Creating the sponsorship plan
Companies spend about $6.8 billion annually sponsoring major events such as the Olympic Games, Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby. Companies also sponsor smaller events, ranging from concerts and conventions to luncheons and fundraisers. Sponsors typically pay a premium, but sponsorships also may be in exchange for goods or services, advertising or media exposure. Finding a sponsor for your event makes good business sense, both for you and for them.
In this post, you’ll learn some tips for attracting event sponsors. Here, I’ll focus on how to craft sponsorship plans. In part 2, you’ll learn how to use them.
RELATED STORY: Attracting event sponsors, Part 2
Why companies sponsor events
Why do companies sponsor events? Event sponsorship:
- Enhances the reputation and image of the sponsoring company through association.
- Gives product brands high visibility among key audiences.
- Provides a focal point for marketing efforts and sales campaigns.
- Generates publicity and media coverage.
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Create a sponsorship plan
Knowing what companies stand to gain through sponsorship, identify what audience your event reaches and what companies target that specific market. Create a sponsorship plan with these potential sponsors in mind. Ask yourself these questions:
- What value does this sponsorship offer potential sponsors?
- Why is your event sponsorship a better match for the company than other proposals it may receive?
- Ads in programs or show materials (ranging from small black and white ads to full-page color ads)
- Tickets to your event (e.g., two tickets, a full table or a dozen tickets)
- Booth space at a tradeshow (ranging from a single 10×10 standard booth to a large island booth)
- A foursome for a golf tournament
- The company’s name mentioned in news releases
- Featured company logo on event Web site/Web page, etc.
The size of the benefit should reflect the sponsorship level. For example, a sponsor that gives $50,000 should receive considerably more benefits than a company that gives $5,000.
Sponsorship plans also need to show the value of benefits being given. For example, if tickets to a formal gala cost $150, a table of 10 tickets would have a value of $1,500. If the company gets 10 tickets for a $10,000 sponsorship, they will feel as if they’re getting $1,500 back in goodwill services. But don’t give away the farm. There’s no need to try and “balance out” a sponsorship with giveaways that equal their sponsorship payment. Make sure you value the benefits your event offers and price them, and sponsorships, accordingly. For example, if this is the fifth year of an industry conference, use the history of attendance you have to base advertising, ticket, booth and sponsorship costs on for the upcoming conference.
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How many sponsors do you need?
What is the total cost of your event? Use that to determine the number of sponsorship dollars needed to make the event profitable. Typically, different sponsorship plans have different names, such as platinum, gold, silver and bronze. If it is possible to relate sponsorship levels to your industry, be creative. For example, sponsorship plans related to a theater/movie event may be named: Director’s Circle, Producer, Playwright, Actor and Designer.
You also can have separate sponsors for separate activities during an event. For example, think of all the components you have during one conference and break them into areas companies can sponsor. Here are some potential sponsorship areas:
- Web café
- Opening and closing receptions
- Casino night
- Coffee break
- Shuttle buses
- Meal functions
As long as the sponsor benefits match the dollar value, all sponsors are recognized, and communication is clear, you can create as many types of sponsorship levels as you need. Create different price points for sponsorship, so a wide range of companies may be able to sponsor your event. Not every company will be able to afford to be the platinum sponsor, but several may be able to sponsor a table at a dinner or afford your coffee break.
To go exclusive or not
When creating sponsorship plans, also consider creating levels of sponsorships that have some exclusivity, either completely or by industry. Why is that a good idea?
You can avoid potential sponsor conflicts and charge a premium by giving only one industry-specific company sponsorship of an event, or making different levels of sponsorship exclusive. How far you restrict sponsorship will depend on the event’s needs. It may make things easier for you if you offer multiple-year sponsorship plans to major sponsors — assuming the sponsor is not too high-maintenance and the size of the sponsor plan is enough to make sense financially.
So, now you have a rough draft of your sponsorship plan. In Part II, I’ll tell you how to put it to use.
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Jackie Thornton, M.S., CMP, is President of Global Marketing and PR Inc., which offers event planning, marketing and public relations services. She also has taught event planning certificate courses, and taught a class on Crisis Management at the April 24, 2008 PYM LIVE event. Sources used in preparation for this article include “Public Relations Strategies and Tactics.”
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