Choosing to work with sponsors at your event is a big decision with many factors (including your budget, size, and even your audience) that go into figuring out if it will be the right decision for you.
But if you do decide to use sponsors at your event, you open the door to a bigger budget, more opportunities, and the ability to reach a wider audience.
Unfortunately, the minute you decide to use event sponsors the work of finding them, getting them interested in participating, and having them actually give you money begins.
And for many event organizers, the pursuit of sponsors is overwhelming and daunting, to say the least (especially if the event is on the smaller side). The good news is it is possible to land sponsors that are really excited about your event and have a lot to offer your audience, once you know the right formula.
That’s why this week, we’re diving into the exact steps you can use to entice sponsors to join your next event, regardless of its size.
Step 1 — Know your numbers
The first step to enticing sponsors to contribute is to get crystal clear on your expectations.
Exactly how much do you need from each of your sponsors? Are you asking sponsors to supply food, auctionable items, tech used during your event etc.? Or are you looking for a certain amount of financial contributions to help fund the event as a whole?
No sponsor is going to write you a blank check, so you need to have a clear idea what you want from each of them Click To Tweetand (in the case of physical assets) how it directly translates to a dollar amount.
This means that well before you approach sponsors, you need to sit down with your team and come up with a plan for exactly what you’d like to receive and how many sponsors you’ll need, on average, to make that happen.
If you feel uncomfortable asking for a certain amount from each sponsor, one simple way of helping sponsors know what they can contribute is to create different levels of sponsorship — such as bronze, silver, and gold — with varying degrees of contribution.
Step 2 — Lead with the benefits
Now that you know how much you want to receive from your sponsors, the next step is to help them see why they should participate in your event.
Regardless of whether your event supports a good cause, sponsors are ultimately interested in making back their ROI from participating. Luckily for you, this can come in the form of building brand recognition and exposure.
Before you even begin speaking to individual sponsors, make a list of all the ways your event is beneficial to them.
- Does it help reach a similar audience?
- Can you give them a platform or a booth to promote their services?
- Will they be able to contribute speakers to your main stage sessions and use your event as an opportunity to talk about their programs or work?
There can be many different benefits to working with you, so it’s important that it’s crystal clear why they should get involved.
If you decide to incorporate different sponsorship levels, as we discussed above, you can also provide more exclusive benefits packages based on the amount they contribute. For instance, bronze sponsors may be asked to contribute a certain dollar amount in exchange for their company’s branding placed throughout the event, whereas a silver sponsor might be asked to contribute more and also receive a booth in the venue’s lobby.
Regardless of how you choose to establish the benefits your sponsors will receive, these should be set in stone with clear dollar amounts before you approach them.
Step 3 — Send a clear proposal
Now that you know your numbers and have a clear idea of how your sponsors will benefit from participating in your event, it’s all about writing a compelling proposal to get them interested.
Before you even set out to write, however, it is key that you find the right person to contact for each of your sponsors. No one likes to receive a cursory email with no personal information, and emails not addressed to a specific individual can go unanswered.
Therefore, it’s essential that you find a way to really reach out to your true point of contact first to get your proposal moving along even faster.
Once you know who you’ll be sending it to, the next step is to get your details together and write a proposal that highlights sponsor benefits, as well as tells the story and mission for why you’re hosting this event.
You want to make this a memorable proposal — so it’s important that you appeal to their emotions as well as to their bottom lines.
Step 4 — Follow Up
Everyone is busy, especially your sponsors. Staying top of mind is the fastest and easiest way to make sure that you get what you’ve asked for, without falling to the bottom of someone’s never-ending to-do list.
If you’re approaching several sponsors for your event, create a simple follow up spreadsheet with the dates that you submitted your request and three or four dates in the subsequent weeks when you’ll send emails (or even better, make phone calls) checking in on your request.
Likewise, don’t worry about appearing overeager, especially if you’re seeking sponsors from large or corporate sponsors. Many of these companies need a little nudge throughout the process to ensure your request jumps through all the required hoops. So don’t assume one follow up will cut it, especially if you don’t hear back right away. Keep reaching out on a regular schedule, until you hear back — one way or the other.
If following up leaves you feeling overwhelmed and your event is in the position to do so, you can always appoint one person on your volunteer team with the responsibility of following up for you. Making these phone calls is a simple task that can go a long way — saving you time and energy from having to do it yourself.
Remember, sponsors are most excited about participating in an event that’s worthwhile, reaches their audience, and supports a good cause. And over the course of all the planning, proposal writing, and follow up calls you do with potential sponsors, you’ll have countless opportunities to keep bringing it back to these benefits, and in doing so, get sponsors that want to work with you.
Getting speakers excited to come onboard your event doesn’t take a lot, just a well thought out plan and a little due diligence. With this behind you, you’ll be able to land just the right sponsors for your event — regardless of your event’s size.