A sponsor is a supporter of an event and/or activity. Sponsorships come in many shapes and sizes, all with a different dollar value. The sponsorships you may be most familiar with are for golf tournaments, annual conventions or festivals.
On the surface, companies buy a sponsorship package to support an organization. But the business reason they do so is to raise brand awareness and sales among that audience. For me, personally, I tend to support companies who sponsor organizations I support, but because this type of exchange is difficult to measure in terms of ROI, I consider sponsorships to have more of a public relations value.
With budgets being tight, show managers are relying on sponsorships more than ever to get dollars added to the event’s bottom line. Before you can approach sponsors, you need to target companies that have a vested interest in reaching your attendees. You also need to have a list of sponsorship packages that can be purchased at various dollar levels. For example: Platinum Level – $25,000; Gold Level – $15,000; and Silver Level -$7,500. Or, you can give sponsors list of show-related items they can brand with their logo and message, such as conference bags, lanyards, coffee breaks, lunches, bus signage, and so on.
Let sponsors know what’s included with each sponsorship level and what they can expect to get in return for their investment. Also let them know what they need to provide to you in terms of artwork or digital files, as well as deadlines and the person to whom they should send those materials. Conversely, you need to understand what they expect to get out of their sponsorship, so you can measure and communicate to them how successful their involvement was after the event.
Avoid offering the same, stale sponsorship opportunities year after year. Ask potential sponsors what will be of the most value to them — perhaps they’d rather show a video than introduce the speaker, or maybe they’d like to have a presence on your social networks rather than put an ad on the newsletter. Use post-event feedback f to create next year’s packages, addressing what did or didn’t work.
Stay flexible. Being able to customize a sponsorship package to address a potential supporter’s marketing or ROI needs is what could give your proposal the edge over a competitor’s. And be prepared to barter; in today’s economy, many sponsors would rather trade in-kind products, services or promotional activity than commit to spending hard cash.
My parting word of advice is to think about what sponsorships are going to be best for your organization. The more unexpected and specific sponsor contributions are to your event, the more interested your attendees will be in engaging and supporting them. And that’s key, if you want those sponsors to come back next year.
This is my story for now, and I will be sticking to it.