Getting sponsors to help finance your event is common practice. It is, however, not necessarily as easy as it sounds. This is because the market is saturated with conferences requesting sponsorships, and potential sponsors have plenty of choice. Putting some real thought into how you market the event to potential sponsors can help to ensure that you are successful in finding suitable funding partners.  Here are our tips on what to consider.

Events often offer different levels of sponsorship with different prices and benefits, but do not feel that this is essential – Whether for convenience or to attract a wide range of sponsors, both large and small, it is common to provide different levels of sponsorship, such as silver, gold and diamond. These different levels have different prices, and offer a different package of benefits, so your sponsors can choose their degree of involvement in the event. However, increasingly in some industries, events and sponsors are moving away from the package approach to a more bespoke option. This allows sponsors make up their own package from a defined range of benefits: à la carte, rather than ‘prix fixe’. This gives sponsors more flexibility to get what they want from the event, and discard benefits that they do not see as essential or useful.

Event sponsorship typically offers a speaker slot, but you can propose almost any benefit you think sponsors might want – Typically, sponsorship is all about publicity and awareness-raising, so sponsors are most likely to want a speaker slot in your programme. However, this is not necessarily the case, and you may want to be more flexible and/or offer options. Sponsors may, for example, be interested in having their branding on an internet café, speaker lounge, or permanent coffee station, especially if there is nothing that they particularly want to say to delegates. They may also like the idea of sponsoring catering, delegate bags or AV and technical equipment. All these offer branding opportunities without the need to put up a speaker. 

Make your proposal stand out to potential sponsors – A sponsorship proposal is a bit like a job application. It needs to be tailored to the audience, and make you stand out for all the right reasons. But first, it needs to grab your potential sponsor’s attention, and a good way to do that is to tell the story of the event and/or your company. Explain why you are running the event, and why it matters to you and to your potential sponsor. Provide an emotional ‘hook’, and then provide the logic to back up that ‘hook’.

Providing a detailed sponsorship proposal will make it easier for potential sponsors to decide – Your potential sponsors need to know what benefits they will get from sponsoring your event. We already know that sponsorship is about publicity and awareness-raising, but this is likely to be specific rather than general. Your sponsors will want to know more about your potential audience, including demographics, seniority, job types and so on. They will also want to know more about likely press coverage, and what pre- and post-event communication and dissemination is planned. Putting this information together in an attractive and easy-to-read package will make it easier for potential sponsors to make a rapid decision about your event.

You should expect to offer sponsor branding across a wide range of materials – More or less as standard, your sponsors’ logos should be included in all communication materials about the event. They should also be on all signage, including digital and non-digital. Sponsors should also have the option of providing written marketing material to be included in the delegate bags or packs. Offering the option to display a banner is also often welcome, and some sponsors welcome the use of a small meeting room at the event, for example, as a VIP room, press room or meeting room.  

Ongoing sponsor management is an important part of future success – It is always said that keeping a customer is significantly cheaper than acquiring a new one. The same goes for sponsors. Ensure that your sponsors are happy before, during and after the event, and it is quite likely that they will sign up to sponsor your next event too. Sponsor management is an important part of future sponsorship, both from that organisation, and others to whom you may be recommended. It is often the small things that matter most: regular updates on event progress, for example, and information and support that will help to facilitate contacts on site.

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