Acquiring event sponsors can be a stressful process, but a necessary component that event organizers often struggle with. Every year, it becomes more difficult to acquire new sponsors. The standard process of pitching prospective sponsors seems trustworthy, but yet, it seems tired.
This old mainstay feels like it lacks innovative new methods to approach prospective sponsors and ultimately convert them into supporters for your event.
If you’ve ever planned or organized a professional event, you know that it can’t happen without securing sponsors. Building relationships with the perfect partners for your event is a vital step in ensuring an excellent experience for attendees. These partnerships will ensure that you have a message that resonates and helps to build an authentic conversation with everyone involved.
As the event organizer, you obviously want to have the best event you can. If you’re an experienced event organizer, you’ve likely had to face a financial quandary. Either invest your own money to throw a perfect event or come up lacking after an unsuccessful push for sponsorship. You never have to face this problem if you plan ahead and work hard to find the perfect sponsors. You will unlock the key to offering plenty of value to all participants as well as ensuring that more events can go off without a hitch in the future.
Event sponsorship is often treated like dating, and this is often a mistake. You should approach it like the business partnership it is. Arm yourself with research & preparation, great timing, and an incredibly useful tool kit. Then rest assured that by implementing a few simple strategies into your event plan to find sponsors, your efforts will yield results.
1) Do You Know Your Demographic?
Reflect on what your mission is and who the target audience is. People who are familiar with your brand and support you are already involved with your organization, but do you understand the market you’re going to pursue? If you don’t, start researching early and do plenty of it. w
No matter if your niche is nonprofits or the latest tech trend, take a deep dive to understand the routines and trends of your target audience and market accordingly.
Take the time to discover their spending prowess and purchasing habits. Research their median income and level of education. Consider their reading habits and ask for media kits from those publications to supplement your research- all for free. The more you comprehend about your fans and how your target market behaves, the better prepared you’ll be for what lies ahead.
2) Know Your Marketing Needs, Sponsorship Levels and Benefits.
Before you even start pitching prospective sponsors, place a value on every benefit you can offer them. This gives you a real market value for every moment of exposure you can offer to a potential sponsor. It also allows you to evaluate the levels in your sponsorship packages that you’ll be selling.
Remember, all pricing levels for each event should be tailored to the event and sponsor, and geared towards enticing past sponsors to contribute even more than your last event.
Adapting at a rapid pace is a must. Some partners will be interested in trade, product donations and other marketing initiatives, so being creative and open-minded will go a long way to help you meet your goals. Work to integrate sponsors in an authentic, significant way that translates to value for your organization, your sponsor, and the event attendees themselves.
3) Work Towards the Perfect Pitch to Build Better Sponsor Relationships
Sure, you’re calling to chat, but keep in mind that your point of contact is busy, too. No matter what type of event you’re organizing, being aware of the best times to call (and even more importantly, the worst times to call) will help your efforts to close. Every company has a different vibe and cadence that you’ll have to tailor your timing for.
Get a head start on avoiding roadblocks by calling human resources and asking them when the best time to contact your decision-maker is. It’s HR’s job to make their organization look fantastic to outsiders. They will be your beacon of light along the path to pitching a perfect proposal.
Your contact at small companies will be the founders themselves. Medium-sized companies will likely refer you to marketing or HR as a point of contact. Large companies will likely direct you to their sponsorship department. No matter the size of the organization you’re pitching, you’ll want to reach out months before your event.
When you’re ready to reach out to prospective sponsors, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Check Your Prospect’s Sponsorship Guidelines. If you’re approaching large, established corporations, keep in mind that these organizations regularly receive dozens to hundreds of requests. The corporations you’re pitching may have sponsorship guidelines and a planned budget, so think ahead and jump on opportunities early if they’re an ideal fit.
If you’re approaching large, established corporations, keep in mind that these organizations regularly receive dozens to hundreds of requests. The corporations you’re pitching may have sponsorship guidelines and a planned budget, so think ahead and jump on opportunities early if they’re an ideal fit. Connect With Them Authentically. Connecting with your prospective sponsor emotionally when they’re deciding whether or not to give you money can open the door to an amazing relationship.
Connecting with your prospective sponsor emotionally when they’re deciding whether or not to give you money can open the door to an amazing relationship. Clearly Communicate Your Mission. Tell prospects what your mission is and why organizing the event is important to your organization. Cultivating a connection on shared values that you and the prospect support is key to starting a solid relationship.
Tell prospects what your mission is and why organizing the event is important to your organization. Cultivating a connection on shared values that you and the prospect support is key to starting a solid relationship. Keep It Short. Brevity goes a long way when pitching prospects. 30-seconds is more than enough time to introduce your conference, target audience, mission, benefits, and any press that will be in attendance.
Brevity goes a long way when pitching prospects. 30-seconds is more than enough time to introduce your conference, target audience, mission, benefits, and any press that will be in attendance. Be Prepared to Demonstrate Value. Always be prepared to show the value you can provide prospective sponsors by having the benefits you offer at the ready.
These steps should open the world of successful event sponsorship strategy to your organization and help you build a cohesive event that helps you meet your goals while providing sponsors with as much value as you can for the money they spent.
Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band.