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We know event sponsorship can be an ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a necessary component that many event organizers struggle with. How to attract new sponsors? The standard process of approaching potential sponsors feels trustworthy yet tired: it lacks in innovative new methods to get more sponsors for an event. With the Whova event app, we have a few new tricks up our sleeve to make this process a bit more promising.
If you’ve planned and organized an event, you know that the big day can’t go on without sponsors. Finding the perfect partners for your event is a crucial step in ensuring a great experience for your attendees. These collaborators will ensure that you have a meaningful message and help to contribute to an authentic conversation with all participants. You also want to encourage sponsorship team members to get creative when connecting with your mutual audience. As the organizer, you want to plan the best event possible. If you’ve planned many events in the past, you may have had to face a financial fork in the road: use your own money to throw the perfect event or come up short after a subpar sponsorship search. Why would any organizer want to throw a lackluster event or go into debt from the perfect conference? A well-prepared, positive outlook on finding the perfect sponsors is the key to offering plenty of exposure for all participants involved and ensuring that many more events can take place in the future!
We’ve all heard that event sponsorship is like a wedding proposal…”don’t ask them to marry you on the first date.” Are you really proposing to a stranger? Or have you done your homework? Once you’re armed with solid preparation, great timing and a phenomenal tool kit, we can assure you that integrating a few simple strategies for finding sponsors into your event organization plan will do the trick.
#1 Do You Know Your Demographic?
Take a moment to reflect on your mission and who your fan base is. The folks who are familiar with you and stand with your message are your platform. Now, you’ll want to keep in mind the market you’re going to pursue and do plenty of research about it. Whether your niche is nonprofits or nanotech, take a dive right into understanding the routines and trends of your target market. When founding the Women’s Small Business Expo, Linda Hollander took advantage of free information about her demographic. She stated:
“Find out the spending power and purchasing habits of your target market. Research the median income and educational level. Consider the publications your demographic reads. Then ask for media kits from those publications. According to Hollander, media kits will reveal amazing things about your demographic–all provided for free.”
Your comprehension of how your fans and key market behave is a huge help for the next step in strategizing.
#2 Whova App for Networking & Unforgettable Ways for Sponsors to Shine
Sponsors love our app, and some are happy to cover the cost of the Whova app for your event. Once you unlock paperless networking with Whova, you can begin your outreach and research into potential sponsors. Share your brand and connect with people nearby or thousands of miles away. After securing sponsors, you can host your partners’ logos with banners and listenings for long after the event is done. Brands will want to be remembered with a meaningful experience and beautiful branding on every outlet you offer up. Share your stunning backdrop, specs, and every element of publicity you can deliver upfront.
#3 Your Marketing Needs: Sponsor Levels and Benefits
Upfront, place a value on each and every benefit you’ll be offering so you can evaluate an idea of what sponsorship levels you’ll want to sell. Remember, pricing levels should be unique and tempt past partners to contribute even more than your last event. Adaptability will be a crucial trait, as some partners will be interested in trade, product donations and various marketing ideas–creativity and open-mindedness will go a long way here. Sponsors should be integrated in a sincere, significant way, which could be everything from a distinctive addition to the swag bag to transforming the event into a team-building trip. For a strong example of creative sponsorship perks, take a look at SXSW’s 2015 Marketing Deck.
#4 Make a Perfect Pitch and Build Better Sponsor Relationships
You’re simply calling to talk, but be mindful of when. Regardless of what type of event you’re organizing, being wary of the best and busiest times to call will help your proposal. Each company will have a different culture to tailor your timing for. A great way to get a head start on avoiding any roadblocks is to simply call human relations and ask when the ideal time may be to contact the appropriate person. It is HR’s responsibility to make their business look great, so more often than not, these folks will be the guiding light to pitching a perfect sponsorship game. According to Idealist, who you’ll speak with will depend on the size of the company. Your contact at small companies will likely be the business owner themselves; at medium-size companies, the marketing or HR department will be your point of contact; and large companies you’ll probably be directed to their sponsorship department. Regardless of company size, you’ll want to reach out months in advance.
Here’s what to do when reaching out to potential sponsors:
- Check their sponsorship guidelines, when possible: If you’re approaching corporations, keep in mind that big companies are hounded with requests like this constantly. Corporations may have sponsorship guidelines and a planned budget for the year (usually October) so think ahead and act early if they seem like a perfect fit.
- Make an emotional connection: Telling a life-altering story to someone who has to decide whether to give you money can be the start of an amazing connection.
- Communicate what your mission is and why organizing this event is important to you and your organization. Cultivate a connection based on any shared values you and your sponsors both support.
- Ask for help: If you’re new to this, seek experienced advisors to help you with the entire proposal process. You should be asking your volunteers, staff and board for suggestions and their connections.
- Like we said earlier, know your key market. This will help convince them that your event is the perfect event for them to become involved with.
- Keep it concise: Brevity can dazzle. 20 seconds is plenty of time to introduce your conference, audience, mission, and any press that will be present.
- Have your amazing benefits for sponsors prepared to share: (Make sure to display a list of your previous sponsors proudly along with some key attributes of your last audience.)
- That goes for pricing, too: Be ready to ask for the money.
- If they’re not interested in sponsorship, they still may want to participate or even volunteer at your event. This is a priceless way to foster new connections.
#5 Double, Triple Check Everything
Long after you get sponsors for your event, even the most seasoned event managers anticipate forgetting something important. To avoid the frustration of that grim feeling, we have put together some refreshers to jog your memory.
- Promote Sponsors During the Event: This can as simple as a “Hello, My Name Is” badge, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Let your partners know how you will be showcasing your sponsors during your event and provide them with plenty of ways to communicate with attendees.
- Communicate with Sponsors: Attendees will require plenty of efforts in crystal clear communication, but don’t leave out your sponsors! Designate someone to solely ensure that sponsors stay happy and stay in the loop during the course of your event.
- Share the Recap: Often forgotten, but this step has plenty of value for your sponsors. Keep sponsor relationships strong for the long-haul with a handy recap of your big day. This should feature metrics like how many attendees came, top social media moments, survey results or anything you can tailor to their experience with you.
These five steps should be your key to the perfect sponsorship strategy, to help you bring together a cohesive event that aligns with your goals while providing your sponsors with as much bang for their bucks. What success have you had with attracting event sponsors? We would love to know any tips or additional steps you use.