“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need or really want from your sponsor. Don’t leave it up to them to determine that.”

Streaming and download Deepwater Horizon (2016)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: On the surface, an event sponsorship doesn’t appear to be a mutually beneficial business transaction. You might think that the event host gets more out of the arrangement than the supporter. But that’s hardly the case. And this delusion is a barrier that event organizers must overcome. Event sponsors will only ever agree to support an event if they see value in it. Proving this value is the key to successfully acquiring event sponsorship deals.

If you organize a successful event (or plan to organize one) then you should consider securing sponsors for it. This, for a number of reasons:

”You

You may be able to use what your sponsors offer you to gain additional revenue from your attendees. For example, when I organized concerts for the music school I used to manage, we would get a bunch of gift cards from restaurants and retail stores. We created a gift certificate draw, where attendees could purchase tickets to win the gift cards we received. This added hundreds of dollars in additional income.

”You

Using the above example, you can imagine that our music concert attendees were hardly there to win gift certificates, but it was another highly anticipated aspect to our event and really set our concert apart from that of other music schools.

”Your

When you can plug logos of other recognized businesses on your event marketing materials, it certainly adds a lot of credibility to your event and makes it even more appealing to prospective goers.

”Your

They certainly will want to share your event on Twitter if you tag them in a tweet. They might also be willing to share your event through other distribution channels, like their e-mail or on their website. It makes them look good by showing that they give back to local businesses.

”You

Sometimes, sponsors aren’t able to contribute financially to your event, but can help you out in other ways. For example, a deli might be willing to provide you with refreshments and snacks, meaning that you don’t have to go out and purchase these yourself.

Now that you know why you need event sponsors. Let’s chat about how you go about securing sponsorships.

Plan your pitch.

You will need to prepare your offering before you solicit sponsors. Consider what your sponsors need to know to help them make a decision that swings in your favour. They want to know who will be at your event. And make sure your attendees are also your prospective sponsor’s target market.

Another key point: How many people do you expect at your event? You may think that exaggerating your numbers will help your case, but don’t do it. Keep your numbers projection realistic. Also, consider describing your audience as best you can, and get specific:

“They want to know who will be at your event. And make sure your attendees are also your prospective sponsor’s target market.”

I.e. You can expect 120 people to attend. All are passionate foodies from the Greater Toronto Area, that have an impressive Instagram and Twitter following. Some actively blog about local food hot spots, but most are their network’s go-to resource when it comes to learning about a unique food joint.

Create a sponsorship proposal.

You’ll want to prepare a proposal to send out to sponsors. Include as much information about the event and your company as possible. Add your event invitation, past agendas, programs, links to videos, photos, press releases, anything that can help sell your prospects on the idea of backing your gig.

Your proposal will make or break your chances of getting supporters. So, craft it carefully. By carefully, I mean take time to consider the content and how it’s presented. I’ve seen some beautifully designed infographic-style proposals… That sure wouldn’t hurt.

Here’s an example of a infographic-style sponsorship proposal that we designed:

 

Consider another extremely important point: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need or really want from your sponsor. Don’t leave it up to them to determine that. If you need audio and visual equipment, just ask. Are you accepting financial contributions? Suggest an amount. The point being that you need to PROPOSE something in the end.

At the music school, we standardized our sponsorship rates. For example, a small and medium-sized logo on the inside of the concert program was $40 and $60, respectively. A company banner on the edge of the stage was $100. Want to brand our bass drum skin? $80, please! As you could see, we offered a number of marketing opportunities. From them, we created package offerings for companies to choose from.

Reaching out to sponsors.

Reaching out to companies for event sponsorships requires a mixed approach that can be time consuming and challenging. You need to send out e-mails, make a bunch of phone calls, and do some face-to-face meetings too. Oh, and don’t forget about follow up e-mails and more phone calls! That said, you will definitely need to reach out at least a month ahead of time, sometimes more if you are planning an elaborate event.

The tricky part about all of this, like any sales call, is getting a hold of the right person. The one that, ultimately, can say yay or nay. Most often the people that have the authority to make these decisions are super busy and high up on the chain of command.

You may think it’s easy to get a hold of a local business owner, but you’d be wrong. Even harder is to contact the right person in a larger organization. I went to a local McDonald’s seeking sponsorship. I spoke to a floor manager, who referred me to the store manager, who gave me the district manager’s number, who finally directed me to sponsorship-specific e-mail address…

It takes patience, determination and a lot of soft skills to inspire companies to help you. The soft skills part is key! You have to quickly identify the personality type you’re dealing with and adjust your approach. Some love to chat, some will crack with a bit of humour, others want you to get to the point. If you aren’t any good at the whole interpersonal thing, then find someone that can help you who is.

Finding companies to back your event initially may take a lot of effort, but it’s far easier the second time around. Your sponsors will remember you and your event. Often, all it takes is a simple e-mail to get them on board again.

Additional sponsorship tips.

  • Always smile when you’re talking, whether it be in person or over the phone. It makes you sound more approachable and dynamic.
  • Leave the door open when a company declines your proposal. And try, try again next time.
  • Whenever possible, show that you have supported them and they will be more willing to support you: “On a personal note, my family and I come here all the time and love it.”
  • Positively reinforce a sponsor’s decision to back you by saying “oh, our attendees will love that”
  • Follow-up with a thank you e-mail, possibly with some photos that highlight the success of the event.

To recap

Event sponsors are great for creating additional revenue streams, add value to your attendees’ experience, strengthening your event’s reputation, helping to promote your event and reducing your event costs.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to plan your pitch and craft an attractive sponsorship proposal if you want potential supporters to take you seriously. When you are ready to reach out, don’t let all the e-mail, phone and face-to-face correspondences demotivate you – it’s normal for these things to take time. Find out who the right person to talk to is, in other words, who has the decision-making authority to agree to sponsor your event. And use your people skills to inspire them to make a decision that sways in your favour. Good luck!

Meet the author.

”Taro

”Marketing

Meet Fortified Marketing’s founder and lead marketing consultant. Taro loves reading fascinating articles on various marketing-related subjects, just as much as he enjoys writing about them. When he isn’t savouring a latte while working on his newest blog post, he can be found at a coffee shop in Ottawa’s Little Italy, or marathoning shows and documentaries on Netflix.

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2 Comments

  1. Claudie Larouche

    Hi Taro,

    2 comments:

    1) Your captcha plugin is not the best. I wrote a comment earlier and clicked submit and got the following error message:
    Error: Time limit is exhausted. Please enter CAPTCHA value again. Click the BACK button on your browser, and try again.

    When I clicked the back button, my comment was gone.

    2) Do you think you would be able to share an example of a proposal with us? That’d be fantastic! Thank you for your article, lots of useful content for me as I organize fundraising concerts and other such events regularly.

    Claudie

    Reply
    • Taro Abarbanel-Uemura

      Hi Claudie, thanks for your comment and sorry that you experienced that glitch with our captcha. I’ll look into it.

      I’ll update the blog in the coming weeks with an example of a sponsorship proposal. Stay tuned!

      Reply

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