This post was initially shared on Crains Business Magazine's Out of Office section, written by Liz King.
Event sponsorships are a critical component of any successful event. Ticket revenue can be unpredictable, but sponsorships are usually secured farther in advance and backed by larger companies. For an event planner, sponsors help reduce the risk of a successful event and companies are able to widely increase their reach. It’s a win-win. But - the question is - How we can make sure that sponsorships don’t become a logo for cash exchange with limited benefit for our attendees? Here are a few creative ways to integrate sponsors for your next event.
First of all, make sure you listen before you pitch
When starting the planning process, event planners are trained to create a deck that outlines all of the sponsorship opportunities and pitch them to a wide variety of companies. However, there is a huge reward for event planners and sponsors alike if we slow this process down a bit. It is important to make sure that the target companies align with the event you’re hosting. You also need to ensure that your event can be designed to allow a great interaction between these two parties. Then, set up a meeting with target sponsors and learn more about their marketing goals. Learn to listen before you pitch – make sure that the options you share with potential sponsors are directly in line with their marketing goals. This helps them see the win earlier and also makes sure that you are setting yourself up for success.
Create unique activations
Most people go for a similar set of sponsor options – name badges, bags at the event and more. But, how can you create a bigger win for your sponsors and your event? For example, perhaps your sponsor could host a social media photo booth that takes pictures of your attendees and shares them out on social networks. You can brand the images with the event name along with the sponsor's logo to maximize exposure for all. Consider some of the strengths of your sponsors so that you can craft an experience for your attendees while showcasing your sponsors well.
Brands are always looking for technology to expand their reach. Listing their logo and a description of the company on your website is a great first step, but think about other ways that you can use technology. Including them on social media promotions, influencer blog reports about your event and listing them in your mobile app are great add ons. Brands love to be showcased in a way that allows the attendees to click and access information directly from their websites.
ROI and Communication
A major area for improvement in the event planner/sponsor relationship is communication. Too often, we take our sponsors for granted, and we don’t communicate with them enough about changes to the event or more ways to integrate them. Offering incredible value will always retain the sponsors that you have. It’s also critical that you help brands understand the return on their investment. Make sure that you have post event debriefs with each sponsor that is complete with demographic information about your attendees, any statistics you can pull about engagement with the brand (i.e. mentions on social media channels) and testimonials.
All of these tips will put you above and beyond the average event planner. It will certainly develop loyal sponsors who will come back year after year to find new ways to align their brand with your events.