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Photo: Billy Farrell Agency

Using Event Sponsorship as a Marketing Tool

The world of live event marketing is as competitive as ever. This is why it's important for event marketers to be thinking of new ways to get the word out and spread awareness for their events. One way to boost your reach is to use sponsorship and our sponsors as a marketing tool for your event. Working with sponsors represents a huge opportunity for events to offset their bottom line, as total North American sponsorship spending in 2018 was predicted to be $24.2 billion.

The world of live event marketing is as competitive as ever. This is why it’s important for event marketers to always be thinking of new ways to get the word out. One unique way to boost your reach is to use sponsorship as a marketing tool. Working with sponsors represents a huge opportunity for events to offset their bottom line as total North American Sponsorship spending in 2018 was predicted to be $24.2 billion.

However, the benefits can be more than monetary.

When done correctly, the right partnership can also give an event more reach, becoming a great marketing asset. Conversely, for a sponsor, investing in an event can also bring about many new avenues for marketing as well. From in person connections, to the online content generated from the event, there are a multitude of ways that a sponsorship can be leveraged by a brand's marketing team.

For all parties involved, a sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool when used correctly.

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Securing the Right Event Sponsorship

Sponsorship can take many forms, but the best are those which create a symbiotic relationship for both the event and the company. For major brands, the opportunity to connect with audiences in unique and memorable ways is often the main motivator for wanting to spend dollars on a live event. For live event organizers, they not only want the financial contributions from their sponsors, but also have the chance to elevate the experience for their guests and attendees, while also reaching the sponsor's audience.

From lounges to art installations, brand activations help to not only build brand awareness for the sponsor, but also get attendees more engaged with the event itself. The main key to this being successful is to concentrate on companies that align with the live event's ethos and audience. If this does not happen, then the sponsorship can be perceived as inauthentic and the brand will not be able to connect with attendees as well. For example, a vegan festival would not want to bring on a beef jerky company as a sponsor (unless it was a faux jerky company but you get the point). By hosting a sponsor that aligns with the organization's ethos you have the ability to reach parts of that brand's audience that may have never heard of your event.

Build Brand Awareness

The biggest goal for either side of a sponsorship is to build brand awareness. This starts from the moment a sponsor is added to the event's website or a sponsor announces they will be at an event. The announcement itself represents a great marketing opportunity for all parties involved. Utilizing an announcement video or creative graphic are two high energized ways to kick things off. 

Leveraging the Sponsorship Correctly

While the relationship initially started so the sponsor can use the live event itself as a channel to promote their brand to a targeted audience, there is no reason why that brand can’t help to boost the reach of the event as well. This can be done informally through creating a relationship that encourages mutual cross promotion, or formally with stipulations written down in the sponsorship agreement. Typically a company will require some sort of social posting on the events platforms, but an event could, and should depending on the brand's reach, request that the brand post about the event on their marketing channels. This will probably be done regardless since it's a great content opportunity, but it cana't hurt to have this in writing.

By working together on a marketing plan, everyone involved in the sponsorship can benefit greatly. Making memorable moments like when Irish Spring broke a world record at Firefly Festival is a great way to get the event coverage in local and national media outlets. Utilizing sponsors to create more ancillary experiences at a live event is another way to elevate the in-person experience and give an event more material to market.

From whatever angle you look at it, when a sponsorship is leveraged correctly it can be a powerful marketing tool. The key is to view it as one, and use it accordingly.

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In Conclusion

For any live event organizer, sponsorships are extremely beneficial. Not only do they help with an event's bottom line, but they can help to enhance the overall experience of the event for attendees. An additional benefit for both the event and the brand, are the various ways the sponsorship can be used as a marketing tool. The first step is making sure that the partnership aligns well with the vision of the festival and that its attendees can relate to the brand. When there is this synergy, it not only creates a better sponsorship, but makes the marketing feel more authentic. Sponsorships represent an important opportunity for both a brand and a live event to build positive brand awareness with targeted audiences. 

Don’t miss the session “Using Sponsorship as a Marketing Tool” hosted by CJ Smith, Content Manager at XLIVE, Ms. María Fernanda Fernández Delgado, the Academic Coordinator of the Entertainment Business Management Program at the Anahuac Cancun University, and Chris Herche, Head of Marketing at Cinematic Music Group. 

The XLIVE Conference this year is taking place November 17 - 20, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada get your tickets and more information here!

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