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Panic Mode – 5 Things to Consider if You Lose an Annual Sponsor

Chances are if you are hosting an event, you plan to rely on sponsorship to generate a lion’s share of your revenue. For many successful events, this means offering a robust set of packages that will entice new and returning clients to sign on every year. From base level sponsor to the platinum level exhibitor, everyone of these clients plays a key role in the bottom line of your event.

So what happens when one of your reliable, annual sponsors opts out of your event? Losing that revenue can make a severe impact on the outcome of your event, and your attendees may have come to expect that company represented on site.

As an event planner, what do you do?

1. Revamp your Sponsorship Packages

One sponsorship package does not fit all. Just as you make modifications to the event agenda and logistics from year to year, doing the same for sponsorship packages should also be a priority. What works for Company A might be a far cry from what Company B desires. You might find that your lost sponsor didn’t see a high return rate from a few components of previous packages in which they agreed. Maybe they don’t focus their efforts on social media but signed on to a package that included a heavy social component. Or perhaps they didn’t see an increase in traffic to their website, or too few leads were generated from the event. No matter the case, it’s imperative to ensure that sponsorship packages are fresh and new from year to year that align with the goals of the company so they get the biggest bang for their buck.

2. Reevaluate Your Target Audience

A common concern among exhibitors is getting in front of their target audience. Is your event catering to their demographic?  It’s common for annual events to draw a broader crowd from year to year, and that’s great – reaching a wide audience means you’re generating interest in different areas! That being said, your sponsors expect to see a specific audience on site when they’re spending sponsorship dollars on your event. It might be that your event isn’t the right fit for a certain exhibitor, and that’s okay. Why spend valuable time and energy trying to push a square peg into a round hole? Rather than trying to convince the wrong companies to sponsor your event, review your previous attendee data and try to find the best companies providing solutions for your attendees.

3. Revamp Your Budget

When an annual sponsor opts out, your overall budget can take a hit. While you may not make up for that lost revenue this year, there are a few things you can do to make sure your bottom line doesn’t fall into the red as a result of your ‘sure thing’ sponsor not signing on. Consider scaling back on a few extras with the venue: that extra TV monitor, the extra catering course, the high end décor, or the printed materials (go green and give everyone access to documents through an event app like Expo Pass!). All of these money savers will lessen the burden of lost revenue in the end.

4. Prove your Event’s worth

As a last resort, work with the lost sponsor to prove your event’s worth to them. That might mean giving them a few free passes to your event so they can see what’s new and exciting on site, or offering a deep discount on a sponsorship package simply to retain them for next year. Find out what they want or what they felt they were missing and use that to your advantage; continuing to build the relationship despite losing out on your tried-and-true sponsor is crucial in keeping them in the pipeline for the future.

5. Make Sure You’re Asking the Right Questions

Being blindsided by a potential sponsor who opts not to sign on can be jarring. However, taking into considerations their reasoning can be a huge help to you when managing other sponsors during your event. Make sure that you’re keeping lines of communication open with other clients so that you fully understand what they’re looking for as a sponsor, and follow up post-event with a sponsor-specific survey where their feedback can help you to plan your events in the future.

It’s not fun to lose an exhibitor that you’ve come to rely on. But if it does happen, take the opportunity to reevaluate where you can make up for lost revenue in other areas, while focusing on what you can do to retain sponsors who are signed on – you’ll be surprised at what you find!

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