Securing sponsors is a critical step in event planning. Not only are sponsors financially important, but partnering with sponsors can also be an effective marketing strategy. With the right sponsors, you will be able to attract better known and respected speakers, entertainers, vendors, or exhibitors. The right sponsors can even attract attendees who are interested in learning more about them. All of this can increase credibility for your brand. Using sponsorships as a marketing tool takes a little extra work but, if done correctly, will drive a positive ROI for your event.
Here are five best practices for acquiring the most effective sponsorships during your event planning for both revenue and marketing purposes.
Be Proactive and Strategic
Don’t wait for sponsors to come to you. And don’t just pitch the largest companies in your market. Spend some time thinking about which organizations align with your mission and goals. Identify thought leaders in your industry who might draw attendees. Look for companies that are disrupting or changing your market or industry. Research who your competitors are partnering with for their events. Review relevant industry blogs and social media hashtag for organizations your colleagues are talking about. Make a short but complete list of the most interesting prospects to pitch your sponsorship package.
Start this phase of event planning early. This is an important part of your planning process and it may take several months of research and meetings to secure a good sponsorship. Reach out to the organizations on your list and ask for an in-person meeting to pitch your sponsorship package. Make sure you’ve built time for additional negotiation so that you are not scrambling after ticket sales have started.
Don’t Just Pitch the Norm
Be creative yet thoughtful when pulling together a sponsorship package. Clearly define your Unique Selling Proposition. Benefits should provide value for both you and the sponsor. Start with the usual sponsor benefits like exclusivity and logo placement but also include uncommon elements like special “behind the scenes” opportunities for guests of the sponsor, PR opportunities, or attendee information, if appropriate. Do your homework on prospects before sending a proposal. Understand their business goals or mission and tailor each proposal accordingly. Show them that your goals align with theirs. Be very specific with the benefits you will provide to each prospective sponsor. Offer to partner with each prospect on their package so that they feel like they have a stake in the results.
Think Long Term
Treat every new sponsorship as a relationship, not a transaction. Engaged sponsors can be a huge help in making each event successful. Sponsors can and will come back year after year if they feel like are getting a good ROI on their investment and they feel like they are a partner in the planning of each event. Make sure to deliver an impact report to each sponsor quickly after each event so that they can see the benefits of staying involved. Effective event planning is not a one-and-done job, it’s ongoing and constant. Stay connected with your sponsors throughout the year, laying the groundwork for the next event.
Ask for Feedback
Ask for feedback from your sponsors after every event. Treat each event as a learning experience. Always strive to improve and refine your event planning and the partnerships it takes to make each event happen. Sponsors are an important resource in learning what worked and what can be improved. Being transparent can also help your partner make the decision to renew their sponsorship next year. Securing sponsorships is an integral part of event planning. It’s more than just securing revenue and maximizing ROI. It’s also building strategic marketing relationships. Using strong engagement tactics, your sponsorship strategy will build long term success for your events.