Blog Cover - Sponsor Engagement


After all the money, time, and energy you put into coordinating your big event, wouldn’t it be stellar to have more interaction and engagement from your sponsors? It can be done, that’s for sure. However, not all sponsors are as invested as you might hope. How do you get them to go all-in and engage in a big way? What’s the key to make your event memorable not only for them, but exhibitors and attendees, too, all while enticing sponsors to support your event year after year?

The answer can be broken down into a marketing technique that’s surprisingly simple: adding value. While it sounds easy, acting on this, however, can be more of a challenge because everyone internalizes value very differently. Some sponsors will want to see value for themselves, others may want to see the value you’re adding to the event, or community at large. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when crafting the value your event provides.


Cultivate Non-Sponsor Relationships

It’s likely been said before, but you never know when a business or individual you’ve spoken to in the past may have a change of heart. To add a level of integrity to your event, you want to maintain a positive outlook and continue to build relationships to those who haven’t jumped on your bandwagon. Eventually, they may become your biggest ambassadors because they know how you treat the event, and prospects as a whole. As your events grow in popularity, for example, any naysayers may find their way back to you via positive reviews, or friends who have been to the event. How you engage with those who choose not to sponsor you can positively (or negatively) impact their experience and willingness to change their minds. Always remember to cultivate all relationships as if they’re going to sign up at any time and stay on for the long haul. You never know when you might be right.


Provide Year-long Programs

Depending on your event, you may want to consider how you could develop a year-long sponsorship program, rather than a one-off event. By doing so, you’re able to ask for more money from each sponsor, while opening up yourself to providing value to them throughout the year. This gives your sponsors the opportunity to give more without feeling like everything is hinging upon a single event. For further actionable tips on how to get more sponsors to sign up for your event, check out this article.


Get into the Mind of Your Sponsors

Your event may have all the makings of something great, but if your sponsors don’t see the value to their company, they won’t want to engage—or worse—return. It’s important to always keep in mind your event is first and foremost an opportunity for your sponsors to connect and capture the interest of their own target audience. Through communicating with all of your sponsors early, not only are you cultivating the relationship you have with them, but you’re also given the unique opportunity to understand their end game so you can throw a more effective event. With a little understanding, you’re better able to boost their success, as well as your own. When you do this, your sponsors not only engage more enthusiastically, they want to come back year after year because they know they’re right where they need to be. This is especially true when you take on each event as its own, ensuring it’s tailored to the sponsors and interests presenting each year, rather than relying on what worked in the past. The way you accomplish this is by keeping those communication lines open with your sponsors, both past and present. Before you begin planning, reach out to them to find out how their needs may have changed since the last event and seek out ways to support those needs.


Embrace Technology

Technology has been changing the way we promote sponsorships and exhibitors at events for the past few years. After all, we live in a digital world, why not embrace the hybrid between the digital and reality? What’s resulted is a more interactive experience that can guide attendees through an event, engage them with exhibitors and sponsors alike, and give everyone in attendance an experience to remember. When you use a mobile app, like the one Whova provides, your options for supporting your sponsors increases exponentially. Promotional activities, contests, targeted lead generation are just a few of the ways technology will add value. What’s more, you can add last minute sponsors and exhibitors with ease (try doing that with pre-printed flyers and vinyl banners).


Hold Your Sponsors Accountable

Having specific, actionable goals you’re trying to reach and being able to relay that information to your sponsors will help them feel like there’s more at stake than just another promotional event. We all like to feel like what we’re doing makes a difference. Let your sponsors into the inner sanctum and explain exactly what you need from them; then hold them to it. If you need their help to actively participate and engage with attendees, give them a goal to reach towards. Trust us, they don’t mind!


Collect Attendee Feedback

It’s not only important to know the success of an event from your point of view, and that of your sponsors. It’s also important to know how your attendees felt things went. Through collecting attendee feedback, you can analyze the information, then relay relevant details to your sponsors. This will help you all to adapt and craft an even better event next year. It also shows your sponsors the level of dedication you have to improving upon the event and continuing to increase the value as time goes on.


Continue Outreach Afterward

We cannot stress enough how huge it is to continue to support and build your relationship with your sponsors once the event has ended. Don’t just drop them afterward and hope they return, because it likely won’t happen. Instead, reach out to them with thank you’s, detailing how successful the event was. Let them know the final outcome, how many people attended, or how much money the event raised. Provide them with specialized packets to showcase how you promoted them before, during, and after the event. Reach out to ask them how they felt the event performed. Ask what worked for them and what could be improved upon in their perspective. Keep records to improve upon for next time, and to also provide talking points going forward as you reconnect over the year. Send email updates, newsletters, and perhaps mailings (think Christmas cards) when appropriate. However, a special to note for non-profit events: don’t go overboard with mailings. Not all sponsors will feel this is the best use of the resources they may be providing with their support. Trust your instincts; you know your sponsors best.   


We know finding the best solution to engaging your sponsors and creating a stellar event are important to you. Which is why it’s key to actively seek out the ways you can add value to their experience. Did you find the information in this article useful? We’d love to hear what you think about our suggestions. Do you have more insight to offer? Leave us a comment in the section below. If you liked what you read, be sure to share it with your network.


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