Bite Sized Guide to Leveraging Event Sponsors

Written by
Published on
April 9, 2018

We all know that getting your event noticed by potential attendees takes more than a wish — it takes an enticing offer. Whether that’s having distinguished speakers or presenters, having the event located in a desirable location, providing a unique experience, etc., your participants need that extra push to get them excited and on board. But building up the capital to execute any one of those elements for your event, especially during the beginning planning stages, is rarely easy. Which leaves event organizers only 2 options:1 — Foot the bill alone until attendees reimburse the initial costs.2 — Use sponsors to lend a hand financially during those initial stages of planning and up front costs.(You probably don’t have to guess which one most events choose to go with.) While sponsors are an incredible asset for getting your event rolling, it’s easy to look at your sponsors and see them solely as the means to your desired bottom line. But treating your sponsors that way can leave a good deal of untapped potential on the table. So while leveraging them for your event can seem like a no-brainer, making the most out of their contributions is easier said than done. To help you get started, the first step is writing a proposal that gets you noticed and gets them on board.

Understand the full value of a sponsor

Event sponsorship

Depending on your industry and your event, your sponsors may have no problem with being more behind the scenes. But regardless of their participation, no one wants to feel like they’re being used. To help them feel more like a partner (instead of a cash cow) the key is to understand their non-monetary value. Sponsors can be incredibly useful to your event in more ways than meet the eye. They can:

  • Share their audiences with you: Many times these brands have built-in audiences that already know, like, and trust your sponsors. Therefore, it is easy to turn their eye towards your event, which can be incredibly useful for filling seats and spreading the general awareness. This is especially helpful if you encourage your sponsors to send out emails and publicize that they’re onboard with your event on their website.
  • Bolster your credibility and brand: Especially if you are a newer event or organization, having larger, well-known sponsors can do a lot to elevate your brand by association. This is why it’s so important when it comes time to choose your sponsors that you ensure you’re picking ones whose reputation and presence fits in with your business mission and the goals of your event.
  • Help you tap into new market and communities: The reach of each of your sponsors will be different from one to the next, but specifically choosing sponsors who are tapped into new markets can help foster your growth and get your foot in the door quicker.

Sponsors don’t come on board with your event out of the goodness of their own hearts — they’re seeking increased brand awareness and a good ROI. To this end, it’s vital that you outline clearly what level of sponsorship they’re agreeing to AND what exactly they’ll receive in return. Unfortunately, many events fail to get clear figures and in turn give their prospective sponsors an unrealistic idea of what to expect. While these figures are hard to calculate, your sponsors care about the amount of exposure they’ll receive. So, help your sponsors see the benefits of participating by sharing with them the expected buying power of your audience in cold, hard facts.

“If you expect that a banner placed in a venue will be seen by forty thousand people, then say that. If you will be sending an email invitation with a sponsor logo to ten thousand people, then let them know.”

Highlighting the benefits of sponsorship keeps everyone on the same page and feeling like their contributions were valued and worth everyone’s time.

Unique sponsorship opportunities help sponsors feel appreciated

As we’ve discussed above, the last thing sponsors want is to feel used or simply a means to a financial end. In fact, this is the fastest way to get stuck with bitter, mismatched, or frustrating relationships with your sponsors. One way to mitigate this is to come up with interesting sponsorship ideas that can help show you take their contributions seriously and are interested in providing your attendees unique ways of connecting with them. Remember, there doesn’t have to be a “one-size fits all” sponsorship role for everyone who decides to partner in your event. Find out what type of exposure best suits their needs and think outside the box on how you could deliver that. Some unique sponsorship opportunities can include using photo booths, branded fitness sessions, or swag bags. Another option to provide your sponsors a more hands-on way of participating in your event, is to try using the sponsorship feature in the Superevent App. It has a special profile feature just for sponsors, which helps them get seen, noticed, and appreciated by all your attendees.

Event sponsorship

Setting correct expectations will save you hours of headaches

While creating custom sponsorship opportunities is a great way for each sponsor to come alongside your event, providing a custom sponsorship opportunity mean that you will also need to be crystal clear about your expectations. How would you like them to be involved? What are they expected to contribute? What do they need to put in place to make your expectations a reality? As always, communication is key to making sure you’re both on the same page. Likewise, having a well-thought-out and thorough event proposal with all the nitty-gritty details of what you want and what you’re willing to offer can save the day — helping to put your expectations front and center. Which brings us to...

Pitching the right brands keeps everyone on the same page

While communication is vital for setting correct expectations, it’s also exponentially easier when you have the same priorities as your sponsors. This is why, in your initial pitching phase, it’s so important to seek out sponsors whose target market complements your event, and vice versa. Ultimately this means that an important part of your leg work will come down to getting clear on who they serve, what their marketing goals are, and what their business is all about. Paying close attention to these attributes will help you bring on sponsors for your event that have more of a vested interest.---If making the most of the sponsors for your event feels overwhelming, remember, at the end of the day everyone wants to feel respected, communicated with, and happy with the contributions they’ve made. Your sponsors are as eager to get the most out of your event as you are, so approach them from this perspective, and they’ll be happy to contribute time and time again.

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