How to Use Sponsors for Event Entertainment

Written by
Published on
September 17, 2018

For anyone planning an event, finding as many ways as possible to minimize costs is top of mind. Hosting events single-handedly can be disastrously expensive for any organization, especially if you’re hosting a corporate event or if it’s before ticket sales come in to help begin recouping costs. However, using sponsors for your event is a good way to meet your expenses head on. While there are some types of events that can use sponsors for just about anything, others like smaller association events or corporate events can have a harder time. Even though they are less likely to work with sponsors in general, bringing one on for entertainment has a low enough barrier to be accessible for just about everyone. If your event has fewer sponsorship needs or opportunities. That said, as with any other sponsor relationship you have, choosing one that’s right for you and your audience is key. Which is why we’re diving in to explore how you can choose the right entertainment for your event and pair it with a sponsor eager to work with you.

Finding the right type of entertainment

It’s no surprise that including some kind of entertainment is essential for every event. It gives your attendees time to relax and switch gears while also being able to network and mingle. However, the type of entertainment you choose will depend on the style of event that you’re hosting. For corporate events, adhering to your company’s style and values will be important for continuing to set the right tone throughout the event. While it may seem obvious, choosing entertainment that aligns with your audience cannot be overstated. The entertainment that happens during your event can set the tone, and picking the wrong type can have lasting ramifications. For example, hosting entertainment that includes drinking, like an after party, may not be as appropriate as it would be for association events. Or inversely, having a comedian at a scientific conference might set the right tone. To ensure that you’re picking the right type of entertainment for your event, keep your audience front and center in your mind. What are their age ranges? Their social demographic? Are they largely strangers? Or will there be groups of people who know one another?

Event sponsor

Choosing the Right Sponsor

Once you know the kind of entertainment you’d like to have at your event, you can begin searching for the right sponsor. If you don’t want to ask from a monetary investment from your sponsors, you can look for companies or businesses that are providing the entertainment you’d like to offer as a service. For example, a local radio station might agree to sponsor a DJ station, or a local photographer could sponsor the photo booth. Another important consideration is that you try to find sponsors whose brand has similar values as your audience (i.e. your audience could include potential customers for them). This will make it easier to develop strong reasons for why potential sponsors should work with you and your event.

Developing Your Ask

Once you’ve narrowed down some key sponsors that will be right for your event and the kind of entertainment you’d like to provide, it’s time to develop your ask. But before you can set out and ask a company to participate, it’s important to remember that forming sponsor relationships is like any other. Just as you want to expand your reach and influence, so do your sponsors. Therefore, before approaching a potential sponsor, you’ll want to put together a well-developed pitch or ‘ask’ stating exactly what you’d like your sponsors to provide and what they’ll receive in return. According to Event Birdie, “Entering into a sponsorship deal means you are embarking on a relationship with a company or brand that is looking to maximize their return on investment through the sponsorship. As is the case with any relationship, there needs to be give and take on both sides, and you need to create a balance that meets the needs for you and your sponsor.” This means getting crystal clear on exactly what you’d like them to contribute, hard figures for what materials or staffing would be required, the time you expect from them, how much it will amount to, and what kind of ROI they can expect from participating. While it may be difficult to narrow down a specific amount for monetary ROI on entertainment, you can include any other kind of benefit your sponsors might gain from participating. Feel free to break down their ROI in terms of exposure. You can also get creative with your ask, and encourage sponsors to provide samples, products, or services instead of just a monetary investment. As Eventbrite suggests, “For some sponsors, brand awareness isn’t enough. For them to sponsor your event, they’ll want to put their product or service in the hands of their customers — usually by offering them a free sample”. So don’t be afraid to look for entertainment sponsors that can provide something tangible to your attendees. It leaves a lasting impression and has tangible ROI for the sponsors. Don’t be afraid to think big and outside of the box. Look at the outcome of previous years, or talk to other people in your industry to gain reasonable expectations for your sponsors. Finally, once your pitch is sent out and approved, you can drop the details of your ask into a sponsorship contract, to continue to ensure you and your sponsor have clear expectations leading up to and during the event.

Event sponsor

Reciprocity with Your Event Sponsors

Once the event gets underway, fulfilling your contractual obligations to your sponsors is the bare minimum. The contract you establish with your sponsor will dictate how and when to promote them during your event, but going above and beyond makes your sponsors feel better about investing and leaves a lasting impression. For example, let’s say you have some artists who are sponsoring caricature drawings of your attendees. Offering to display their work or mentioning the activity and contact info before it happens can be a great way to promote the activity and build more brand awareness for all those involved. However, you can go above and beyond by linking to their accounts in your social media promotion, or offer to allow the artists to sell anything on display. This opens them up to a new audience of potential customers and leaves them feeling good about participating. Likewise, it’s key to remember to thank your sponsors often for their contributions, both at the event and after. For example, if the sponsored entertainment was caught on video, share it in your newsletter or on social media after the fact showing the good time your attendees had, thanks to the sponsor. Once your event is over, a good goal is that every attendee should know who sponsored the entertainment.

Final Note About Sponsors

Using sponsors for entertainment at your event is not only the best way to cut down on the expensive costs of hosting, it’s also a great way to bring in a unique activity for your attendees. Spend time beforehand choosing the right type of entertainment and be creative about the sponsors that would be willing to work with you to put that on. There is no limit to what you can put together for your attendees!

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