Sponsors can strengthen your event by providing working capital early, helping get the word out and assistance with production of the event. Securing a sponsor is harder than you may think because many sponsors have a sophisticated criteria for evaluating potential event value. Event organizers must provide a mixture of a) an irresistible sponsorship offer b) creative sponsor visibility and c) relationship building between the two organizations.

Selling the Event Sponsorship

The only reason a business will give you money based on a simple request is that they need last minute expenses for tax season (and that depends on their corporate fiscal year – which is difficult is track) – so it’s better to put a solid marketing case together for your events and work your plan.

Putting your sales strategy together works best with a bit of role playing – an “Attendee”, a “Buyer” and a “Seller” to answer the tough questions about the value of your event. To create an “irresistible” sponsorship offer, you need to design the event itself to be sponsor-friendly, attendee-friendly and host-friendly.

Here are a few questions that help you creatively construct the event for both attendee and sponsor benefits. Create event elements that add value for all the stakeholders.

  • What’s in it for me? (The old W.I.I.F.M. fomula)
  • How many people will you have vs. similar events?
  • What is unique (and better) about your event vs. similar events?
  • How will the Sponsor be able to directly engage the attendees at your event?
  • What kind of results could your Attendees and Sponsors see after the event?
  • Is the event appealing to the Sponsor? Location? Venue? Seasonality? Etc.
  • Do the Attendees fit the Sponsor’s target audience?
  • And does the Sponsor bring value to your Attendees? What value… specifically?

You can add elements to your event that will strengthen the VALUE to each of your participants by answering these questions with action – with display space, with special offers by the Sponsor for your Attendees… with door prize drawing, educational seminars, etc.

Everybody – Attendees, Sponsors and Event Organizers are all looking for VALUE. They deal in value. They weigh value of one opportunity against another and have limited resources (dollars, time, vendor spots, etc) and want to get something MORE more easily than somewhere else. What differs is HOW MUCH value you provide.

Value currency for Sponsors is labeled “branding” and “awareness” for some and others might need to establish “authority.” Each of these value types require different kinds of engagement – some need to speak from the stage… some need handshakes with interested prospects… some need splash and dazzle to break through a cluttered field of competitors. Ask your Sponsors what their challenge is… and what works best for them. Then find creative ways to provide them with solutions to their frustration … and value for their sale and marketing efforts.

Planning the Event Sponsorship

Turning your research about what your Sponsors, Attendees and Event Organizer Management want to get out of their effort, you’re able to set up criteria for selecting event strategies that provide the MOST value.

Some standard event tools available to achieve your goals include:

  • Display tables
  • Banner ads on the event website
  • Social media posts

Some additional creative tools include:

  • Characters in costume with smart phone photo ops for Attendees. These tend to get posted on YouTube, Pinterest and blogs.
  • Live entertainment that engages Attendees and focuses on the Sponsor’s “value”.
  • Oversize demo displays (think automobiles, office layout, etc) that allows multi-sensory memory building
  • Movie promotion scale, 3-D posters that can be displayed around the room and raffled off.

Yes, there are additional costs for these creative Sponsorship elements, but they sure attract more attention and good will than a fishbowl on a table – and your Sponsors know it! They know they will be remembered for the Value they deliver to your Attendees!

Selling the Sponsorship to your Event Sponsor(s)

It’s best to take the “money” completely out of the plan as you are innovating your sponsorship program. Think “value” instead. Talk “value”. Show “value”. Measure “value.” Businesses understand value based on the numbers of individuals they will meet, and on the depth of that contact – will they have the opportunity to “demo” their wares? Will they get complete contact information? Will they build a relationship with these prospects, and will your group’s prestige rub off on them by associating with you?

It’s also important to think long term – think about having a company agree to sponsoring your events for a full year… not just one-time. Think through that option in case they ask about it. Think about building an on-going “vendor” relationship that makes you partners in creating true value for your members or attendees. Then plan event sponsorship to build that longterm achievement – step by step. And share your vision with prospective sponsors – understanding that they need to test the waters before they commit, but that they also appreciate knowing that longterm value is a possibility. Marketing builds momentum with multiple exposures, and if you have a good match between your people and their solution – you have the perfect setup for building momentum together.

Find the Best Companies to Approach

Find companies who value eye-to-eye, experiential marketing and who have the right kind of B-2-B or consumer products or services for your community. Ask a few of your Attendees which kinds of sponsors they appreciate – electronics, food, cars, entertainment, etc.

Find the correct person, the decision maker

Find the correct department in the company – the department that has an active “engagement” campaign in force and has a budget for sponsorships.

Propose the Largest, most Expensive Sponsorship First

… and don’t be surprised that the Sponsor wants to change it! Have a second and third offer in your briefcase (or iPad) that they can then review and choose among. Make the middle offer of greatest value to your Organization!

Customize Each Proposal

Each proposal should be customized to meet the Sponsor’s product line or persona in some way. Some might have educational component, others might have life-size display of products. With Photoshop and other easy presentation tools, you can show the layout of the room, the size of the display, etc. to give your prospect a visual feel for their value opportunities. This will get them exited about planning their unique impact and seeing it in person. Offer a tour of the facilities to their designer and your contact – that tour can provide additional ideas that could escalate the event and their impact… and help build an on-going relationship.

Do your research

It’s important to use the vocabulary of your prospects to develop understanding and mutual respect that you understand each other’s value. For instance, do they call their community members – clients, customers, associates or members? Do they sell, lease, rent or service their products, service or intellectual property? Do they focus on local, regional, statewide, national or international – or all of the above depending on the campaign in progress.

And while you research their key terms, take it a step further and research their Prospects’ key words so that you can attract them to your event. Here are common ways to use those key words in your outreach to your Attendees and Prospective Attendees:

  • Research target keywords and implement them to develop a shared vocabulary with your prospect
  • Use keywords and phrases in subheads and lead paragraphs
  • Place keywords in headlines to increase their visibility
  • Format written content to increase its SEO potential
  • Emphasize the shareability of all of your written content

Make a plan for which social media channels you will tell about your event, the key topics you will highlight, how often you will broadcast announcements, and who will carry on conversations about your Event, your Sponsors and how your Attendees will benefit from attending.

Hold some Extra Bang in Your Back Pocket

Hold a WOW Feature back – and offer it if your proposal meets resistance… or in exchange for something additional they request. This could include extra time in front of the audience, extra visibility in your social media, VIP invitations and media exposure, etc.

Production of the Event Sponsorship

Make “Buying” Easy

Keep the contract simple and make payment convenient. Make closing the sponsorship deal easy as possible. Work out all the details early and make them part of the proposal so there are no surprises, and everything is “in there” – insurance coverage, manpower, clean-up, media costs, etc. With today’s electronic tools, it is easier to make everything – contracts, payments, etc – electronic in a short, easy process.

The People Factor

When you treat your members as VIPs – by knowing their names and introducing like-minded people who might enjoy one another, you know they reap value. The same holds with your Sponsors. Assign a team to treat your Sponsors as VIPs – know their names and company and the value they bring to your event. Train them to select and introduce really good matches between Sponsor and Attendees to one another. Keep track of these introductions as a “Key Metric” to mention in your follow-up with your Sponsor.

Track the Key Metrics

Identify the “Key Metrics” that matter to your Organization management, and to your Sponsors. Possibilities include:

  • Number of Attendees
  • Cost per Person is a key metric for comparing Sponsorship opportunities Number of New Attendees each event

  • Are you growing and thriving?
  • Success breeds success!

  • Average Number of Quality Prospects Contacted
  • This can be affected by how you design the Sponsor’s access to Attendees

  • Average Number of Sales resulting from these Prospects
  • Targeted results are more important than raw numbers

  • Average Size of the Sale, and Lifetime Value
  • Size of the revenue affects how large an effort they will want to put into your Sponsorship opportunity(s).

  • Growth of Your Organization’s Community
  • Rate of growth increases the value, especially if you lock in a price for a full year.

Follow-up with your Event Sponsor(s)

Create an Event Summary for your Sponsor(s) and let them know the number of Attendees, research how many Leads they gathered, and follow up a few months later to see how many Sales they attribute to your event / and their sponsorship – as well as the Size or Lifetime Value of these new customers.

This kind of follow-up builds a partnering relationship that can creatively develop new strategies that bring value to your members. You can piggy-back on new promotions in the Sponsor’s company… and keep them informed about special events coming up, or educational opportunities for your members, etc.

Event Organizer Benefits

Whether you represent an entrepreneurial event management company, or are part of a team that produces events for a professional association or corporation – Sponsorship can help you grow and help you bring additional value to your Attendees. But your events and your Sponsorship strategy have to be planned, designed, and produced to reap those benefits.

I hope these tips to help you create a serious approach to Sponsorships will help you sharpen your own revenue picture and help you bring increasing value to your members and attendees.