We all know the importance of event sponsors - they’re the ones who make our events possible, plain and simple.
But finding event sponsors? That’s a whole different story. Where do you even begin? How do you find potential candidates, and more importantly, once you do, how do you encourage them to participate?
We’ve got some tips:
1. Identify your audience
First and foremost, when it comes to finding event sponsors, it’s crucial that you identify - in detail - your audience. The last thing you want is to have an angry event sponsor, unsatisfied with what they’re getting out of the deal. Plus, knowing your audience - what type of people are going to be at the event - is how you’re going to really sell your sponsorship opportunity.
Remember, sponsorships are (or should be) mutually beneficial. So if you can connect the right companies with the right people, you’ll be in a pretty solid position (and form some pretty long-lasting relationships). The first task is just identifying those people.
2. Create different sponsorship levels
You don’t want to make finding sponsors any harder than it is. Let’s say you’ve found a company or organization that’s interested, but can’t meet the amount of money you’re asking for. Does that mean you rule them out altogether? No! You offer a variety of options and levels to try and boost interest and participation.
Now one quick note about levels here: It’s CRUCIAL that the monetary amount you place on each level matches the company benefits associated with that level. If you’re struggling to determine what that amount should be, start by putting a price on each benefit exclusively. Then add those prices up to determine the cost of the level. You may have to do some tweaking here, but it’s still a good place to start.
3. Do your research and identify possible candidates
This step is one that people often skip, and that’s where the big mistake happens. Too often, organizations reach out to companies who aren’t necessarily a good fit for the sponsorship opportunity - and that leaves those companies a little bit...err, annoyed.
To prevent that from happening, spend some time doing a little research. Check out companies/organizations within your space OR those that target a similar audience. The more prepared you are going into outreach, the better results you’ll see.
Which brings us to our next point...
4. Call, email, call, email, call, email
Once you’ve identified companies that could be a good fit, start reaching out via phone AND email. If you email first and they don’t respond, give them a quick call. But do understand that, just like you, these people are busy, so keep your calls and emails short and have your information/pitch ready.
Tip: If you’re able to prepare a short, personalized proposal for the companies and organizations you’re contacting, you might have a better chance of sealing the deal - and sooner. This little trick shows you’re organized, reputable, and dedicated to making the process easier.
5. Follow up
Let’s say you have a good call with someone, but they need to talk to their team about the sponsorship opportunity. Don’t let that contact slip through the cracks. Follow up with them (without being too pushy) and try to seal the deal.
Similarly, if someone says they need time to think about it or “not this year, but maybe next,” make a note of that and follow up accordingly. They’re not going to go out of their way to reach out to you, so it’s crucial that you keep track of where people are in the sponsorship/communication process.
Let’s say you have sponsors nailed down, but the rest of your event...not so much. Allow us to help! Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning! It explains, step-by-step, how to plan, promote, and execute your association’s next event!