If you plan on hosting an event, one of the first questions that often comes to mind is how you are going to fund it. Unless your company is already well established and has a generous marketing budget, you’re going to have to look elsewhere to get your event financed. The logical solution is to seek out sponsors.
Finding sponsorship, though, is like trying to get hired for a job. Do expect to submit proposals and get rejected or not get a response at all. Don’t fret, though, there are strategies you can implement to make your company look like a more attractive applicant worthy of company X and Y’s sponsorship.
1. Make Your Proposal Stand Out
When you’re job hunting, do you send the same generic cover letter to every company? If you do, you’ll be lucky to get a response at all. Your proposal has to stand out in one way or another. Keep in mind, after all, that the company likely reviews proposals like yours on a daily basis. Why should the company sponsor you over the other applicants?
Consider the following ways to give your proposal the “wow” factor:
- Tell your company story. Did your company have humble beginnings? Was it founded as a family business dedicated to keeping the industry service local? Make an emotional connection if you can to strike a chord with the sponsoring company.
- Describe what you do. What is your mission statement and how does your company live up to it on a daily basis?
- Describe your demographic audience
- Be specific about the estimated funding amount needed. This includes a breakdown of what portion of funding is needed for what area, such as venue rental, food, flying in guest speakers, and so forth.
2. Offer Incentives
Sponsorship is a give-and-take relationship. What do the sponsors get out of funding your event? The agreement may include giving the sponsor a booth or exhibit or placing their logo on event promotional banners and flyers. Sponsors want as much bang for their buck. What else are you going to do to provide more bang?
Here are some ideas to help sweeten the deal:
- Mention the sponsor’s company in passing in your blog posts or email newsletters.
- Provide incentives, such as freebies or discounts for customers that purchase the sponsor’s product or sign up for its service.
- Include the sponsor’s logo in all of your promotional gear
- Encourage your social media followers to “like” or share the sponsor’s content
If you’re willing to give more than take, then that shows to the sponsors that you are serious and intent on making the event happen one way or another.
3. Offer a “Minimum Risk” Solution
Sponsors are obviously taking a risk by sponsoring your company. This is especially the case if your business is still relatively unknown. For this reason, why not propose a “trial” deal? Instead of requesting for the full funding amount, ask for a smaller portion in exchange for something small in return. If you need $100,000, for instance, offer to settle for $10,000. In return, you’ll allow the sponsor to have one booth, one guest speaker, a logo on one promotional item, or something like that.
This little risk, little gain approach allows the sponsor to test the waters with your company. This way, they don’t take a big hit if the event bombs. This also allows sponsors to get a good gauge whether to move forward with the relationship for future events. Of course, with this method, you will need multiple sponsors in order to fully fund your event though that’s how it should be. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by relying solely on a single sponsor.
4. Form a Partnership With Better Established Companies
Your company may simply not have enough brand recognition to get sponsors on your side. This is why you should outreach to other companies within the same industry and form some kind of joint event. This way, potential sponsors will see that you are partnered with a company that has a better reputation than your own and therefore, may be better able to draw a bigger event turnout.
When seeking out companies to form a joint partnership, look for establishments within your niche but that is not a direct competitor. Otherwise, there will be a conflict of interest. If your company sells dietary supplements, for example, then a company that sells exercise equipment would be a good company to get in touch with.
5. Study Your Sponsors
Do your homework on each sponsor you reach out to. Study any current events or transitions the sponsor may be going through. Are they in the midst of releasing a new product, merging with another company, or hosting an event of its own? Take advantage of these moments by incorporating it in some form into your event. If the sponsor is about to release a new product, then it goes without saying that they’re going to want to market the hell out of it. Reach out to the sponsor and let them know that your event is a great opportunity for them to showcase their new product and acquire a new audience base.
Follow the sponsor on their blog or keep up with them on their social media channels to find out if there’s anything special or noteworthy taking place. Make mention of this in your proposal with a plan on how your event can benefit them in relation to that product launch, merging, or other major happenings.
6. Be Willing to Rub Elbows With Potential Sponsors
Sponsors are ultimately businesses and not philanthropic organizations. They want something in return for funding your event. The key is to be an effective communicator and show in clear terms what makes your event worth the sponsor’s marketing dollars. Be confident in your approach and you just might hear back from sponsors who may otherwise skip over your proposal without giving it more than a moment’s glance.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 6 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.