Event sponsorship has always been an essential part of any event, and yet, many event managers are still struggling with the challenges of this powerful marketing tool. This article reveals the main benefits of sponsorship and why it is important for your event. You will also learn how to find your ideal sponsor that will go with your event like peanut butter and jelly!
But first things first...
What is event sponsorship?
Sponsorship of events is one of the most popular and effective forms of sponsorship. In a nutshell, it is a type of advertisement, where influential people and companies seize the opportunity to raise their brand awareness through events in exchange for financial support. It is, however, not just the money that could be involved. It could be built upon in-kind values as well, such as providing the venue, catering services, technology facilities and tools, or donating prizes for attendee engagement activities at the event.
How can sponsorship benefit your event?
When done right, sponsorship creates a win-win-win situation that doesn't just focus on delivering the value for sponsors and organizers but rather builds a relationship everyone can benefit from, including the audience. Some may also refer to the win-win-win-win model. This model works with a fourth win, which represents the core purpose of every event - the community contribution.
Sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool that can help you improve your event in different aspects. Let's look at the 4 simple reasons why sponsorship is important and why it is worth it to spend the time researching, prospecting, connecting, and securing sponsorship for events.
- Financial support
Financial sponsorship is the most common form of sponsorship. Organizing an event can be expensive, and as much as it is not just about the money, your budget is undoubtedly one of the most important things you need to keep your eyes on during the whole process of event planning. Receiving an additional budget through sponsorship can be a significant help, which could be the deciding factor whether your event will succeed or fail, especially when you organize a non-profit event.
With the increased available budget, you need to think of how you will allocate these new resources. Invest smartly into different areas that work the best for your event, based on your goals, expected costs, and previous experience. You can use the budget to boost your sales by increasing the value or providing discounts to attract more people to your event.
- Bigger and more relevant reach
Sponsors are already interacting with their own niche audiences, and know what tactics work the best for them. Thanks to sponsorship, you can reach these audiences without the need for expensive and time-consuming research. It can also save your time and effort that you would normally have to spend on building positive relationships with your target audience. Through sponsors, you will have access to the audience that is ready to listen to what you have to say right now, right here.
To make this benefit work, you have to, however, find your ideal sponsors that are relevant to your event topics, and most importantly, support your event's message. Bad sponsor choice might not just fail to bring the impact you would like to achieve, but it can also put a bad light on your event.
- Increase awareness
The increase of awareness goes hand in hand with the previous benefit. With a bigger reach provided by your sponsors, you will be able to promote your event to a much wider audience, and thanks to the high relevancy and credibility also boost your ticket sales.
- Positive publicity and social proof
Sponsorships can also shape and improve your brand image by affecting the public perception of your event. Sponsors are usually people or companies that are well-known or have a considerable impact on the community in their specialized fields. Finding the right sponsor who influences your target audience is a great start to a successful event, as it helps you gain the audience's trust right from the beginning when your event is tied to them.
Who are your ideal sponsors?
Based on the insights that have already been mentioned above, it is clear that a sponsor needs to meet certain points, to become your ideal sponsor. Here are the most important ones that you should focus on:
- access to your target audience
- high credibility in the community of the certain field
- be relevant to your event field or topic
- support your event's message
From these aspects, it follows that to find your ideal sponsor, you need to, first of all, know your event. Without a clear idea of what your event is about, what is your strategy, or what goals you want to achieve, it is practically impossible. Having a clear idea of all the aspects of your event will also help you convince sponsors to put their trust in your event.
How to get sponsors for your event?
You already know your event inside out and have your ideal sponsor profile ready? Great! Now it's time to identify the possible sponsors you can reach out to. The first step is to do research. There are many ways how you can collect data for your research:
- Use your own data from previous events to find what worked best for you.
- Use available tools for sponsorship. There are many platforms, like SponsorMyEvent, Sponseasy, SponsorPitch and many others that connect organizers with people and companies that are interested in sponsoring events.
- Search for influential people and companies that deal with topics that are relevant to your event topics, and get them on your side by offering them value.
- Research your competition through different platforms for events, like Eventbrite, 10times, and others. These platforms provide you with a list of events that you can easily filter and find the ones that are similar to your event.
- Research sponsors of your competitors. These companies are more likely to sponsor events that are similar to events they already have sponsored.
- Take advantage of your network and gain insights from people who are more experienced. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from experts and people working in the same field. You would be surprised how many of them are willing to share their experiences with you. :)
Identifying your ideal sponsor is not the hardest part. In the next steps you need to attract their attention, convince them of the values your event can offer them, and lastly, secure the deal.
Even though the communication technologies are evolving each day, email is still considered as the most effective way to reach out to your potential sponsors with your proposal.
Don't send out your sponsorship proposal letter till you get all these basic points covered:
- Don't underestimate proper addressing and greetings.
- Short introduction - Who am I? Why am I reaching out to you?
- You did your homework, now it's time to make a use of it - Don't make it just about you, tell them why you chose them, why you think it would be the perfect match, etc.
- Throw in Value - What the sponsors get from the event? This is probably the most important part of the letter. Introduce your event while emphasizing the main idea of the event, describe your audience, and name all the touch-point opportunities for sponsors of the event.
- Follow up - Tell your potential sponsors the exact date and time you are going to send them a follow up email or call them. You can even propose a personal meeting to discuss the deal.
- Express gratitude - An event sponsorship thank you letter is common practice, but don't forget to thank your prospects in advance as well.
- Attachment - Always double (if not triple!) check that you included your attachment files.
Create value...but for whom?
Always keep in mind that sponsorship is a win-win-win situation, which means there should be some value for everyone who is involved. It's basically a symbiotic relationship between attendees, sponsors, and event organizers, where everything revolves around what each of them needs and how they affect each other.
- organizer X sponsor
We already spoke about the benefits of sponsorship for events, but what can sponsors get from this deal? When we take a closer look, they are actually not that different from each other. Events make the best touch-points, and most of the time, sponsors are looking for these opportunities to generate new leads and build relationships with the audience to support their own brand.
Besides the traditional brand exposure tactics, like print media, brand mentions, sponsors showcase on your website, branded booths, sponsored social posts, merchandise, etc., you can offer them speaking opportunities, interaction with attendees through networking sessions, or access to some of your event data that could be valuable for them.
- sponsor X attendee
As far as the attendees are concerned, there are things they expect when attending an event: they want to learn something new, they want to meet new people and they want to be entertained.
It is quite common that organizers invite their sponsors to the event for free, creating a great touch-point where attendees and sponsors meet. Sponsors can also contribute with their stories and experience in the field that can increase the value of your event content for your attendees. They can be a great source of entertainment as well. Let them present and demonstrate their new products that they have been working on, or provide some innovative technology that attendees can try out on the spot.
- attendee X organizer
It is in the interest of the organizer to provide the best attendee experience because a happy attendee equals a successful event. Your hard work will be paid back in different forms, whether it is the increased credibility through positive word-of-mouth, or the data about your audience that you can use to improve your future events.
How to promote sponsors at virtual events?
With the rise of virtual and hybrid events caused by the pandemic outbreak, organizers have to face whole new industry challenges. However, we can't leave out the fact that it opened up new ways for the business to grow as well. As communication moved into the digital world, it brought new creative opportunities to improve your event.
Here are some tips on how you can promote your sponsors at your next virtual event:
- Promote sponsors during live streams
Use the time between live sessions to promote your sponsors, or promote them right during your stream by mentioning their brands. You can also have their logos displayed in the background the whole time.
Virtual events tend to struggle with attendee engagement, as there are so many factors that can disturb attendee's attention during the event. So why not seize this opportunity to create an interactive session where you will connect sponsors with your attendees? Plan games, competitions, or other icebreaking activities!
- Use technology to your advantage
Take advantage of event tools available on the market to ease the pains of virtual events. A mobile event app is a great solution that enjoys huge popularity, as people keep their smartphones near them all the time. In the era of virtual events it is, however, more than ever important to let attendees access your event through different platforms, because the significant amount of them will attend your event through their desktops. Mostly because of comfortability reasons.
Eventee is an all-in-one event tool that works across all platforms. Besides the basic features for organizing events, like agenda or speakers creation, you can use it to promote your sponsors. With this simple tool you will be able to create interactive sponsors' profiles that allow you to promote them right at attendee's fingertips. Eventee also offers features for attendee engagement, like live questions and polls, newsfeed, networking, etc.