Does your association struggle to acquire event sponsors? What about sponsor retention? Once you acquire sponsors, do you then struggle to get them to stay and support your association’s initiatives (both old and new) year-after-year?
Many people do. The sponsorship game is a tough one. Fortunately, Charles Popper, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Naylor Association Solutions, had several good ideas to offer on an OSAE webinar last week. Here are a few of his tips:
1. Customize your offerings
Does your association still rely on a one-size-fits-all sponsorship package? If so, you could be missing out on some pretty big opportunities. In fact, 48 percent of associations now offer some kind customization (particularly for their biggest and best partners).
Popper recommends surveying your sponsors (and not just after an event, but beforehand as well) to see what their objectives are and what they’d like to get out of a sponsorship package. He also recommends a little bit of consulting. As you talk to potential sponsors, ask them what they’re looking for/what they’d like to see. Then create custom packages based on those wants and needs. (Yes, this may take more time, but it will also be more successful.)
2. Showcase your program’s success
You probably have materials selling your sponsorship opportunities, but don’t be afraid to make those opportunities look HOT (and in high demand). For example, consider putting together a sheet of all your sponsorship opportunities. Then, every time you sell one, mark that opportunity as SOLD. This allows others to see who’s investing in your event’s success.
Note: On that same sheet, be sure to include a line that says, “Don’t see what you’re looking for? Call us! We can customize a package for you.” This makes those opportunities (and working with your association, in general) MUCH more appealing.
3. Create a toolkit to better sell your opportunities
Again, you probably have a few fact sheets selling your sponsorship opportunities, but how compelling are those fact sheets, really? Popper recommends taking it up a notch by creating a full-fledged toolkit.
What should go in that toolkit? Well for starters, a few reputable testimonials from companies who sponsored your event last year. It’s also not a bad idea to have video and photography on hand (from last year’s event) so sponsors can actually see opportunities - AND traffic.
4. Provide a post-event recap
According to Popper, this one isn’t just a best practice. It’s a must. Immediately following your event, be sure to send your sponsors an event recap. Include data such as who attended, buyer-to-seller ratios, a buying power breakdown, etc. This reminds your sponsors of why they partnered with you in the first place - and if that data’s good, they’ll likely want to do it again.
Finding sponsors is tough, but it’s a necessary part of the event planning process. For more tips on planning your association’s next event, check out our complete guide to association event planning below!