity.
- Barter partners – Venues, caterers, and other services may offer to reduce costs or even provide services for free in exchange for promotional opportunities.
It’s worth looking into this type of partner, as they can help you save money on your event and free up finances for other aspects of the marketing and promotions.
Draw Up a List of Assets
You need to know what you’re offering sponsors. This includes:
- Concrete assets – On-site activities, marketing, and expected attendance; the media and marketing value of your event, and the potential for lead generations via your mailing and email lists.
- Intangible assets – Prestige, brand recognition, popularity, the potential for other future events, retail tie-ins, discounts and sales promotions.
When you know what you have to offer, it’s easier to provide potential sponsors with a clear list of what they can expect to gain from their sponsorship of your event.
Create a Proposition Package
Before you start cold calling and pitching to any potential sponsors, it’s important to prepare a sponsorship proposition package. This includes a list of sponsorship levels, as well as the four P’s:
- Participants, or how many guests you expect to attend
- Parameters, or limits on the event sponsorship opportunities.
- Promotions, or how you intend to promote the event and your partners/sponsors.
- Partners, what other partners you have signed with.
This package will go out to all the sponsors who agree to consider working with you, and it will be a simple, clear way for them to understand exactly what they can expect. Here’s a list of items and steps that can help you a great deal in putting the package together.
Draft a Short, Simple Pitch
You need to have a pitch ready for people who meet and contact, so it’s worth taking a few hours to sit down and craft a short, simple pitch that tells potential sponsors everything they need to know, in a few sentences. This will be much harder than you think, but it’s the best way to be prepared in case sponsors ask for “the bottom line” or an elevator pitch.
Do Your Research
It’s worth learning about the companies, corporations, and organisations you intend to pitch sponsorship to, what their target audience and brand values are, their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals, and their sponsorship guidelines. That way, when you pitch the sponsorship opportunity to them, you’ll be prepared to pitch them something they’d be interested in.
Prepare to Sell
Sponsorship isn’t something all companies and organizations will consider. In fact, most of the time, you’re going to have to try to “sell yourself” to the company or organisation to convince them to sponsor you. Go into the pitch with the mindset of a salesperson and you’ll have a much better chance for success. It’s all about letting them know how working with you will benefit THEM!
Your board members, company executives and event committee members are all valuable resources you can use to find potential sponsors. All of them have personal and professional relationships with a wide range of people. If you’re smart, you’ll take advantage of those relationships to find sponsors.
Triple Check Everything!
If a company has invested in event sponsorship, you’d better deliver on your promises!
While no one can guarantee attendance, social reach, or popularity, the least you can do is ensure that your sponsors’ logos and products are placed with sufficient prominence. You have made an agreement to promote them, so you need to honour your deal.
Build a Relationship
Working with sponsors shouldn’t be a one-time thing. If the event is a success, you have delivered on your promises to your sponsors, and thus they will be more likely to want to work with you in the future. Build a personal and professional relationship with them, and you may be able to find sponsors more easily for your next event.
Finding the right type of sponsors is vital for a successful event. This means not only finding partners who are investing financially, but who can provide you with the products and services that will make your event truly memorable.
What did you think of these tips? Do you have any more advice to make event sponsorship work? Leave a comment below and let us know…