Last Updated: October 25, 2017
Event organizers have a problem. In order to attract attendees to a paid event, ticket prices must be attractively priced. But in order to have the funds to create a stunning event that attendees love, organizers must somehow generate enough revenue to cover the costs.
That's where event sponsorship comes in. It's an excellent revenue source, and if organizers partner with the right companies, the relationship can provide added value to attendees as well.
But unless you're planning a long standing conference with a history of success, it can be incredibly challenging to find companies interested in sponsoring your event.
Event organizers should know that they can find great events sponsors. To do so they just need to stick to 5 key principles of event sponsorship.
Learn even more about how to get sponsors for an event, get a free eBook!
What is Event Sponsorship?
Before we dive into the steps, it would be worthwhile to properly define event sponsorship. In short, event sponsors are companies that provide resources (usually financial support) in exchange for a particular request. Below are a few examples of what event sponsors are looking for:
- Attendee and registration data
- Attendee survey responses
- Brand exposure throughout the event (both physical and digital)
- Reserved panel seats and speaking opportunities
- Discounted event tickets
- Exclusive access to event data that will explain overall event performance
These are only a handful of things that sponsors may be looking for when striking a partnership deal. The main point to keep in mind when speaking with potential sponsors is to be creative with your package options and to clearly understand what the sponsor hopes to achieve.
Now that we have a strong contextual understanding of event sponsorships, let's dive into the steps that will help you secure the ideal partnership for your event.
Step 1: Collect Key Event Data
Above all else, event sponsors want to invest in conferences that are likely to bring a return on their investment. By having data from previous similar events and from the current event you're organizing, you can help to prove to potential sponsors that your event is worth sponsoring. Having a central dashboard for all key metrics, such as the Bizzabo dashboard below, will make data-collecting a much easier process.
Sponsors are typically interested in event KPI's such as attendee demographics, social media chatter/engagement, and potential reach (attendee + online audience). Create a case study featuring the success past event sponsors had when supporting similar events you've planned.
Step 2: Target The Right Sponsors
Event organizers who select the ideal sponsors for them are likely to have more success than organizers who spam entire industries. Do your research and get to know the values and goals of various companies you're interested in. Outline this criteria and try your best to only reach out to companies who meet your standards. This may seem limiting at first, but doing so will prove to a be much better long term strategy. Below are a few questions to reflect on when outlining your criteria:
Finding sponsors who closely align with your event brand will add much value to the your event overall as well as increase the probability of maintaining a successful partnership.
If you think there's a match reach out, otherwise move on.
Step 3: Master The Cold Call/Email
Unless you have an "in" at the company you're targeting, you're going to need to get good at doing some call outreach. Start by sending a cold email to someone in charge of partnerships, or if you can't find that person, to someone in the marketing department.
Make sure the email is as personalized and specific as possible so the potential sponsor sees that you've done your due diligence. The more directed the message is, the liklier you will receive a response. Follow up with a second email if you haven't heard back and then pick up the phone and call your contact.
It's best to make these calls early in the morning or after 6:00PM local time, since gatekeepers tend to arrive later and leave earlier. Your goal should be to get a decision maker on the phone and present them with an opportunity that they can't say "no" to.
Step 4: Deliver A Stunning Presentation
Even if you've established a "champion" within the company you're reaching out to, you'll need to win over a team in order to seal the deal.
In many cases, the event organizer will be invited to present their event sponsorship idea to a team working for the sponsorship company. In the presentation make use of the great data you've collected about your event, while keeping the sponsor's goals in mind.
Step 5: Nurture The Relationship
If you properly promote the sponsor at the event, you'll likely have the opportunity to build a long standing relationship with the sponsor. It's common for companies to sponsor the same events each year, so be sure to collect great data about how your event helped the sponsoring company. Information about visits sent to their website, ad impressions made through your event app, or leads generated through special promo link, are great metrics to keep track of.
Create a debrief presentation for the sponsor and share it with them after the event. Then be sure to keep in touch to keep your relationship alive.
Event sponsorship can be a tricky skill to master. It means that you'll need to be more than an excellent event planner, you'll also need to be a data scientist and a great sales person. To really master the skills mentioned here, download Catching The Big Fish: The Event Sponsorship Guide by clicking the button below!