Sponsorships can make all the difference between an event being a success or not – so how do you get sponsors for your event?
Sponsorship is important as it will either be a source of funding for features your event could otherwise not offer, or may even make the difference between you having and event or not at all.
Whilst there are many different potential approaches you can make to event sponsorship companies, there are a few must-try techniques which can offer you a very good chance of success.
Event sponsors come in all shapes and sizes – and often are not the companies that you would think would be the most obvious – so when looking for the best companies to approach for sponsorship, keep an open mind.
We will look at several aspects of this process, that cover:
- Types of businesses to sponsor your event
- Why do companies sponsor events?
- How to find a company to sponsor your event
- What to know before you ask a company to sponsor your event
- How to pitch an event sponsor
- What to offer an event sponsor
Here then, are some of the most important aspects to keep in mind when looking to get a sponsor for your event.
Consider the types of businesses that will make the best companies to approach for sponsorship.
Companies who sponsor events usually do not do so for altruistic reasons, but for what they will receive in return.
The best companies to approach for sponsorship therefore, will be ones that will recieve a mutual benefit from your event. They may not be in the same industry as you – but they can still benefit from increased brand exposure, lead generation opportunities (which don’t compete with your own) and data harvesting opportunities.
Look for sponsors whose customers match yours in demographic terms. For example, if you are a clothing manufacturer aimed at the teens/twenty-something market, you’d have little interest in seeking sponsorship from a company providing holidays to retired people.
Fast food delivery services, tech companies and the music industry, however, would be great places to look for a mutually beneficial sponsorship deal.
(Having said that – don’t rule out the idea of contrasting customer matches entirely. Every now and then you will come across a company seeking to break into a new market).
Also, look to approach companies that have already sponsored events before – if it paid off for them previously, they will be keen to repeat the experience.
Understand why companies sponsor events
Event sponsorship companies have varied reasons for wanting to sponsor events.
Admittedly, most are financial – so when approaching a company to ask for their sponsorship, have a presentation ready that will show them their potential ROI.
But that is not the only reason. For some firms it’s a vanity project – they just like to see their name up there and understand that it will build their brand awareness. This may also include improving their brand image or reaching a new demographic that they have not marketed to before.
For other firms, it will be about increasing sales – so access to the attendees and their data will be a key incentive for them.
When approaching a company, be sure to have all the bases covered, but be open to finding new common ground that comes up in the conversation that you were perhaps not expecting.
How to find event sponsors using online tools and platforms
Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to help you to find event sponsors online.
Opensponsorship is another, that focusses purely on sports-related events.
These are just a couple of examples, there are many quality platforms and other online tools out there to assist you to find the right company to sponsor your event.
Have your list of requirements that the sponsorship is for
When approaching potential sponsors for events, know what you need. You need to be specific when pitching a potential sponsor, both in terms of what they will get out of it, but also what you are looking for them to contribute.
Don’t just quote a number – tell them what the funds will be used for and why it is important.
Tackle this the same way you would a business plan presentation when seeking any other kind of investment.
Be detailed, be knowledgeable and be confident.
Give a great sponsorship presentation
But – don’t just go in with your “shopping list”.
This is a sales pitch and it needs a great story – it needs your story. What is your company mission statement? Who is your demographic audience? What is the purpose of the event and how will you deem it to be a success?
And how do you see your sponsor fitting into your company story and benefitting from the event?
Offer incentives to the event sponsors
What do event sponsors get in return? That depends on how much they sponsor you.
A potential sponsor will no doubt come to the table with a list of their own ideas, but as we said above, be prepared and be specific before you even start.
And while incentives will be event and industry-specific, here are a few general suggestions to get you thinking:
- If you are running a trade shows or exhibition, then a free booth is a minimum.
- Speaking slots to the audience or even their own separate presentation auditorium, depending on the size and type of the event.
- The sponsor’s name and logo on all promotional materials – program, banners and flyers.
- Free advertising space in the brochure/marketing materials.
- Highlighting the sponsorship in your blogs, emails, newsletters and social media posts.
- Offering event merchandise or discounts to customers that buy from the sponsor at the event, to encourage more sales for them.
If you are pitching out to a large number of potential sponsors, or hope to raise multiple smaller sums from numerous sponsors, consider making a contributor list which sets our specific benefits at different value levels (the ‘Kickstarter’ approach).
Make the list of items as appropriate for you, these are just for example:
- Tier 1 (£xxx) – Sponsor gets branding on all promotional materials and online promotions, an exhibition stand, and an hour speaking session to attendees.
- Tier 2 (£yyy) – Sponsor gets an exhibition stand and branding on all printed event materials used on the day
- Tier 3 (£zzz) – Sponsor gets listed as a sponsor online and their logo appears on the event brochure.
As you will not doubt already have realised, all of this takes planning – so start early. In fact, start today, regardless of when your event is.
Companies willing to sponsor events do not just fall out of the sky, they are found through hard work, patience and diligence, so the earlier you get started the better your chance of success.
And remember, although it may seem daunting at first, remember that finding event sponsors for your event is very much like finding new customers – make a plan, follow it, and with patience (and – OK – perhaps a little luck) you will be fine.
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