For many event organizers, event sponsors are a major source of revenue that can be the difference between a profitable event and one that is a true money pit. But regardless of your event planning experience, finding, winning and keeping great event sponsors is a poorly understood and time-consuming undertaking.
Step 1: Finding The Right Event Sponsors
Before you begin searching for the perfect sponsor, you’ve got to know what a great sponsor actually looks like. To do that, you must first define the purpose or vision associated with your event. For example, if you’re organizing a tech conference focused on environmental solutions, your event purpose might be “To inspire event attendees about environmental innovation.”
For example, if you’re organizing a tech conference focused on environmental solutions, your event purpose might be “To inspire event attendees about environmental innovation. If you’re planning a marketing conference your vision might be “Building an ecosystem of digital marketers who have a mastery of online marketing tactics.”
If you’re planning a marketing conference your vision might be “Building an ecosystem of digital marketers who have a mastery of online marketing tactics.”
Once you understand the vision of your event, you should try to find sponsors that share that vision. Tesla or Solarcity would be great sponsors for an environmentally conscious conference, while Hubspot or MailChimp could be a fit for a digital marketing conference that hopes to educate attendees.
Another way of defining this vision is by analyzing the demographic and psychographic makeup of event attendees who have already signed up for the event, or who have attended previous events similar to the one you’re planning.
If for example you’ve noticed senior level sales managers often attend your conference on business strategy, a sponsor like SalesForce would be ideal.
Once you have a clear vision, and/or some data about your event attendees, you can begin searching for sponsors that fit your ideal sponsor profile.
Read industry publications and look for sponsored content, or ads on these websites. Companies that choose to invest in niche media outlets are likely to be interested in sponsoring your event as well.
Step 2: Pitching A Potential Sponsor
Once you’ve identified a few ideal sponsor companies, it’s time to master the art of cold outreach. Find decision makers in Marketing or PR departments and send them a short email asking if they have a few minutes to talk over the phone. Present a few interesting pieces of data to wet their appetite.
For example, if you want Microsoft to sponsor your innovation conference, let your contact know that 60% of people who attended last year’s event held senior positions in IT departments.
Presenting demographic information like this lets the recipient know that you’ve taken the time to understand their business goals, and that your conference has the potential to provide real value to the company.
After securing time to talk over the phone or in person, it’s critical that you gather any other data that supports your claim that a sponsorship opportunity will serve the company in question.
It’s also advisable to come with a clear promotion plan that demonstrates exactly how you intend to promote the sponsor before, during and after the event.
Step 3: Keeping An Event Sponsor
The most valuable sponsorships are long standing ones. It’s important that you try to maintain a great relationship with sponsors after an event has concluded, after all, you’ll most likely want the company to sponsor future events.
A great way to maintain long lasting sponsorships is by keeping them involved in the event planning process, and presenting them with a post event debrief.
During the event, be sure to come up with a sponsorship promotion plan taking their collaboration into account. Coming with a rough plan and asking for their feedback is a great way to go about this.
After the event, compile key metrics indicating the value your event provided the sponsor. Information about the number of people who visited their profile on your event website, or networking app could be a good start. Also include data about the potential sponsorship reach, and tie that into demographic information of attendees.
Conclusion: Sponsor In Perspective
While event sponsorship may seem like a daunting task, organizers should understand that sponsoring companies receive a great deal of value from live-event partnerships. Events and conferences are a powerful way for companies to get exposure to key decision makers, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do via other paid sources.
In truth, by following the three steps above, organizers are helping to insure they enter into mutually beneficial relationships that help both parties to achieve their bigger goals. The key to creating these partnerships starts with doing thoughtful research that is supported by your event data, and ends with your ability to nurture long-lasting collaborative relationships.