How to Get Sponsors for Your Next Event (and Beyond!)
For many members, events represent one of the biggest draws of an association. Events provide some of the biggest member benefits, accommodating networking and educational opportunities while also bringing in a massive amount of revenue to the hosting association.
Of these revenue opportunities, sponsorships often contribute a significant amount. Not only can sponsorships increase your event budget, but they can help attract new audiences and bolster your credibility as well!
Yet, many associations don’t quite know where to start when recruiting sponsors.
Thankfully, while the process can seem daunting at first, there are a few steps you can take to take the guesswork out of it all. Below, you’ll find an outline of some of the things you can do to appeal to the sponsors of your choice.
Without further ado, let’s delve into what it takes to get the support you need for your next event!
1. Develop Your Brand
Before you approach any potential sponsors, it’s important to build a strong brand. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single or simple way of accomplishing this.
Every sponsor that signs on to your event will be putting their name next to yours, so you need to think about the vetting process these brands will go through and ensure you measure up. That may mean beefing up your website and making sure everything is accurate and up-to-date. You may also need to ensure that your mission statement is clear and something that your desired sponsors will support.
You’ll also want to clean up and strengthen your social media accounts. This will help demonstrate that you hold a solid position in your industry and that your members and consumers recognize this.
For many sponsors, nothing is more attractive than an association with an active community. Give your members the space and reason to be active, such as an online forum or a well-attended social media channel. Each of these factors will combine to help define your brand identity.
The more a sponsor knows and understands your organization, the more willing they will be to support it.
2. Know Your Audience and Your Event
The biggest reason why organizations sponsor events is to reach the attendees. This means that associations should know who their audience is before ever reaching out to potential sponsors.
Start by getting some information and statistics about your attendees. Whatever you can learn about your ideal sponsors’ audience can prove useful as well. If your target demographics overlap or your primary members are an underutilized demographic for the sponsor, a sponsorship could carry more value.
You can also reach out to your audience and ask them what type of sponsors they want to see at future events. You can use this information in your proposal, informing the brand that there is demand for a partnership. Your customers likely know, trust, and follow the sponsor already, so there is a mutual benefit already in place. Your attendees will appreciate sponsors more as well!
3. Seek Out Aligned Organizations
One of the best sponsorship search approaches is to seek out brands that align with your organization in various ways.
Perhaps you share similar goals or missions that you can highlight in your pitches. There’s a good chance that you share a similar audience with the proposed sponsor if both organizations are pointed in the same direction and looking for the same things.
You’ll also want to look at your upcoming events. Think about the themes of the events and what sponsors might value that messaging most.
A good method for identifying potential sponsors is to look at related events from the recent past. If an organization has sponsored a similar event, that means they are already familiar with the industry, the audience demographics, and the returns on their investment.
While some sponsors may be loyal to your competition, most are open to any and all ways of improving their own businesses!
4. Fill Out the Proposal
In addition to including much of the information above, you need to ensure that your sponsorship proposal clearly outlines how the sponsor’s investment will generate a return.
It’s important to be as specific as possible. Use as much data as you have access to in order to reflect the potential and actual value–remember, numbers talk!
Use all of the information you currently have and fill in the blanks with numbers from past events. Consider ticket and registration numbers, resulting sales, attendance numbers, specific demographics, vendor information, social media engagement, website traffic, and past sponsorship and advertising returns.
Possible sponsors won’t know what they’re missing unless you show them, so make sure to dazzle them with your experience!
5. Provide Integration Options
As a way to improve the value of a sponsorship deal for your events, think of ways that you can integrate them; this can add some extra incentive to your proposal and give sponsors something more to consider.
Some possible integration options can include offering the customers of your sponsors free admission to the event (or even a membership with your association!). You may try using the sponsor’s brand of technology during sessions or giving them an exhibitor booth.
Think about what would be attractive to your organization if you were to be a sponsor. If it sounds too costly, don’t worry–adding non-financial benefits to your proposal can still be a powerful motivator! Get creative with it and you’ll have sponsors lined up in no time.
6. Offer Different Packages
When it comes to sponsorship opportunities, one size rarely fits all.
To give your potential sponsors some choice and flexibility, consider offering a variety of packages. Allow them to choose how invested they want to be by setting up a tiered system. A basic sponsorship package can open the door to some really impactful brands that might otherwise not get involved.
You can also allow for customizability in the sponsorship. Enable organizations to suggest their own level of involvement and work with them to find an appropriate middle ground. Giving over some control can also lead to more invested sponsors; they may take on more responsibility in the success of the event and give more of themselves in return!
7. Take the Event Online
Once an in-person event is complete, most event sponsorships come to an end. For some organizations, this is how they want it set up.
Many, however, would love to have their sponsorship extended beyond the timeframes and location of the event. This is what live streaming and online events can offer. By posting videos of the event online–both during the actual event and after it ends–traditional sponsorships can take on new life.
Not only is an online audience different in many ways, but live streamed events can cast a much larger net. The recorded events can be played long afterward, which means sponsors can receive returns much longer than they would otherwise.
As a result of the boosted audience and reach, online events can also change the type of sponsors available. Your association may be able to look for sponsors outside of your local area or explore possible sponsors with a greater online presence.
Think about how live streams will alter your event and your audience, then look for sponsors who might benefit most from this change.
By following the tips above, you can increase the chances of success the next time your association looks for sponsors. It’s essential to put in the time and effort to properly structure your proposal and effectively represent your event (and its value!). Gain an edge in appealing to potential sponsors and secure the support you need for your next event–you’ve got this!