If you run an event for your business, chances are that you are looking for sponsors to help offset costs or create more reach. Ultimately, the best event sponsorship collaborations stem from two businesses having aligned markets and interests. Although the strongest event sponsorship opportunities can take time to develop, there are steps you can take to begin building them. If you are seeking event sponsorship, here are five steps to consider to find the win-win relationships that will lead to lasting support for your event.
Match Target Markets
Companies may have various priorities when they consider what events to sponsor. However, one of the key factors they evaluate is how to reach their target market. Companies that seek event sponsorship opportunities that allow them to reach their target market are more likely to be long-term partners if they are happy with your event.
In order to find the companies that have a business reason to be steady allies with you, you must first clearly identify the target markets of your own event.
You may have many target markets. Your event probably has multiple segments, such as volunteers, VIPs, general attendees, vendors, etc. Within these categories, there may be sub-segments. Make a list and include all of these groups so you have a visual of all the target markets for your event. Once you have the list, you can do research on companies that are trying to reach these different target markets.
This may sound like a lot of work, but you now have a list of companies that have a good reason to listen to your pitch. You can be confident in your approach.
Create a Sponsorship Deck
Companies that are considering event sponsorship need a great deal of information from you. A sponsorship deck is a customary form for them to request. The strongest sponsorship decks will answer all of their questions, enabling them to find the information they need about your mission, your audience, your team, your supporters, and any other background details that would be relevant to them.
One of the key components of a sponsorship deck is the part where you explain your sponsorship levels. This is your chance to outline some of the standard packages you offer for your event or programs.
There are different strategies for benefit levels or what facets of your event you might earmark for sponsors. Some sponsors want to support programs. Some want to support specific elements of your event. Some want social media exposure. Some want PR. Some want to reach the audience at your event while others want exposure during the promotional process. Some are looking for branding (get some ideas here on how you might recognize your sponsors).
Show your sponsors what you can do for them and how you will help them achieve their goals – and let them know you want to tailor the sponsorship to be right for them.
Find the Right Contact
In any company, there are only certain people who are evaluating event sponsorship opportunities. Your goal is to get your pitch into their hands. So, before you make a pitch, you want to know who should receive it.
No two companies are structured exactly the same way, so it often requires a little digging to figure out who the proper contact is. You might start by looking for a Foundation director or a Community Relations or Marketing department. Large companies may have many people in this department looking after different segments. Once you have the right department, do some research to find a specific contact who manages sponsorships or can direct you to the correct person.
Craft Your Pitch
Once you know who you need to appeal to, you can start your outreach. Send them an email with some brief information about who you are, your event, and some of the quick compelling reasons they should get to know you. If you can, offer them an experience that will be free to them so they can learn more about your event or organization. Attach your sponsorship deck.
Your pitch is your introduction, but ideally it is the beginning of a lengthy conversation. Leave as much room as you can to connect with them, learn more about their interests, and show that you are interested in a long-term, win-win solution.
Be Patient and Persistent
It is rare that a company will get one email from you and immediately decide to sponsor your event. It may take years of getting to know your organization and event before they are prepared to commit. So, if you haven’t gotten a hard “no,” look for ways to continue to give them further information and casual updates.
Invite your key contact to coffee, offer them free tickets to see your event this year, or give them some other way of meeting your team or clients with no commitment necessary. As you build your relationship, you can take comfort in knowing that you are building the right relationship because of all the great work you have already done to find businesses with mutual interests.
Event sponsorship is a process. Taking time to research and pursue companies that will align with you in order to enhance their own business interests is a process that pays dividends. Following these five steps will help you find the win-win relationships that will lead to meaningful event sponsorship.