Unless you are a Fortune 500 company, you probably don’t have the budget for a high-scale event. This means you will need sponsors on your side. Of course, getting a sponsor is easier said than done. Why will another company, after all, choose to sponsor your event when they receive dozens of similar requests on a near daily basis? Approaching sponsors the right way is the key to tilting the odds in your favor.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR ASSETS TO A SPONSOR
Sponsors leverage their sponsorship as a marketing strategy. Clearly, they want something out of it; otherwise they would not be sponsoring anyone and spending thousands of dollars. What can you offer to the sponsor that is tied directly to their campaign strategy? It should be more than just eyeballs and extra clicks to their website.
If you share a similar demographic audience, then perhaps you can provide them with your own detailed data mining report, complete with predictive analytics and psychographics. Maybe you can provide value to their customers by giving them free VIP membership as part of a cross-promotion. In any case, you need to identify unique incentives that distinguish you from a competitor.
2. TIMING IS IMPORTANT
Most companies only do event sponsoring at certain times of the year. Their event budget is often formulated the previous year. The optimal time of year differs depending on factors like the economy, the industry, and the company’s ROI performance.
Other companies may sponsor events year-round but have a more limited budget during certain seasons. Companies tend to hold more events during the summer and fall seasons. Some may not be doing any sponsoring at this time of year since they’re reserving their budget for their own events. They may begin sponsoring during the slower months in winter when their own consumer activity is slow.
Know when the peak sponsoring times are for each company you reach out to. This may mean having to schedule your events around these peak times.
3. BE DATA-HEAVY IN YOUR PROPOSAL
Sponsors see your event as a form of advertising for their own company. As such, they want to see numbers that predict a successful event. Your proposal should include a spreadsheet and strong data visuals that outline anticipated attendance, attendance numbers of past events, social media engagement, and so on.
Other forms of data you should share includes Click-Through Rate or CTR for event-specific ads. Include numbers generated from your business intelligence system’s predictive analytics.
Raw data is more important to sponsors than unquantifiable measurements like testimonials. Keep your data up to date and only present data that satisfies your own company benchmarks.
4. PROPOSE DIFFERENT PACKAGE LEVELS
Your proposal shouldn’t just include a desired monetary sum. Provide sponsors with multiple tiers of sponsorship options and what you will do in return at each tier. Perhaps you need $20,000 to host the event, but you should let the sponsor know that you’re willing to accept a smaller funding amount. A tiered sponsor package should include a list of the options and what you will provide at each level, such as in the following:
- $20,000 – the sponsor’s logo on all of your promotional items, cross promotion of the sponsor’s latest product during the main presentation, sponsor’s ad on your digital signage;
- $10,000 – two of the three incentives under the $20,000 tier;
- $5,000 – any one of the three incentives under the $20,000 tier;
Of course, this may mean having to acquire multiple sponsorships to obtain the full funding. However, you should be having an ongoing relationship with multiple sponsors. After all, do famous athletes, musicians, and politicians ever only have a single sponsor?
5. MAKE IT ABOUT THE SPONSOR
Your company is the one seeking event funding; therefore, the ball is in the sponsor’s court. Aside from proposing multiple sponsor options, you can also just be direct and ask the sponsor what it wants in return. This way, you can customize a package suitable for the sponsor’s specific needs. Does the sponsor want your own brand advocates to cross promote its products? Does it want to set up its own booth or workshop at your event?
Know what the sponsor wants and do your best to fulfill the request. At the same time, however, don’t be afraid to negotiate so that what you get out of it is fair for you.
There you have it, a guide to getting sponsors on your side. These strategies aren’t fail-proof by any means, and you should still expect many sent proposals to go unanswered. However, these steps do make your proposal stand out from the pile of other similar sponsoring requests.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.
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