Sponsorship needs to be considered as part of the marketing and communications process, this process helps to identify the most undesirable gaps and creates opportunity for partners and sponsors to assist the event. While some parts may seem straight forward, sticking to a framework can help make the process flow more easily. The follow steps have been broken down to enable you to look at the key aspects of securing and retaining sponsors for your event.
Make sure your Sponsors fit your event
Event organisers who select the ideal sponsors for them are likely to have more success than organisers who spam entire industries. Do your research and get to know the values and goals of various companies you’re interested in. If you think there’s a match reach out, otherwise move on.
Do your attendees match the sponsor’s target markets?
Making sure your attendees are current customers or are potential future customers of your sponsors helps enhance the appeal of investing in your event.
Collect Key Event Data
Above all else, event sponsors want to invest in conferences that are likely to bring a return on their investment. By having data from previous similar events and from the current event you’re organising, you can help to prove to potential sponsors that your event is worth sponsoring.
Sponsors are typically interested in metrics like: attendee demographics, social media chatter/engagement, and potential reach (attendee + online audience). Create a case study featuring the success past event sponsors had when supporting similar events you’ve planned.
Package your offering
It is important to break down your event into various sponsorship packages composed of rights. These rights can include naming rights (such as the Emirates Stadium or Barclay’s Premier League), preferential supplier/partner or media partner to name a few. Breaking the assets of your event down can allow for a wider variety of sponsors. Particularly at conferences, breaking down the social elements of the event as a sponsorship opportunity can help promote a sponsors brand at that point in the event (such as this gala dinner is sponsored by our friends at…).
Image Perception and Typicality
The perception of your sponsor can have a strong impact on the perception of your event. Ensuring there is a suitable link between the two is integral to make the relationship mutually beneficial. Established brands utilise the emotional bond between consumer and sports teams, players, festivals, tournaments and build up associations of their own that accrue as a result of linking their logo to a sponsored object. With that, securing viable sponsors with characteristics desirable for your event, ensuring there is an appropriate Brand-Event Fit can help imprint these characteristics through Brand Image Transfer.
Always ensure there is a key resemblance between the sponsor and your event. There are various examples of poor sponsorship fit such as McDonald’s sponsoring various Olympic events, it is important that the image perceptions complement each other rather than conflict.
It may seem like common sense, but local businesses are best suited to local events as nationwide businesses can suit events across the country. The delegate appeal, whether national or international, of the event will affect its suitability to a sponsor.
A suitable example would be a local brand providing goods whose next step is to expand geographically; sponsoring a nationally attended event within their current hometown. This process will increase brand awareness while promoting its origin.
It is important for the sponsoring brand’s values and characteristics to complement the events, but events rarely only rely on one sponsor. The brand image of one sponsor can be imprinted on the event and vice versa, meaning all sponsors linked to the event are interconnected. The synergy between the event’s values and its sponsors is key here to ensure a longstanding and fruitful sponsorship relationship. The aspects of sponsor packages based on the event assets can be essential in maintaining sponsorship relationships, this can create boundaries and guidelines to ensure each sponsor knows their entitlement.
Prior to securing your sponsors, during the selection process it is important to identify any potential clashes between brands. While some sponsors can complement each other through the event, there are some obvious partnerships which are incompatible due to their opposing values or previous encounters.
This is not just linked to opposing brands or partners, business that potentially have the same target markets and a similar product or service will likely receive less benefit and clash.
Master the Cold Call
Unless you have an “in” at the company you’re targeting, you’re going to need to get good at doing some call outreach. Start by sending a cold email to someone in charge of partnerships, or if you can’t find that person, to someone in the marketing department.
Follow up with a second email if you haven’t heard back and then pick up the phone and call your contact. Your goal should be to get a decision maker on the phone and present them with an opportunity that they can’t say “no” to.
Nurture the Relationship
If you properly promote the sponsor at the event you’ll likely have the opportunity to build a long standing relationship with the sponsor. It’s common for companies to sponsor the same events each year, so be sure to collect great data about how your event helped the sponsoring company. Information about visits sent to their website, ad impressions made through your event app, or leads generated through special promo link, are great metrics to keep track of. Create a debrief presentation for the sponsor and share it with them after the event. Then be sure to keep in touch to keep your relationship alive.