Planning, organizing and executing an event is no child’s play. From start to finish, a lot of resources would be required to be deployed for the success of your event, and funding is surely a major one. If your event is not already fully funded, you may want to consider getting a few sponsors on board who can help lighten the load on your shoulders. But the ‘how’ of doing that can be really daring and scary. Hey, we’ve got you on this one.
In this post, we have prepared a fail-proof and risk-free strategy to you can use to approach potential event sponsors for your next event.
First, Build Your Prospective Sponsors List
To get you started, you must know that not every individual and company would be a fitting sponsor for your event. It does seem like finding a treasure chest if you can get all the corporate bodies in your city to sponsor your event, but if you take a deeper look, you’d find that some aren’t actually adding any value to your brand, even when they throw some bucks around.
To put simply, you should avoid event sponsorship mismatch. This happens when companies with entirely different value proposition are partnered with events that have no brand relationship with either party. Can you imagine a sports fashion brand like Nike sponsoring a conference on robotics engineering or a mask party? Think about it. What you need to do is to do a research on prospective sponsors for your event who are also related in one way or another to your event goals or value proposition.
To do this, you can create categories according to your event needs, industry specifics, brand appeal, target demographics, audience appeal, etc. While researching these prospects, simply fill the categories with their names and contact details.
Look Within Your Personal Network
You may not know this, but half of the sponsors you are ever going to need for your event can potentially be sourced from your personal network if you look within. Personal network, here, does not refer entirely to family and friends that you relate to on a frequent basis. It can also stretch to your social media following, especially on LinkedIn. These are viable platforms that allow you connect with industry leaders and brands that can potentially sponsor your event.
So, your first outward action should be to reach out to these networks (online and offline) to see if they can add any form of value to your event, whether they would be willing to sponsor it, and the role they would be willing to play.
Give Your Event a Professional Brand
Remember how you’d look up a company’s website to evaluate their brand visibility and professional credibility in your bid to enter into a working relationship or simply do business with them? That’s the same way that corporate bodies look your event up when you first reach out to them. They are going to look you up online, visit your site and browse the web for mentions to see if you are visible and credible.
To increase your chances of being considered for sponsorship by your prospects, you should do any of the following to gain some brand visibility and credibility:
- Create a logo and event brand design
- Build an event website, app or chatbot
- Create social media profiles for your event and promote your pages
- Prepare an event brochure and put on your website for more information
- Run ads on social media to reach more audience and gain more mentions
Remember, by sponsoring you, a company is aligning its brand image with yours, and if your brand doesn’t reflect a professional and credible image, you may need only luck to get them on your side.
Make Your First Pitch (Don’t Cold Call)
At this stage, we want to believe that you have all your event information like the goal, date, proposed venue, proposed budget, etc., sorted out. Armed with that and your professional event brand, you can now reach out to your prospects with teasers. Avoid cold calling them at this stage!
You would think calling potential sponsors would be a more personal and effective method of getting instant feedback, but the truth is that companies are just as dismissive to event organizers as they are to cold-calling salespersons. What do you do? You should know by now that any corporate body that does not have some form of online presence like social media can be considered an ‘outlaw’. For the many who do, interacting with them via direct messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or send them an email introducing yourself and your event to them.
Your intent here should not be to get their “yes or no” response but to get them informed and wanting more. This might even put them in the consideration journey of a potential working relationship with you.
Customize Your Sponsorship Proposal According to Each Prospect
At this stage, it’s safe to assume that you’ve gotten some green light from one or two of the prospects you reached out to and they’ve asked you to send them an event proposal for further consideration. This should sound as great news, however, it’s also where the major work begins. This is because your event proposal is your one and only opportunity to impress them and probably get them to give you the nod. You don’t want to mess this up.
To succeed at this, your proposal needs to contain some basic ingredients like:
- Your event’s mission or cause
- What you offer that is of value to sponsors
- What differentiates your event from others
- What defines your event’s audience (size and key characteristics)
- How the sponsor will benefit from the relationship
In all of these, remember to keep your communication personalized and customized to each prospect’s uniqueness. This helps them find their piece in your mission.
Locate the Decision Maker
As you approach potential sponsors with your customized and winning sponsorship proposal, remember that your goal is not to sell sponsorship but to find the decision maker and ask for a meeting.
Locating and pitching to decision makers like Marketing Heads, CEOs, etc., is a major prerequisite for the success of your bid. You can accomplish this in a number of different ways. For example, having done your background check on your prospect, you may want to ‘stalk’ them by attending the same events as them so that you can get a chance to speak with them and get a business card and contact information for future communication.
Be warned, however, that it might not seem as easy as said, still, what might get you favored would be the extent of your research, preparation, richness of your pitch. By the way, social media is another good channel for ‘stalking’ your prospect without even attending events with them.
Follow up! Follow up!! Follow up!!!
It’s easy to come up with the excuse that you got too busy with the event planning and management that you forgot to follow up with the prospects that you have sought sponsorship from. This might be true, yet, unnecessary. Your sponsors are vital ingredients in the jigsaw puzzle that is your event. If you had all the resources needed, you wouldn’t have reached out to them in the first place.
That said, it is important that you are in constant, but not spammy and disturbing communication with all the prospects that are yet to respond to you. It is in your best interest to contact all, not some, but all of them that are yet to respond, unless you have nicked a few deals that render other similar sponsorship categories unimportant.
Deliver and Deliver Extra
You need not be told to follow through on every promise and commitment in your sponsorship agreement with each sponsor, because not only do you fancy doing business with them again, but you also don’t want any lawsuit or the stigma that comes with other sponsors knowing you as a reneger.
Fulfill your promises, make your sponsors happy, do more even by offering them a few benefits that were not initially bargained and you might have yourself a lifetime sponsor for subsequent editions or new events.