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How to Score the Perfect Sponsorship for Your Event

Event businesses need sponsors more than ever. The good news is that we now have more to offer them, too. Image by

When seeking out sponsors, we tend to think more about what we need from them- hello, funding- than what they need from us. It's an understandable oversight- planning any event or series of events is a huge undertaking. However, if we don't flesh out and truly understand what potential sponsors are looking for, it's difficult to attract sponsors. That's because they're coming into it with their own set of strategic business goals that your proposal must be aligned with.

Sponsorship may sound like it's about funding, and of course it is. But it's also about mutual give-and-take and forging business relationships that will be beneficial into the future. Today's event market is built on the kind of meaningful, long-lasting relationships that are needed to boost an experiential strategy. It takes effort, alignment, and resource-sharing to cater to an ever-changing audience who values personalization and meaningful experiences over material possessions.

So what do potential sponsors want? That depends on their business culture and goals, of course. But generally speaking, there are several things that should always be at the top of your list to attract sponsors.

  1. Provide Access to Target Audiences

How exactly do you plan to connect with your sponsor's target audience before, during, and after your event? Say it- and then show it. Image by

Businesses are always trying to broaden their audience, reach niche customers, and provide new, unique experiences that keep audiences engaged. In a competitive market- made more so by the return to in-person events after a pandemic- standing out is important. Sponsors know that; they want to work with innovative businesses that are tapped into trends and put their own unique spin on them.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is this: Who is my sponsor's target audience, and how can I reach them? Then build your marketing strategy and pitch around that. When you make your proposal, it's worth mentioning that events have the potential to reach a level of customers that few other forms of marketing can. Your attendees are spending money in a specific market, and will likely continue to do so. Therefore, if this market is aligned with your sponsor's goals, exposure to your audience will be largely beneficial to them.

You'll need to take it a step further and specify the ways in which you plan to connect your sponsor's business with your audience before, during, and after the event. Whatever promos, contests, or giveaways you launch pre-event should include your sponsors. The opportunity to win a free product or experience by registering for an event is a strong motivator for many attendees.

You'll also want to combine forces with your sponsor on social media to host a countdown to your event, share updates, host contests/giveaways, and go live together as the event approaches. Sharing your social media audiences with one another has the potential to significantly broaden reach. If you have access to a niche audience that your sponsor really wants to reach, let them know that. And as briefly and concisely as possible, let them know exactly how you plan to give them access to these customers. What is your social media strategy? How will your promotions target the specific audiences your sponsor wants to reach? These are the things you need to think about before approaching a sponsor. A solid strategy is key.

It all depends on who your sponsor's audience is and what they want. For example, you could have a brand ambassador present a contest or raffle. If you are an influencer or has a large social media following, you could offer to promote the sponsor's products consistently on social media or present a prize in a contest at the live event. A brand ambassador from your sponsor's company could also introduce or perform a musical or comedy act on stage. There are countless creative ways to reach your sponsor's audiences in a memorable way that delivers value. Again, you just have to know their audience.

Knowing your sponsor's audience involves more than just learning demographics. Many of today's businesses build in-depth buyer personals to gain a more nuanced, personal understanding of their target audience. Demographic information is important because it describes age, gender, income status, and other factors that obviously influence buyer behavior. But these basic facts are not nuanced enough to inform a highly personalized marketing strategy that helps forge an emotional connection between a business and a target audience. You nee to know what your customers value, what their attitudes are, what kind of lifestyle they lead, and what their aspirations are. Getting to know customers on a more personal level helps build brand loyalty.

This is true for your sponsors, too. So it doesn't hurt to understand their target audience on a psychological level and aim to deliver an experience that will appeal to them. Your promotions should also be informed by this strategy. Where do your sponsor's customers like to communicate? What social media platform do they use to interact most often? What do they talk about with each other on social media, and what seems most important to them? These are things you need to know to show sponsors that you will be able to build a sustainable relationship with their target audience.

2. Let Data Inform Your Activation

With today's technology, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. It's just a matter of putting it to strategic use. Image by

With today's event tech, you can glean a lot of pertinent information from registration data. Just a few examples: Contact information, which price options sell best, and which days of the week see the most ticket sales. For further, more detailed information, you might also want to create a survey that helps you get to know your (and your sponsor's) audience better. It's a good idea to send out a survey before and after the event. That post-event survey is important because it lets you know what your attendees enjoyed and what could be done differently next time to satisfy them. And naturally, catering to your sponsor's attendees strengthens your relationship with your sponsor for future collaborations.

You could also invite your sponsors to include some key marketing questions in your surveys. This way, they have the opportunity to gain the specific information they need to enhance their strategy and reach their target audience.

You can also provide sponsors with real time data as the event happens. They can see in no uncertain terms how the data has changed from the first announcement of the event through till the end. For example, if brand awareness has increased,this may very well be evident in website traffic, social media reach, sales, and conversion rate.

As always, your proposal should concisely explain how their sponsorship will help them achieve their objectives. Many times, engagement is a key objective- so tell them exactly how you plan to measure this. Tracking social mentions and posts, on-site and pre-event engagement, and post-event feedback is a boon to your sponsor. When sponsors see tangible results, they're much more likely to continue to invest in a mutually benefit relationship with you.

You'll definitely want to let sponsors know what tools you'll be using to capture data. Without going into too much distracting detail about how your tools and apps work, explain how their key functions will provide specific data. Generally speaking, the more specific and nuanced information your software gleans, the better: Sponsors want to see tangible proof that their objectives are being met.

3. Deliver Continued Value

When it comes to delivering value in an experiential market, you want to think long-term. Image by

As we mentioned above, you will be much more attractive to sponsors if you have a strategy that lends itself to a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. This means delivering value before, during, and after an event. Capturing engaging, visually appealing footage of your event is important because it gives viewers a window into the action. You may want to join forces with your sponsor to create fun BTS footage before the event and share it as part of a countdown. This not only builds excitement, but it also makes attendees feel like they're part of the process. The more targeted content you can share on the channels where niche audiences spend time, the better.

We talk about surveys a lot, but this bears repeating: The value of surveys and live-polling is often underestimated- and it shouldn't be. Live-polling at an event can tell you what exhibits are the most popular among which groups. When analyzed thoughtfully, this data yields psychographic information you need to coordinate successful marketing efforts with your sponsor. It can tell you how your sponsor's brand is perceived by your attendees and how they feel about specific booths or sessions.

In your proposal, briefly describe your strategy for collaboration and delivering value post-event. How do you plan to keep engaging your sponsor's audience and being an asset to your sponsor? Will you provide product promotion, generate leads via ads, and/or use personalized email marketing to keep connected? These days, a social media strategy is non-negotiable and must be a part of the package you offer.

In Conclusion

Now more than ever, sponsorship is a vital part of growing an event business. With the return to in-person events after the industry was devastated by the pandemic, resources are less abundant than they once were. This is especially true for small businesses. For them, strategy is even more important to attracting sponsors. With rapidly advancing technology and financial losses on the scene, it's a strange time for the industry. It's also a very competitive time, and the event world has always survived and thrived on teamwork.

Hopefully, these tips will help you score just the right sponsorship to grow your business. It's a time for rebuilding, so collaboration is more necessary than ever.


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