It’s time to meet your new best friend—event sponsorship. This is one of the best methods for saving money, securing must-have supplies, and forging a lasting relationship with impactful partners. It isn’t just about getting what you need, though. When you do it right, event sponsorship benefits both parties.
This is a delicate relationship, but with the right road map, it’ll go as smoothly as a text thread with your bestie!
Find your perfect match.
We get it. It’s intimidating to ask out your crush, but we’re here to help.
In a nutshell, sponsors provide a range of benefits depending on your needs. There are financial sponsors that contribute to your budget, in-kind sponsors that provide goods and services, and media sponsors who give your event the popularity boost it needs.
Like everything we do, event sponsorship should be personal and specific. Consider what kind of event you’re planning and what the values of it are. You’ll want to approach companies that share these values and have a place in the same industry. This makes forging a mutually-beneficial relationship easier.
For example, if you’re planning a trade show for the e-commerce industry, someone who sells digital advertising would be the perfect sponsor.
Start your search with top brands in your industry, then work your way down. If you’re just starting out, finding an established company to sponsor you is a great way to improve your street cred! Once you’ve found sponsors that align with your brand and mission, it’s time to start submitting those proposals! That’s right. Now you have to approach your crush.
Create a winning proposal.
Include as many details as you can about your event and its goals. The clearer you are about your goals for the event, why you approached this sponsor, and what you’re offering, the better your chances are of starting that desired relationship.
Here are some details to include in your proposal:
- Make an emotional connection by telling your company story.
- How does your event fulfill your mission statement?
- Highlight the target audience and where it intersects with your potential sponsor’s.
- Give a clear breakdown of what any financial contribution will go toward.
- Most importantly, what benefits will you offer in exchange for sponsorship?
Jerry Maguire said it best; show them the money! Share data on how your previous events have succeeded. This will paint a clear and attractive picture of how your event will help the chosen sponsor achieve their goals.
They might still be on the fence. That’s okay. Remember, this is about a relationship, so you can invest in the long term by offering them a trial deal. This is a little risk, little reward approach that allows the sponsor to invest a smaller amount as a way to test the relationship. If it goes well, they may go all in on the next one!
Pro tip: Do your research. If your potential sponsor has had any changes in leadership, has had their business affected by current events, or is about to launch a new product, take note. Mentioning any of these in your proposal will show an attention to detail and will help you speak directly to their needs.
Bring the value.
If you build it, the sponsors will come! We’re talking about value. Sponsorship is just as much about what you can do for them as what they can do for you.
Design your offer to cater to your sponsor’s goals. You might offer them a free booth at your event where they can promote their own products or services. If they are about to launch a new product, giving them a platform to do so is a home-run.
Promote their brand to your audience. Putting their logo or company name on banners and promotional materials is an easy way to add big value. You can also feature their brand in blog posts, email newsletters, or social media posts. The more you promote their brand, the more eager they’ll be to turn your event into a success.
Don’t be a part of the mean girl’s squad, make sure that everyone can be included! Organize your offers into investment tiers like gold, silver, and bronze. The investment level of each tier should correspond with the rewards that your sponsors get in return. This opens the door for more investment opportunities and allows sponsors big and small to join the party!
Nurture your relationship.
Listen to the matchmakers; good relationships are all about communication! Keep your sponsors in the loop as your event develops. Ask them for suggestions, ideas, or if they need any assistance during the event.
Don’t just offer them what you think they want, ask them! Maybe they don’t want a free booth and are more interested in a newsletter feature. This is a great way to show that you genuinely care about whether or not they meet their goals.
It’s obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. Thank them! Do it publicly and privately. You can express your gratitude during the event’s big-ticket speeches or through a friendly handshake. Trust us, it’s better to say it too much than not enough.
Keep up with your sponsors after the event by sending congratulations whenever they have a big win. Mail them a holiday card, new years wishes, and other holiday packages. This shows that you value the relationship beyond the initial transaction. And who doesn’t love a holiday-themed gift basket?
Measure your success.
If you didn’t Instagram it, it didn’t happen, right? The same applies to your event. Show your sponsors just how successful your partnership was by sending them a fulfillment report.
On-site sales and newsletter sign ups are a clear indication of how successful your partnership was. You can also track engagement on social media. Did they gain more followers, likes, or traction on new content?
Sometimes, the most direct approach is the best. Ask your sponsors how they feel about the partnership. If they considered it a success, why? This will help you understand the areas where your relationship succeeded, setting you up for even more fruitful sponsorships in the future. Knowing what works is just as important as knowing what doesn’t.
When measuring the success of your event, consider your sponsor’s goals as much as your own. This way, you’ll be able to show their impact as well as the benefits to their own brand. They’ll feel valued and will be grateful for the value that you brought to them in return!
Finding your partner in crime.
It’s all about relationships! Not just the ones you forge with your attendees, but with your sponsors as well. Think of them as your partners in crime. Your go-to guys and gals who provide the missing links for your perfect event.
These relationships are a two-way street. When searching for, proposing to, and working with your sponsors, consider their wants and needs as much as your own. The best relationships come from aligning your values. If you have a similar audience, demographic, or set of goals, you can get further by working together.
Don’t underestimate the value you can offer in return for sponsorship. Get creative and be sure to check in regularly. It isn’t just about offering value, but delivering on it. If everything goes well, you’ll enjoy the best part of event sponsorship—having a lifelong partner in event-planning!