Let’s role play. You’ve decided to organize a brand new conference. You already found the perfect venue & setup hotel accommodations nearby for your guests. The event website is almost done. You just nabbed your first guest speaker. Everything is coming together and your planning team is pumped.
With all this progress, you start noticing that expenses are piling up. Guest speakers don’t come cheap and neither do venue rentals. “How are we going to pay for all this?”, whispers your internal monologue as the conference date creeps closer. Here’s an answer: sponsorships.
Sponsorships pay the bills. The problem is that it’s not always easy to attract them, especially for new events. Creating a event sponsorship proposal is the norm for getting sponsors. Unfortunately, too many events skip out on the details and fail at making a lasting impression. In this post, I’ll show you 7 tips to create a mindblowing proposal that will get businesses to open up their checkbooks.
Check out our Event Sponsorships 101 webinar for a deep dive into these actionable tips!
1. Identify Your Killer Value Proposition
This should be the first thing you do. Do not start pitching sponsors until you’ve nailed this down. What is a value proposition? Essentially, it’s a clear description of what your event is and why someone should sponsor it.
Your value prop should be a couple paragraphs max. To come up with a killer one, tie in your event’s mission and explain who your audience is. Summarize the benefits a sponsor receives and how the relationship will help them succeed. This could be brand recognition, lead generation, media exposure etc.
Think of the value proposition as the building blocks for your proposal. It’ll help you focus on the details that matter and maintain consistency throughout.
2. Research Like a Mad Scientist
A mistake that event planners often make is blindly sending their proposal to everyone. This is a big no-no. Unless your event is relevant to every single demographic (trust me, it’s not), you gotta put in the research to find the right sponsors to target.
Start by reaching out to your existing network. Not all your contacts might be interested but they could intro you to someone that is. While your massaging your network, create a spreadsheet of potential sponsors to target. Find information about their customers, what other events they’ve sponsored, and who is the main point of contact. In no time, you should have a nice list of targets you can start pitching to.
If you took the time to build out your value proposition, you’ll have a pretty clear understanding of your own target audience. Piecing together the products or services they use makes identifying targets that much easier.
3. Be Clear, Concise, & to the Point
You’re not writing a novel here. A sponsorship proposal shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to read through. Too much copy runs the risk of putting your readers to sleep.
Don’t clutter each page with a laundry list of bullet points. Follow the less is more principle and cut out the fluff. Your sponsorship targets will appreciate it.
4. Don’t Skimp on Quality Design
To be taken seriously, your proposal needs to look professional and of high quality. Don’t sell your event short by sending a proposal in a plain word doc with comic-sans font. This is where a graphic designer comes in handy.
Eye-catching imagery and a readable typeface can go a long way in generating interest. A good designer will highlight the stuff that matters and capture your brand essence. If you don’t have anyone on your team with design chops, turn to the online options. 99designs, Elance, & DesignCrowd are a few affordable solutions that will work wonders.
An easy way to see if your design is up to snuff: Read through your proposal as if you were a potential sponsor. If you’re not enticed to write a check, the targeted sponsors won’t be either.
5. Write a Cold Email That Works
How many times have you identified a sales email in your inbox before even opening it? Probably more times than you can count. Sales emails are so easy to catch because they all follow the same boring formula. A sentence about who they are and what company they represent. A blurb about why their product is amazing. Not even going through the trouble of acknowledging your name. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.
Sales emails suck because they make it all about them and not you, the customer. Take this into consideration when reaching out to your list of sponsorship targets. Make your email brief and to the point. Describe how the sponsorship can benefit them and personalize as much as possible. The more conversational the tone, the better.
6. Create an Attention Grabbing Opener
Think about who you’re sending this proposal to. If you’ve done the research, your point of contact is probably someone who pages through proposals all the time.
Grab their attention by being different. Highlight why your event is unique and use imagery that catches the eye. Your first few slides need to pull in their attention so they continue to read through. If you have terms & conditions, leave it to the end of the proposal.
7. Speak Your Sponsor’s Language
Take the opportunity to stand out to each sponsorship manager evaluating your proposal. A great way to do this is to tailor the original proposal to each target.
Let’s say you want to close a big vodka supplier for your platinum sponsorship. Go the distance by taking your original proposal and fine tuning it to their needs. This could mean highlighting certain demographics that specifically apply to the supplier. You can also get your designer to create mockups of their logo for any brand considerations you’re offering.
Creating visual triggers for a sponsorship manager can go a long way in closing your first big deal.
And there you have it. These 7 tips should get the creative juices flowing when creating your next event sponsorship proposal. Just remember to always start with your value proposition to use as the foundation moving forward.
If you liked these tips, I highly recommend checking out our Event Sponsorships 101 webinar. You’ll learn some valuable techniques that supplement the sponsorship finding & proposal process. You won’t want to miss it!
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“Don’t Skimp on Quality Design” — this is a great reminder! Excellent article on sponsorship.