Sponsorships are a huge multi-billion dollar market around the world and an integral part of life events. According to IEG sponsors are expected to spend $24.2 billion in North America in 2018. However, while more dollars are being spent, sponsors are becoming harder to secure. IEG also found that almost six of out ten sponsors are looking to exit from at least one of their current sponsorships. This can be looked at as a positive as it means there are new opportunities for live events to attain new partnerships with brands that were previously engaged. The key is not only maintain good relations with the sponsors you already have but to also develop a solid plan for acquiring new ones. With the emergence of the digital era, the sponsorship game has changed and it is important to be equipped with the right knowledge and tools to succeed.
Utilizing digital channels as well as the data they produce is extremely helpful in this process. Another important step is ensuring that you are researching and reaching out to companies that are a right fit for your specific event. Finally, creating proposals that display the right benefits for the intended sponsor is another element that will help to lock in the right partnerships.
Research and Outreach
The key to a successful partnership is finding ones that are the right match for you. Research brands to make sure that their target demographic lines up with that of your event is essential. Proving to a brand that they will reach their target audience is a huge advantage when recruiting potential sponsors. It’s even better when you can show that they can reach a market they might have been struggling to get to. When looking up potential sponsors it is also important to make sure that their mission and vision line up with that of your event. If you have a more health and wellness focus then it would be advantageous to look for companies that fit into that segment. This helps to ensure that your sponsor will have a good ROI, since your audience aligns more closely with their business, and can also have an added benefit for your guests, who could benefit from the company hosting an activation on site.
Once you have a list of sponsors you want to reach out to, it is important to contact them in the correct way. Keep in mind that you are not just looking to bring them on for a one time event. Look at it as building a relationship, you want to be able to have a lasting partnership with these brands. A with building any new relationship, the key is to listen. Have initial conversations with the brands and find out what they want, what they need, and what they are looking to get out of potential partners.
“It’s all about them,” Larry Weil, the Sponsorship Guy says to Eventbrite. “You have to get your value proposition in the first five or six seconds and that requires study… What’s the value [to the sponsor]? ‘We help engage this audience.’ ‘We help reduce costs X.’ That’s what you have to be able to do.”
Photo of Sponsorship Guy from Eventbrite
What sponsors want most is to get an adequate return on investment (ROI) from their participation in a live event. As discussed in our entry about the importance of Data and Analytics, when working with a brand with an on-site activation it is important to provide them with key data points after so that they can fully see the benefits of working with the event. It is also important to gather key information about the event prior in order to help attract future sponsors.
“Digital advertising has changed things,” says Joe Waters of Selfish Giving tells Eventbrite. “The abundance of data and analytics in the digital world has greatly influenced how sponsors measure success in the real world.”
Basic data about the event like attendance number and a breakdown of the demographic are necessary but not the only things that are needed to be known. Social reach, digital footprint, and other key data points about an events online presence are also very useful when approaching potential brands. Companies want to know that they will not only see the impact of their sponsorship in person, but online as well. Also when compiling the basic data it is a huge advantage to dig a little deeper and leverage analytical tools to breakdown your demographic as much as possible.
Photo by Ginger Wesson
Highlighting the Right Benefits
Once you have gotten initial contact with potential sponsors and listening to their needs it is time to construct a proposal. You can really make your event stand out by promoting the right and unique benefits to prospects. Having the right benefits will also ensure that you are not just getting into a transaction based sponsorship with a company but a relationship based sponsorship. One great asset that is important illustrate is that your event can help the brand connect and engage with your audience. This goes back to having a deep and meaningful understanding of your attendees. Being able to demonstrate to brands that they will be able to reach their target audience is a huge draw for them to be a part of your event. Another huge benefit is that your event represents is not only can they connect with their target audience but they can discover key insights through your events survey. Including questions about sponsors and purchasing patterns can influence a brand to want to sponsor your event.
Finding sponsors can help your event tremendously. Not only will you benefit economically but having close relationships with brands can give your event more legitimacy and provide added benefits for your guests. The amount of sponsorship dollars has been growing but securing them for events has become more difficult. Having the right benefits, properly researching brands, contacting them keeping a focus on relationship building, leveraging the right data, and ensuring that you are highlighting the right benefits are all keys to acquiring sponsors.