Event sponsors are often crucial contributors to event budgets and therefore highly affect the overall attendee experience and the overall success of the event. However, event planners still struggle to secure long-lasting relationships with event sponsors. Finding, pitching, and keeping event sponsors is not a gamble – it’s a process that event planners need to carefully prepare for. Sponsors need to feel like they can trust planners to deliver on their promises and meet sponsorship objectives.
Event sponsors are not just a source of financial aid. They’re event partners who have their own interests and goals tied to the event. Event planners must find a good match in a sponsor and make sure they have a positive experience before, during, and after the event.
Thanks to event technology, it’s becoming increasingly easier to measure event KPIs and prove success. When event planners can present their potential event sponsors with such data and ROI opportunities, they’re much more likely to find and keep strategic partners for the long run. So, let’s explore how to find event sponsors and how to keep them!
Step 1: Finding The Right Event Sponsors
Before you begin your search for the perfect event sponsor, you have to clearly define your event goals and know your event strategy inside out. That way, you can search for an event sponsorship partner that aligns with the purpose and vision of your event. Event sponsors will likely ask you about the purpose of your event, the demographics and psychographics of your attendees, and how their brand fits into your event. And vice versa – event planners should prepare questions for sponsors too and assess whether they fit their ideal sponsor persona.
For example, if you’re planning a digital marketing conference, Hubspot or MailChimp might be a great fit, while it would make very little sense to reach out to Red Bull GmbH or Southwest Airlines. Check out some great co-branding partnership examples.
Think about your attendees. Who are they and which brands would they like to see as your event sponsors? Choose brands that share their core values with your audience. Research shows that 70% of consumers prefer buying from companies with similar principles as theirs.
Who has sponsored events similar to yours? Do some market research. Find events in your industry and see who their event sponsorship partners are. Those brands who’ve sponsored similar events before are far more likely to sponsor an event again.
It might be tempting to play the number’s game and reach out to as many companies as possible, but it’s far more likely that you’ll find the right event sponsor and long-term event success if you approach brands that truly make sense for your event. It might take more time, but it will pay off.
Step 2: Pitching A Potential Sponsor
Before pitching potential event sponsors, event planners and organizers need to know them well. Prepare an event sponsorship proposal letter, define various event sponsorship packages/levels, find decision-makers in the company, and reach out to them directly.
Be specific in your sponsorship proposal: outline the benefits for the event sponsor. What can you offer in return for their financial help? Is it increased brand exposure, lead generation, or data insights into your audience?
Communication is key. Highlight your USPs (unique selling points) and give insights into your event’s audience. To nurture more trust, include solutions for worst-case scenarios, such as low attendance at in-person events or cancellation of the event.
Support your claims with past event data. Sponsors will want to know how you measure and prove event ROI. Event platforms are a great source of data insights, which you can then include in your sponsor pitch.
Let event sponsorship opportunities come to you.
If you’re always on the lookout for sponsors, set up a page on your website, dedicated solely to sponsorships. For example, IHRSA’s sponsorship website outlines various sponsorship opportunities for events, research, and content. You can also include such a website in your sponsorship pitch, letting sponsors know you’re well-prepared to make them whole.
Step 3: Keeping An Event Sponsor
Once you successfully get sponsors for your event, the real work begins. The more effort that went into finding and pitching event sponsors, the better match they will be. That translates into more chances of you keeping your event sponsorship partners and establishing year-long sponsorships (and beyond!).
Promote your event sponsors before and after the event.
Let your attendees know who your sponsors are and what role they play at your event. Highlight them before the event by giving them shoutouts on social media and featuring them prominently on your event app or event platform. By implementing the community model on your platform, planners can give sponsors more value throughout the entire year rather than just at the event itself.
Sponsors are not an afterthought.
Include your sponsors in the event planning process and make them an organic part of your event rather than an afterthought. Event sponsors who are represented well at events are more likely to sponsor future events. You can incentivize attendees to interact with sponsors through gamification and do everything in your power to ensure event sponsorship objectives are met.
Plan a post-event debrief.
After the event, it’s time to do a follow-up with event sponsors. Compile key metrics that show the value your event provided them. Include data about the potential sponsorship reach and tie that into the demographic information of attendees.
And remember: sponsorship opportunities can stretch well beyond the event itself if you’re nurturing a community on your event platform. Let your sponsors know that you can expose your audience to their content and brand all year round.
Sponsorship Can Be A Long-Lasting Partnership
Remember: event sponsorship is a partnership for both parties. Events and conferences are a powerful way for brands to get exposure and establish themselves as major players in their industry. So, define your event goals well and build an event strategy that includes event sponsorship opportunities in seamless, holistic ways.
Endless Events is an event management company that specializes in all things strategy, including goal setting, session strategy, and budgeting. If you need a reliable management partner to help you plan for long-term success, reach out – the Einsteins of Events are here to help.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.