Sponsorships remain one of the best ways to fund an event, but let’s admit it, getting sponsorships for your event is often very challenging, especially if you don’t know where to look.
So, how do you find the right sponsors for your event?
Instead of blindly targeting everyone and anyone who could be potential sponsors, it’s important to focus your time and resources well by targeting only those with a high likelihood of sponsoring the types of events you are currently doing.
While admittedly, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula you can use to guarantee sponsorships, below we’ll share our step-by-step guide to effectively increase your chance of securing the right sponsors for your event.
By the end of this guide, you’d have learned about:
- How to define sponsorship criteria for your event
- How to identify ideal sponsors for your event
- How to research target companies and identify how your event can provide value to them
- How to convince target sponsors to sponsor your event with an effective proposal
Without further ado, let us begin by learning the best practices of selling more sponsorships.
Best Practices on Securing Event Sponsorships
Approaching the right sponsors the right way is the key to increasing the likelihood of success in securing event sponsorships, and here are some best practices to follow:
1. Focus on how you can provide value
Sponsorships should be a win-win scenario: your sponsor(s) provides value in the form of funding, and they should also get value from your event.
It’s important to embrace the fact that your target sponsors want something from you, and your job is to identify what you can offer your target sponsors that will align well with their unique marketing strategy and/or business objectives.
The value you are offering must be tangible, and yes, it should be more than simply adding extra visits to their website and extra followers to their social profiles.
For example, if you share a similar demographic audience, leverage this fact and convince your target sponsors with data.
The better you can identify how you can provide value, and the better you can convince target sponsors about this value, the more successful you’ll be.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask and negotiate
This might be easier said than done.
Your company is the one seeking funding, so you naturally need the sponsors more than the other way around. So, don’t be afraid to be direct and ask your target sponsors what they want and what they are going to expect from your event.
By knowing what your target sponsors want, you can customize a sponsorship package to fulfil their requests. However, don’t be afraid to negotiate and offer alternatives if you feel you can offer a more win-win package.
3. Data is everything
Again, sponsors want to know how your company can provide value, so they want to see data showing:
- Whether your event will be successful
- Whether your claim(s) about your event’s value is valid
Litter your sponsorship proposal with spreadsheets, charts, and other useful forms of information, including estimated attendance, social media numbers, data from past events, click-through rates of the event’s marketing campaigns, and more.
While you can also include testimonials, quotes from relevant influencers, and other intangibles in your proposal, most sponsors will prefer raw data. Also, don’t forget to keep your data up-to-date.
4. Timing is key
You’ll need to take into account the target sponsor’s event budget, as most companies will only sponsor events at certain times of the year, which can vary depending on various factors like industry, the company’s current performance, and so on.
While there are companies that will sponsor events year-round, most will have a more limited budget during certain months nonetheless. So, it’s important to research your target sponsors first and identify their peak sponsoring time. If necessary, schedule the event around the peak time of your main target sponsors to maximize success.
5. Offer options
Even if you’ve asked your potential sponsors about what they want, it’s better to provide multiple tiers/levels of sponsorship packages. Giving potential sponsors the right amount of options can significantly increase the likelihood of success in securing sponsors.
We will further discuss how you can include multiple tiered options in your proposal later on in this guide, but it’s also important not to include too many options, which may end up confusing the potential sponsor. Finding the right balance is important.
Step-By-Step Guide To Get Sponsors for Your Event
Now that we’ve understood the five best practices in securing event sponsorships, we are going to put these principles into actual practice.
Let us begin with the first step.
Step 1: Understand your event in and out
Securing event sponsorship is essentially about “selling” your event to prospective buyers– the sponsors.
So, approach this sponsorship campaign just as you would with selling or marketing other products: identify your event’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP). What makes your event unique from its competitors?
The more clearly and accurately you can define your event’s unique selling points, and communicate these with potential sponsors, the higher the likelihood you’ll be able to secure sponsorships.
Below are some questions to ask to help you identify your event’s unique selling points:
- What is the theme of the event?
- What’s the event’s overall vision?
- What goals and objectives are you trying to achieve through the event?
- What are the values of your brand and the event?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, the next step is to identify potential companies (the “prospective buyers”) that may be interested in sponsoring the event. We’ll cover this in the next step.
Step 2: Identify why sponsors may want to sponsor your event
In this step, our focus is to understand why your target sponsors are looking for sponsorship opportunities.
Remember that for these companies, sponsorship is an investment. The better you can prove that your event can provide a great return on their investments, the more likely they’re going to sponsor it.
So, in developing your event sponsorship campaign, it’s crucial to understand the different types of event ROI that your target sponsors are expecting. Below are some values you might want to communicate to potential sponsors while “selling” your event:
- Lead generation: gaining more potential customers (lead generation) remains one of the biggest challenges for many companies, and so many are looking at the prospect of getting more leads through event sponsorship.
- Valuable audience demographic: companies may have a difficult time tapping into a certain demographic due to one reason or another, and if your event can attract this target audience, this can be a very valuable proposition for the target sponsors. Also, many companies will only sponsor events that target similar audiences to theirs.
- Social media exposure: it’s no secret that social media presence is a very valuable asset in this digital era and many companies look at event sponsorships as an opportunity to improve their social media performance. If your event can potentially help companies in social media exposure, then you may be able to attract companies that are looking to promote their own social media channels.
Obviously, there are other values that you can offer to companies so they’d want to sponsor your event, and those three above are just some of the most common examples. The key is to understand their motivation and their why, so you can communicate these values effectively in your event proposal.
Step 3: Identify the criteria of your ideal sponsors
It’s crucial to focus your efforts on the right target sponsors with the highest likelihood of sponsoring your events, so your time and resources won’t go to waste.
So, the next step is about establishing the criteria for the types of sponsors that you want to target, which will be crucial in securing your sponsorships.
Here are some examples of factors you can include in your list of criteria:
- Certain brand and company values that align well with yours
- Companies with a certain mission
- Companies that have sponsored similar events in the past
- Companies that just launched a product, and the product’s target market aligns with your market’s target audience
And so on.
The goal of having this list of criteria is to identify target sponsors that align well with your event’s vision and objectives, so you can maximize the likelihood of securing sponsorship.
The key to ensuring success in this step is to aim to build healthy, long-term partnerships rather than solely focusing on securing funding. What types of companies will be an ideal partner for your event? What are the core brand values you’d look for in a partner?
The more specific and comprehensive your criteria for sponsors is, the more likely you’ll be able to ensure successful sponsorships.
Step 4: Identify and research target companies
Based on the list of criteria you’ve defined above and the previous steps, now it’s finally time to actively search for ideal companies as your target.
Again, the more complete and clear your criteria are, the easier this step will be, and the goal is to search for potential sponsors that are more likely to sponsor your event and with values while also aligning well with your event’s brand values.
While there are numerous approaches you can use to identify your target sponsors, here are a few tips:
- A great place to start is to check for other events similar to yours and check out their sponsors (should be available on their website and social media pages)
- Develop a buyer persona and identify your event’s target audience. Look for companies that share a similar target audience to your event
- Survey your target attendees (i.e. monitoring their social media interactions) and identify brands they often interact with. This customer-centric approach can also be useful in attracting potential attendees.
- There are online platforms that you can use to find potential sponsors, like SponsorMyEvent and Sponseasy, among others. You can also use these platforms to help you create personalized sponsorship packages for each target sponsor.
Create a shortlist for potential sponsors, and research these companies thoroughly. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when researching potential sponsors:
- What is the target sponsor’s potential reason to sponsor your event?
- What are the target sponsor’s brand values?
- What benefits will you offer the sponsor?
- Does the company have a sufficient budget to sponsor your event?
- Does the company have a separate marketing or advertising department? (companies with dedicated marketing departments tend to sponsor more events)
And so on.
Remember that the better you understand your target sponsors and why they might be interested in sponsoring your event, the higher likelihood of success.
Step 5: Identify key decision-makers
Securing sponsorships is essentially securing a B2B business deal, and when dealing with other companies, we have to embrace the fact that there may be several decision-makers in the company.
Identifying these decision-makers and reaching out to these individuals as soon as possible will be key in securing your sponsorship deals.
You can use platforms like LinkedIn to identify these key individuals, then use tools like Hunter.io to find their contact information (email address). In the next steps, you’ll send personalized event sponsorship proposals to these individuals, but first, we should research these key decision-makers to identify their behavior, preferences, and other information that may help you in crafting an ideal proposal that will be effective in persuading them to sponsor your event.
Step 6: Prepare your valuable data
If you want your proposal to be effective, it should be data-driven.
Again, for potential sponsors, sponsoring your event is an investment, and showing relevant data is an effective way to prove to them that your event can provide a good return for their investments.
Here are the types of data you should include in your event proposal:
- Primary audience data. If you’ve hosted previous events, include attendance data from past events. The more detailed you can provide demographics data, the better.
- Event survey data from past events
- Analytics from past events
- Images and short videos (1-2 minute long) showcasing past events or your company culture if you are a brand new event organizer
- Estimation of lead value the sponsoring company can expect
And so on.
The more valuable data you can present to potential sponsors, the higher the chance you can secure sponsorships. This is why having a robust event management software solution is crucial so you can keep track of your event’s performance, record the data, and use this captured data in your future proposals.
Step 7: Preparing sponsorship packages
The next step is to design your sponsorship packages, complete with different sponsorship options.
In your sponsorship proposal, you should present these sponsorship options as clearly as possible, so your target sponsors can clearly understand the structure and format of your offers.
There are two basic approaches you can use in building sponsorship packages:
- Tiered packages
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to build a tiered sponsorship package:
Step 1: Design your tier levels
Decide on the number of tiers/levels you are going to offer, and use attractive names to describe each level. You can name your levels or tiers as creatively as possible, or you can use a basic naming scheme like “Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze.” If you can create naming schemes that fit your event’s brand or theme, then it’s even better.
Step 2: Decide on the required number of sponsors per tier
First, identify a funding goal, and determine how many packages of each tier level you need to sell in order to achieve this funding goal. The higher tiers should be more exclusive, so they should be more limited in quantity. In fact, offering exclusive, limited packages can be effective in encouraging prospective sponsors to commit earlier.
Step 3: Decide on sponsorship benefits per tier
Fairly obvious: the higher the tier, the more high-value benefits you’ll offer. Here is a simple example of a tiered sponsorship package:
- Gold ($10,000): Displayed company profile on sponsor page, 2 banner ads, custom home screen advertisement with links to company profile, sponsor ribbons on sponsor listing page
- Silver ($5,000): 1 Banner ad, sponsor ribbons on sponsor listing page
- Bronze ($1,000): sponsor ribbons on sponsor listing page
- A la carte packages
If you want to send a personalized proposal to potential sponsors looking to achieve specific goals, you can use this approach. These packages should be personalized, so each of your prospective sponsors will get different offers, and below is an example of an a la carte sponsorship package:
For Company X
- Include company X’s logo on the event registration page and any marketing communications promoting the event
- 10 social media mentions before the event while promoting events
- Include pre-event sponsored giveaways when promoting registrations
- Feature the sponsor’s logo and detailed company profile in the sponsorship section of the event’s website and app
- Include links to downloadable resources provided by the sponsor (i.e. catalog, brochure)
- Send targeted push notifications with the sponsor’s logo
- Placement of sponsor’s logo on any printed and/or digital marketing signage
- Include the sponsor’s logo in the post-event survey and thank you email
Step 7: Preparing a strong sponsorship proposal
Now it’s finally time to prepare a sponsorship proposal that includes everything you’ve prepared in the previous steps.
While you can be creative in how you’re going to format your proposal, and that ideally it should be personalized for each prospective sponsor, each proposal should cover these key elements:
- Information about the event
- Dates, location, size of the event
- The event theme and content topics
- The mission and objectives of the event
- Past success (if it’s an annual event)
- Demographics of target attendees
- The number of attendees attended previous events (if any) and estimation of attendance for the event
- How will you market your event to new attendees
Explain how your event will benefit their company, as discussed in the previous steps. It’s okay to be direct and clearly lay out the benefits.
- Sponsorship Packages
As discussed in step 6, include your sponsorship packages here.
- Social Proofs and Testimonials
If you’ve hosted successful events in the past, you can showcase the past year’s success in your proposal:
- Previous event’s logo
- Case study of previous sponsorship successes
- Feedback and quotes from attendees/sponsors/exhibitors/speakers/talents
If this is your very first event, however, you can still provide social proof like your track record of working with other businesses or clients.
- How to be a sponsor
Fairly obvious, you should provide a clear call to action and clear next steps if they are interested in sponsoring your event. However, this section is often overlooked, and even if you’ve developed the perfect proposal, it will be useless if prospective sponsors don’t know how to convert.
Make sure the next steps are as easy as possible for them to reduce friction. Be explicit, and if possible mention the call to action several times throughout the proposal. A subtle way to do this is to include a phone number or an email at the footer of each page of the proposal.
While securing sponsorships is definitely important, especially if you don’t plan on funding your event yourself, remember that it’s far more important to organize an exceptional event in the first place.
If your event isn’t well-organized, you won’t be able to build long-term, lasting relationships with your sponsors, and thus your job in securing sponsorships will only get harder and harder each time you’re organizing an event.
On the other hand, the best way to consistently attract great sponsors is by regularly hosting great events. Make them come to you instead of chasing them around. This is where having an event management platform like Eventtia to ensure the success of your event is crucial in creating a stellar event experience, keeping your attendees happy, and ultimately, getting sponsorship for your event.
Also, aim to maintain healthy relationships with all sponsors you’ve secured, even if you’re not planning to host another event in the near future (you’ll never know). Ask their feedback after the event, or send a post-event survey so you can get valuable insights into what aspects of your event have already been working well, and what could be improved.