Event sponsors provide a massive portion of an organization’s resources and momentum that’s necessary for creating successful and possibly profitable events. Event sponsors don’t simply finance- that’s not giving them enough credit. The right sponsors for your event will elevate the authority and message your brand has with your target audience.
That being said, sponsors (especially the higher-value ones) can be a challenge to acquire and even more difficult to please. When you land the perfect event sponsor, everything falls into place and you begin to understand that the effort is worth the impact they have on your event.
Event sponsors that reflect your brand and its mission, adds value, and attracts your target audience do exist- it just takes some work. Here are the 10 things you should keep in mind while choosing sponsors for your event:
- On-Brand Notoriety
Possibly the most important thing to take into consideration when you’re trying to acquire quality event sponsors is to make sure that their brand truly reflects your organization’s values.
This should be done before you even pick up the phone or email a prospect. Take the time to study desired sponsors and learn what their values, mission, and target audience is.
When you choose an event sponsor that brings on-brand notoriety, it’s like selecting a temporary business partner. It’s vital that both parties share interests and are able to mutually benefit from the event itself.
You should work hard to make sure that you fit a sponsor’s brand as it is equally as important as them fitting your brand. Be sure to take the time to capitalize on the target audience that your sponsor brings in- in order to make the event successful for both event sponsor and event organizer, the brand alignment has to make sense to everyone involved.
If you land an event sponsor that doesn’t perfectly align with your brand, don’t worry. This may provide you an opportunity to expose your brand to an entirely new audience. Brand exposure isn’t measured only by event attendees.
If you really want to grow your brand awareness, find an event sponsor that has a strong online presence. Their audience will carry a lot of legwork for you.
Your brand is capable of competing in other markets and industries- don’t shy away from the opportunity to expose it to markets that may make sense. Your business may just gain more market share than you ever thought it would.
- Event Objectives
Once you’ve secured a phone call with your prospective sponsor, it’s time to clearly articulate the objectives of your event in detail. This sets expectations and avoids any misunderstanding come event day.
The message of your organization’s event must be as clear as your brand. Clearly explain what you’re selling, telling, or sharing with your target audience. If you can do this, the right sponsor will add the shine you need to make for a successful event.
The slightest conflict in messaging can cast a shadow on the intentions of your event. By far the easiest way around this is to reach out to established businesses and companies within your organization’s ecosystem.
- When It just Isn’t Right
Some companies are keen to sponsor your event for the brand awareness it brings- they don’t really want to put any effort into the relationship. This may feel like easy money at the time, but this form of sponsorship isn’t guaranteed to build the strength of your brand and may even cause it harm.
It’s important to find event sponsors who are genuinely interested in your brand and the audience you reach.
- Sponsorships Are A Mutually Beneficial Partnership
Knowing the things you should be looking for in the perfect event sponsor is actually much less difficult than actually closing a deal with them. The first thing to remember is that sponsorship isn’t philanthropy, it’s a business arrangement. Confidently articulate the benefits that potential sponsors are actually getting from your event.
If you’re not prepared to acquire 100% sponsorship, you can orchestrate a minimum risk solution for your event. By offering a sponsor their own booth, allowing them to invite a guest speaker and offering to apply their logo on a promotional item, you may be able to establish a long-term relationship with a sponsor for years to come.
- Don’t Swear Off Sponsors From Similar Events
It’s becoming more and more difficult to retain event sponsorship relationships. Every year, organizers are recognizing that event sponsor retention rates are slipping. This means you should pay special attention to the sponsors who are already working with events in or related to your organization’s ecosystem.
These are seasoned brands that already understand the inherent value of sponsoring events in this particular niche and they’re more likely to keep investing in events- they already know it benefits them well.
- Let Your Target Market Decide
With all the research you’ve done on your target audience, you already know what they’re interested in, social media accounts they follow, and brands that your audience is already aligned with and loves.
Reaching out to the companies they’re already familiar with is a win for all parties involved. For attendees, seeing a brand name they know and love on a sponsor list can add to the overall event experience. It helps them feel interconnected to the ecosystem of brands and values that are built around them.
- What Incentives To Add?
In order for the very nature of the relationship to work, event sponsorship has to be a give-and-take relationship. Sponsors want as much as they can get for their dollar- understandably so. So it’s on you to describe what your sponsors will get out of funding your event.
Here’s a few ways to help make the deal a bit sweeter:
- Give the prospect a free booth
- Place their name or logo on promotional items
- Mention the sponsoring company in blog posts, email marketing, and social posts.
- Give event swag to the customers who interact with the sponsor’s company.
- Grow Relationships With Established Companies
When your organization is in the early-stage startup era of its history, it might not yet have the brand recognition to attract the event sponsors you want yet. Don’t let this discourage you. Instead, reach out to other companies in your industry and partner up to make a more powerful event production.
When prospective sponsors see more established brands copying up to the event, it could cause them to have second thoughts. Now they are confident in your event- so you may have a fresh new line of sponsors waiting to hear back. Not only that, but it may be able to draw a bigger event turnout as well.
- Do Your Homework
Before you even reach out to a prospective event sponsor, make sure you’ve done your research on each one. Scan the news for things like:
- Has your prospect been involved in any events recemtly?
- Has there been major changes to the company recently?
- Is the sponsor’s business affected by significant current events?
- Are they launching any new products?
You can capitalize on these pivotal moments for a company by mentioning them in your event sponsorship proposal and even possibly incorporating it into the event itself, if relevant. If your prospective sponsor just released a new product, you can help bring awareness to the new product at your event.
When you reach out to the sponsor, you would be amiss if you didn’t sell your event as an opportunity for them to put any new products on center stage and attract new customers and markets.
Event sponsorship acquisition is truly an art among men (and women). Time is probably your most important tool in your arsenal, if you’ve done things right.
- When it comes to approaching event sponsorship as a long term task on your event timeline, start early. Working through the ranks of the decision maker is a painstaking process that requires your patience, but waiting to speak with the person who makes the decisions at a prospective sponsor company is worth the effort.
- You should always show that you care about the prospective sponsor’s time. Short emails and short meetings communicate that you respect prospects as busy professionals.
- Knowing when to approach prospects is incredibly important as well. May, June, and September tend to be the best months since sales are at their highest during these times of the year.
On the flip side, December, November, July and August are the worst times of year to approach prospective sponsors.
Stay Confident When Pitching Potential Sponsors
At the end of the day, prospective sponsor companies are businesses. They are not nonprofit organizations- so expect them to want something in return for funding your event.
Always work towards being an effective communicator that clearly articulates what makes your organization’s event worth the marketing spend to your potential sponsors. With a little confidence when you approach sponsors, you might just hear back from them.