If you plan on hosting an event, you’re also facing a big question: how are you going to fund it? Established companies might be able to dip into a generous marketing budget — but smaller companies likely need some help. A great financing option? Seek out sponsors.
Finding a sponsor, though, can be like trying to get hired for a job. Some of your proposals will be rejected or get no response at all. Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to make your event a more attractive sponsorship opportunity.
1. Give your proposal “wow” factor by providing all the details
When you’re job hunting, you don’t send the same generic cover letter to every company. The same principle applies to event sponsorship proposals.
Your proposal has to stand out. After all, the company likely reviews proposals like yours almost daily. So why should the company sponsor your event over other opportunities?
In your proposal, paint that picture by including these details:
- Tell your company story. Did your company have humble beginnings? Was it founded as a family business for the local community? Make an emotional connection to strike a chord with the sponsoring company.
- Describe what you do. What’s your mission statement, and how does your company live up to it on a daily basis?
- Describe your audience’s demographics. It’s best if your target market matches the potential sponsor’s. That way, they know they are reaching the right audience by contributing to your event.
- Be specific about the funding you need. Don’t beat around the bush. Break down what the financing will go toward, such as venue rental, food, flying in guest speakers, and so forth.
2. Offer the sponsor incentives
Sponsorship has to be a give-and-take relationship. Sponsors want as much bang for their buck, of course. So what will the sponsors get out of funding your event?
Here are some ideas to help sweeten the deal:
- For trade shows or exhibitions, giving the sponsor a free booth.
- Place the sponsor’s name or logo on event promotional banners and flyers.
- Mention the sponsor’s company in your blog posts, email newsletters, and social media posts.
- Give event-related freebies or discounts to 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, it shows the sponsors that you’re serious about making the event a success.
3. Offer a “minimum risk” solution
Sponsoring your event is a risk, especially if your company is relatively small. For this reason, why not propose a “trial” deal?
Instead of requesting the full amount you need, ask for a smaller portion in exchange for something small in return. For instance, if you need $100,000, ask for $10,000. In return, you’ll offer some of the incentives listed above for free.
This “little risk, little gain” approach lets the sponsor test the waters with your company. This way, they don’t take a big hit if the event doesn’t go well.
This strategy works especially well if you want to work with this sponsor for future events. The sponsor can use the test run to gauge whether to work with you on future events.
Of course, with this method, you’ll need multiple sponsors to fully fund your event. That’s not a bad thing! With this method, you don’t put all your eggs in one basket by relying solely on a single sponsor.
4. Form a partnership with more established companies
If your company is young or small, it might not have enough brand recognition or credibility to attract event sponsors. The solution? Reach to other companies in your industry and partner up to produce the event.
When potential sponsors see a more established brand attached to the event, they might have more confidence in the event. It may be better able to draw a bigger event turnout.
What kinds of companies are best for a joint partnership? Look for brands within your niche that aren’t direct competitors. (Otherwise, there will be a conflict of interest.) If your company sells dietary supplements, for example, try partnering with an exercise equipment brand.
5. Study what your potential sponsors are up to
Do your homework on each sponsor before reaching. Scan the news for things like:
- Has the sponsor been involved in any recent events?
- Have there been changes to the company or its leadership?
- Do major current events affect the sponsor’s business?
- Are they launching a new product?
Take advantage of these moments by noting them in your proposal and possibly weaving it into the event. If the sponsor just released a new product, you can help them market it at your event. When you reach out to the sponsor, sell your event as an opportunity to showcase their new product and attract new customers.
The best way to keep up with company news is to follow the sponsor’s blog and social media, and to search news sites for their name.
Stay confident in your sponsorship proposal
Ultimately, remember that potential sponsors are businesses — not philanthropic organizations. They want something in return for funding your event.
The key is to be an effective communicator and clearly show what makes your event worth the sponsor’s marketing dollars. Be confident in your approach and you just might hear back from sponsors.
More like this:
How to Write an Effective Sponsor Proposal
4 Ways to Increase Your Event Sponsor ROI
How to Build Meaningful Relationships With Event Sponsors
How to Get Event Sponsors Your Attendees Will Love
4 Fresh Content Ideas for Your Sponsorship Proposals
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has five years of event project management experience, and he has worked on many successful events. He shares his knowledge by writing and speaking on TechsyTalk, EventIcons, and The Event Tech Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.