Designing a “Sponsorship” program is very similar to designing an “Incentives” program within an organization. Humans are human! We like engagement, competition, winning rewards and laughing at our challenges. These tips might help you loosen up your creative design talents and develop intriguing, rewarding sponsorship programs for your valued sponsors — and your event attendees.

1. Consider the Goals and Outcomes of Individuals

Be very clear about what it is you want each group of people participating to be able to do or accomplish at your event or meeting. Identify exactly what participants should do to meet their goals and make it easy to accomplish those objectives.

2. Propose Incremental Objectives to Sponsors

When your events are new or growing — and are below industry standards or targets or are rank low among peers, they are less likely to be motivated to sponsor your events. Consider proposing incremental attendance targets as well as shooting for a specific end result — such as visibility or number of contacts who provide contact information.

3. Make Sponsorships Visible

Sponsorship success really depends upon a great deal of visibility. Think about national lotteries and the power behind those thermometers of measurable numbers. Present your sponsorships as valuable goals for your Attendees to help achieve.

4. Consider ‘Status Power’

Draw upon the power of status — job titles, endorsements, achievements, etc. — to elevate the prestige of the sponsor in the eyes of Attendees. Criteria and kudos must obviously be documented, transparent and fair.

5. Focus on Goal Commitment

For any sponsorship program to have appeal and purpose, the target goal must be meaningful and motivational to the majority of individuals involved. Strive for collaborative interaction so mutually beneficial commitment is possible.

6. Make Competition Part of Your Sponsorship Program

Interaction, such as peer pressure and competition are powerful elements when designing sponsorship programs that achieve measurable success. Design performance targets that are challenging enough and in which the rewards offered are desired by the majority of people.

7. Establish Rules of Conduct

Earning rewards or incentives can create a gaming environment that encourages competition — but competition can become manipulative. Establish ethical standards and rules that are evenly enforced to ensure appropriate practices for everyone involved.

8. Create Multiple Program Levels in Sponsored Activities

Consider multiple levels of rewards for various levels of performance and provide clear communications about minimum performance levels for participation and winning rewards.

9. Use Non-numerical Measures

Use qualitative measures to develop customer satisfaction and help focus on long term results versus short term fixes. Build valuable business relationships in which Attendees and Sponsors can help each other solve problems or pursue opportunities together.

10. Leverage Risk

By increasing the number of participants you can expand the promotional budget. But if high quality contacts are the goal, consider a winner-takes-all approach or reduce the number of winners and increase the value of rewards offered by Sponsors.


This article is based on tips for “Incentive marketing” by
“Incentive” magazine columnist Roy Saunderson, Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right.