Sponsorship spending is on the rise. Brands are engaging in sponsorship activity more than ever and choosing it over traditional advertising. With a projected rise of 4.5% in 2017 to $62.8 billion from $60.1 billion in 2016 according to the IEG Sponsorship report, it’s more critical than ever for event planners and their organizations to do their best to attract and maintain sponsors.
Sponsorships are often a better use of marketing dollars than advertising because they are more strategic and “big picture” in relationship to events. As a result, an enduring sponsorship partnership can provide a steady stream of revenue for both parties for many years to come.
Sponsors also benefit from a studied phenomenon referred to as “event spillover effect.” People are happy when they attend events and those happy feelings are transferred to the brands which are connected to the event. Typically, brands do not receive this spillover effect from traditional advertising because typical ads are seen as a direct attempt to sell the consumer something. Conversely, with a sponsorship, the brand is associating or connecting with an event, so the message is subtle and comes off as more credible to the consumer.
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A guide to gaining sponsors
A great way to persuade a potential sponsor is to explain this positive effect of event sponsorship. You’ll notice how more receptive they are to accepting your offer as a wise marketing investment.
Now that you are equipped with a persuasive pitch to present to sponsors, two questions remain: how do you find the right sponsors for your event and keep them content over the long term?
Following are seven proven tips for securing mutually beneficial sponsorships that we hope you find helpful, whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to sponsorship activity.
1. Know your target audience.When you know as much as possible about your attendees and share that data with a potential sponsor, the better chance you have of winning their sponsorship. Companies need to connect directly with their target audience whether to boost sales or leads, improve brand recognition, or enhance their image by being associated with a cause. Maybe all of the above.
Build an attendee profile that includes their characteristics and lifestyle traits, what marketing professionals call “AIO” dimensions (A = activities; I = interests; O = opinions). This data is useful in developing a compelling profile for potential sponsors. You can start information gathering during the event registration process: answers to simple questions go a long way in developing profiles.
2. Choose prospective sponsors that closely align with your target audience.
It makes sense to begin with a list of prospects who are already predisposed to buying sponsorships. Start by making a list of the companies who sponsor events in the cities where your event runs. Then make a list of the products or service your attendees might purchase. Also note that your company’s vendors might be excellent sponsors, too.
“It’s about finding who can relate to your attendees and your industry, so you pinpoint what is best for both of you and the sponsor” says Megan Herfel, account manager at pc/nametag.
You can always reach out to your personal network, too. People you already know, including their friends and colleagues offer possibilities, and they in turn can refer you to other potential sponsors.
3. Commit to research and data collection.
From the prospecting stage when you develop your target audience to valuable post event results for your sponsors, data collection must be a priority if you want your sponsorships to be successful. It’s difficult to convince a potential sponsor with simple guessing and no data to back it up.
Instead, knowing your target audience (as mentioned above) through simple questioning during registration, hosting focus groups for in-depth or personal information, and providing simple follow-up event surveys will win over and maintain sponsorships.
4. Create offers that interest potential sponsors.
Make initial contact with a prospect by sending an email that introduces your event through compelling photos, graphics and copy. Then, follow up with offerings, such as providing logo and messaging placement on name badges, lanyards or event signage, all excellent forms of promotion that often endure long after the event.
There are other types of endorsements, but some common ones include: complimentary or VIP passes, speaking opportunities or special audience access, on-stage announcements, website and email marketing, and social media mentions.
Always make sure to customize the sponsorship package based on the sponsor’s needs. Not only do you customize the pitch, but you also must customize the agreement based on your sponsor’s particular requirements. Instead of selling a one-size-fits-all program, be sure to get to know them, understand what they need and develop a relationship with the sponsor. And once you both agree to the terms of the sponsorship, make sure to put everything in writing to prevent any future disagreements.
5. Develop a collaborative relationship with your sponsor.
When you’ve acquired a sponsor, make sure to create a partnership with them. For example, include the company’s sales or marketing liaison in the design of a name badge for the event.
“Collaborate with them by saying, ‘Here is what we were thinking, and here is where you could help us out in the design of this badge,’” says Megan.
“Create a blueprint for them so they can see how they have a strong presence on the badge or lanyard versus the sponsor just throwing lots of dollars into a project they’re not really involved in.”
6. Implement technology whenever possible.78% of event professionals say they use technology in some form to keep their sponsors happy. Many are finding that sponsors are becoming more demanding and it’s difficult to achieve ROI. Beyond logo placement, exhibit tables and even social media mentions, sponsors are looking for “out-of-the-box” ideas that technology can provide.
Here are just a handful of many innovative technologies that will attract sponsors and keep them on attendees’ minds before, during and after events.
- Registration Data
Again, the simple questions you ask your attendees during registration can be very persuasive and convince a sponsor to support your event.
- Virtual Event Bags
Sponsors can create digital offers for attendees – a mix of offers that include discount codes, competitions, free gifts, etc. These are great digital tools for tracking, visits, views and engagement.
- Event Apps
Some event apps can give sponsors a virtual presence by providing a static or rotating banner space in the app and include pictures, text, links, videos, product listings, etc. The app you choose should provide meaningful stats, such as how many people clicked through to the sponsor’s website, watched their video or downloaded product info.
- Live Event Streaming
Share live video of presentations or performances at your event for those who could not attend in person.
- Lead Retrieval
Lead retrieval tools allow for the collection of data from an attendee by scanning the barcode or QR code on their badge. This data can provide a personalized follow-up from a sponsor.
7. Build trust and keep happy sponsors coming back.
After the event, ensure your sponsors will continue to work with you by providing them with feedback while learning from their constructive criticism.
“Sharing attendee feedback and ROI data after the event is huge, especially if your sponsor made a large investment, and you’re looking at future events and bringing them back,” says Megan.
“If you don’t give them the numbers, what’s their incentive to work with you again?”
Your sponsorship report, which varies based on your arrangement, covers key points to show ROI, such as event attendance, data about attendee behavior, actions and demographics, number of leads generated, number of samples distributed, feedback received, and many more.
Once you secure a sponsorship for an upcoming event, pc/nametag’s meeting specialists are happy to help you create imprint space on badges, lanyards or other registration supplies and promotional products with our sophisticated printing techniques.