Unless your company is already financially sound, you’re probably going to heavily rely on corporate sponsorship for funding your event. Unfortunately, acquiring sponsorship isn’t as easy as just sending out a request via email. Sponsors are bombarded with dozens of request letters hardly different from your own.
Here are six secrets to up your prospects of securing sponsorship and cultivating a long-term relationship with event sponsors.
1. Check Sponsor Guidelines, if Applicable
Some companies sponsor events so often that they have created their own guidelines that outline their terms and conditions and application instructions. Review the guidelines if one is available and be careful not to include anything in your proposal that runs counter to the funding rules.
Some companies, for example, only sponsor during certain times of the year. Don’t be requesting event sponsorship for your March conference when the company is only providing funds during fall and winter. Likewise, don’t request a fund of $10,000 when the guideline clearly states that $8,000 is the maximum it provides.
2. Outline What You’re Willing to Provide in Return
Sponsors aren’t sponsoring your event out of altruism. They do it because they get exposure out of it in return. Your Proposal should outline in detail what you’re willing to give in return for the funds. You should include some sort of tiered system.
The following is an example of what is meant by this:
- Tier 1: $1,000 sponsorship - include sponsor logo on two swag items
- Tier 2: $2,000 sponsorship – include sponsor logo on digital signage
- Tier 3: $3,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor representative to speak for 10 minutes before conference presentation.
- Tier 4: $4,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor to set up a booth at the venue
- Tier 5: $5,000+ sponsorship – all of the above
The sponsor may also want to negotiate. Perhaps they’re interested in tier 1 but want their logo on three swag items. Be willing to negotiate to come to an agreement beneficial for both parties.
3. Foster a Long-Term Relationship
It’s easier to retain an existing sponsor than to find a new one. This is why you need to make an effort to keep the ones you managed to acquire. To remain on their good side, do some nice things for the sponsor even after the event. Perhaps you can write a positive review of one of the sponsor’s products or even offer some incentive to your followers who click your link and purchase the product.
By continuing to exhibit a gesture of goodwill, the sponsors will view your company favorably come time for your next event.
4. Be an Active Partner in Your Sponsor’s Charity
Some companies are actively involved in a charity or even have one they started themselves. Offer to do something for the charity. Maybe you can invite a representative to the event and allow that person to speak to your audience.
You should continue to be an active contributor for the charity after the event. You can create a video about the organization with a donation link, or volunteer some of your staff to partake in the charity’s own events.
A charity organization is a common collective that brings you and your sponsor closer together. If you are already active in a charity and your sponsor isn’t, then offer to make them an honorary participant in the organization. This will surely benefit the sponsor’s branding by adding a philanthropic aspect to their image.
5. Consider a Limited-Time Offer
It’s commonplace for for-profit companies to routinely provide special offers, such as 24-hour-only deals or promotional giveaway events.
The idea is to drive traffic to stores or online shops. You can do something similar when courting your sponsors. If you have reached out to multiple sponsors at once, then you can give a special offer to the first sponsor that signs on.
For instance, if you’re using a tier system like the one outlined earlier, then maybe you give the sponsor the next highest tier benefit (i.e. tier 3 benefits for tier 2 contribution).
You should make efforts to nurture sponsors the way you nurture customers throughout a sales process.
6. Pre-event Sponsor Powwow
Do you know what brings people together better than anything else? Food and drinks. Obviously, sponsors want a piece of your consumer base. You can do this by hosting a smaller get-together event in the days leading up to the main conference. This will be mainly for the attendees to get to know the sponsor and their products. Make it a food-centric event with plenty of refreshments served.
Of course, hosting a separate event is a whole new undertaking and entails additional expenses. Since this event is for the sponsors, let them know that you’ll help organize it if they completely foot the expenses.
Event management also includes your interactions with your sponsors. Sponsorship is a win-win solution for both parties, so make it known what your event brings to the table. A successful event means success for the sponsors since they benefit from the brand exposure. Show prospect sponsors why your proposal is a golden goose for them.