This is a guest blog from Rasmus Bech Hansen, Co-founder of Airfinity, a UK based technology firm seeking to make it as easy, precise and accountable to sponsor an event as digital advertising.
The sponsor value of an event is in the data. This is a simple truth that many event organisers miss. No professional, or semi-professional event organiser can count on real financial sponsorship without data to back up their claims about how good their event actually is. It’s that simple. No reliable data = no serious financial sponsor.
Welcome to the world of accountable corporate spending, the increasing influence of procurement departments and sponsor managers who need to prove the return on investment of their activities.
The media industry took a long time to figure out the importance of data to advertisers. Event organisers make the same mistake at their peril. The days of cosy backroom deals, handshakes and I-support-you–because-I-like-you are over. No beautiful photos, well-designed sponsor decks or aggressive phone calls will solve this. If you don’t have the data, Forget about the sponsorship.
Less is more
The good news is that all events leave a significant data footprint, and it is pretty easy to get the data right. From social media mentions, to in event engagement, to speaker content and much more, there are a number of tools to help events capture all this data.
More is not always better. It can be tempting to pile the sponsorship deck with a long list of data points. I have seen sponsor decks with 10+ pages of data and graphs. This is NOT the way to persuade a sponsor to come on board. From my experience working on global B2B campaigns with event sponsorship at the core, corporate sponsors who get approached by multiple events, are time poor and look for a set of simple core data points which will allow them to quickly assess if your event fits their criteria.
Once you have passed the data hurdle, selling your unique event becomes much easier, and the conversation can turn to more qualitative aspects. But you need the data to start the conversation in the first place.
So, to help event organisers of all shapes and sizes land their next sponsor seamlessly, and with as little effort as possible, our team at Airfinity has spoken to lots of event sponsors, closely analysed the media world, and worked for more than a year on developing a simple standard of data points that really matter to sponsors. This boils down to five core data points.
The Five Golden Data Points
- Real attendee transparency
The number one reason any company sponsors an event is to reach the attendees. That is the unique selling point of an event. Real life attendees, who care about that topic and take time out of their busy lives to attend. No other format can deliver that. So obviously, event organisers need to provide a clear transparent picture of the attendees. Since event organisers usually don’t know their future attendees, they should provide good data from past events. Companies don’t need the names and email addresses, but they need an overview of the composition. What industry, how senior, which companies, and increasingly also gender split? If you only have time for one thing, then get this right.
- Total reach
The key metric all marketers are familiar with is reach. How many people will my message reach? Providing an accurate reach number, calculated as a total of your community that will be exposed to the sponsor message either via email, social media or other channels will make a sponsor feel much more comfortable writing a cheque. Reach also gives an indication as to the quality/popularity of your event and is thus an important signal (see 4).
It’s one thing to have great attendees and a big social following, but if no one pays attention, it’s not great for a sponsor. That’s why engagement, measured as social mentions during an event for example, is important. It signals the importance and the relevance of the event to a sponsor and is something sponsors want to know.
- Quality signals / ranking
The fourth data point is the hardest: Quality. How do you show a valid data point that tells a sponsor that your event is the right fit to associate their brand with? The truth is that quality is the sum of various clues a sponsor gets from an event. Everything from speakers (A, B, C lists?), venues, paid vs free, influencers following it etc. At Airfinity we have created an algorithmically derived score that ranks an event in its topic category. Alternatively, you could ask your audience to rank and rate your event and use that number.
- Other verified sponsors
Good sponsors attract good sponsors. But many sponsor decks have a huge number of logos flying around, which makes it quite hard for a sponsor to actually know who have been previous real financial sponsors vs. just supporters. Ideally, you should show verified sponsors with a reference/contact that the prospective sponsor can contact. Very few organisers do this, but this is what it takes to build confidence and trust.
These 5 core data points should take you far in landing your next sponsorship, and examples of how they can be visualised are illustrated here.