We’ve been in this business a while, and we understand that a huge part of being a successful event planner is effectively promoting your event sponsors so that they keep coming back year after year. To help you out, we’ve compiled our favorite lessons that keep event sponsors happy. You’ll find out exactly how to steward these relationships before, during, and after your event to not only make each sponsor feel personally attended to, but also to keep your own sanity while handling all of the event details.
1. DO: Think Outside the Box for Sponsorship Packages
When you’re first pulling together proposals to pitch to potential sponsors, you’ll most likely offer pre-designed packages for varying levels of promotion. However, don’t be afraid to also propose customized perks designed specifically for one major sponsor. You can even advertise this feature in your proposal. Conclude your letter by saying something like, “If you have a sponsorship idea you don’t see on our list, we can create a custom package for your company. Contact me to discuss how we can help promote your brand at the Young Business Leaders Conference.” Your personalized service will stand out so that they keep coming back to sponsor year after year.
2. DON’T: Target Irrelevant Leads
You might be tempted to cast a wide net and hit as many potential sponsors as possible, regardless of how relevant they are to your event’s mission. But refrain from being too indiscriminate with your leads, otherwise you’re likely to waste time — both yours and the prospect’s. Even if a lead who doesn’t have much in common with your event does decide to become a sponsor, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to deliver them with satisfactory results, and everyone will be unhappy as a consequence. If you don’t share any goals or target audience with a company, look elsewhere for sponsors.
3. DO: Be Realistic with Expectations
This is another lesson that benefits both you as an event planner and your sponsors. Before you even send out your event sponsorship proposal, make sure you are able to deliver on your promises. That means coordinating with your vendors and venue in advance to ensure space for signage, exhibitors and any other details you plan on offering sponsors. If a sponsor asks you for a customized package, don’t say yes right away if you’re not sure about the specifics. Instead, confidently assure them that you’re happy to make something work and will respond back as soon as possible with a plan.
4. DON’T: Go Over-Budget on Sponsor Promotion
Not only do you need to manage expectations in terms of capabilities, you also need to do so in terms of budget. And when we say budget, we mean both money and time. Because you obviously need to make sure that the sponsor’s contribution covers their promotion and potentially leaves money leftover, depending on the overall fundraising needs of your organization. But you should also value your time as an important asset. All too often we see event planners getting stretched far too thin, particularly in the days and weeks leading up to an event. Make sure you have both the monetary and human resources to deliver on every sponsorship package.
5. DO: Create Metrics for Success
We find it helpful to work with sponsors to determine metrics for success. This is beneficial for two reasons. The first is that it makes sure everyone is on the same page. We talked about setting expectations earlier, and metrics for success is a complementary step that allows everyone to understand why a certain promotion opportunity is important, whether you’re trying to target a specific audience or advertise a sponsor’s new product. Afterwards, you can establish how well you’ve done your job. This leads us to the second reason you should create metrics: leveraging them for future sponsors. The next time you plan a similar event, you’ll have compelling statistics to show your leads; for example, you could easily demonstrate how former sponsors saw spikes in their social media campaigns or amassed a certain number of targeted leads from your event.
6. DON’T: Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Event planners wear a hundred different hats and rarely perform the same task day in and day out. In order to properly steward your sponsors, it’s important to know when to ask for help. Check to see if there is room in your budget to hire a temp or an intern. If your organization has a strong employee development program, you could offer an event ambassador position. The idea is to get a few hours of help from someone in another department in exchange for teaching them about your job. Or maybe one of your sponsors has a large marketing department or a helpful administrative assistant you could make use of. Get creative in finding the help you need when you need an extra set of hands.
7. DO: Stay On Top of Technology Trends
The best way to attract sponsors is to demonstrate the value of your event while setting yourself apart from your competition. An innovative way of doing this is by integrating technology into your event platform. Incorporate a conference hashtag on Twitter or create an interactive Facebook event page. You can also use a sponsor-friendly app like Whova to create a mobile brochure and add new sponsorship appreciation opportunities. The more unique ways you can increase your the brand visibility of your sponsors, the more success you’ll have in retaining their financial support in the future.
8. DON’T: Change What’s Already Working
If your company is like most others these days, then you are constantly being asked what you can do to improve and change your line of business. You might even feel like you’re evaluating your work more than you actually perform your work! But that doesn’t mean you have to fix things that aren’t broken, especially when you have recurring sponsors who appreciate a proven business model. Always innovate, but also don’t be afraid to keep what works.
9. DO: Ask for Constructive Feedback
That being said,there’s always room for improvement to some degree. Ask your sponsors for feedback on what is and isn’t working directly after the event, while it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. If you wait too long, no one will remember small details that can easily be changed next year. This is a fantastic way of positively engaging your sponsors and making sure they know their opinions are important. Of course, make sure you act on any feedback that is reasonable and do-able, otherwise you run the risk of making your sponsors feel like they aren’t being heard.
10. DON’T: Forget to Create Lasting Relationships
Turn one-time sponsors into recurring sponsors by fostering a positive relationship even after your event comes to a close. There are a number of ways you can continue to promote your sponsors through your available networks. Do a follow-up post on social media and share photos with the sponsor’s brand visible in the background. If someone won a prize from your sponsor, interview the winner and write a blog about them. Steward your sponsor relationships just as you would any other client. You won’t just keep them coming back each time, you’ll ideally convert them into even higher-level sponsors once they see how much value you add.
There’s nothing like experience when it comes to learning the best ways to promote your sponsors — and keep them. We hope tis list of do’s and don’ts has given you creative ways to make your next event a huge success for you and your sponsors.
Do you have your own story to tell? Let us know your biggest lessons learned in the comments section. And don’t forget to share this article with your favorite event planners!