This is a guest blog from Nicola Lloyd, Head Of Event Marketing for Pearson Frank.
It feels like almost stating the obvious, but securing sponsorship for your events can be the difference between generating income and making a loss on an event. It is also fair to say that sponsorship can be the difference from your event idea sitting on your hard drive and it actually going ahead in the first place.
On the flipside, as a sponsor, it’s a great opportunity to get your brand visible in front of hundreds or thousands of your target audience, which can lead to new leads and a sizeable profit for your business.
With so much on the line, making the right impression to potential first time sponsors for your event is crucial. So once you’ve got a great idea for an event that’s unique and interesting, it’s time to try and attract some support to bring this idea to fruition.
Pearson Frank, who recently sponsored their first ever event in April 2017 are here to pass on some valuable knowledge they picked up in the process.
1. Give sponsors the information they need to make an informed decision
It’s all well and good if you have an idea of who your attendees are, but sponsors are equally keen to find out that information. You need to let prospective sponsors know who is likely to attend the event; age-range, gender, occupation, interests, contact details, etc. This is important because of two reasons:
Firstly, sponsors need to know that if they are going to invest money into your event, the people that they want to attract to their business are attending.
Secondly, sponsors can often use their own lead generation tactics to attract more attendees to ensure they receive a significant return on investment.
The easiest way to gather this data is by collecting it at the point of purchase; if guests need to register online to attend then you can gather a lot of information that way. Once you have all of this information at your disposal, you can pull together a customer profile to demonstrate to sponsors who will be attending and how they can convert attendees into customers.
In your initial proposal, you should also cover all of the ‘obvious’ information. What will be the name of your event? When is it? How long will it last? Is it a one-off or a repeating event? Where will it be held? The location is especially important for potential sponsors. If attending, they need to know if their staffing capacity allows for representatives from the company in that area to physically attend without significant loss of business.
2. Use previous event examples and experiences working with sponsors
If you’ve held similar sized events in the past you could provide case studies that demonstrate to potential sponsors that you know what you are doing and can be trusted to deliver a high-quality event.
Try to provide evidence of how sponsoring one of your previous events has benefitted similar companies in the past whether it be through growth in their customer base, increases in social media numbers, or positive brand recognition through association. If sponsors can see how their competitors have benefitted, it’s more likely they’ll be interested to invest in your next event.
3. Make sure you have a strong social presence
A quick way that sponsors will gauge the potential success of an event held by an organisation is by looking at their social media accounts. Questions such as; Are they connected to their target user base? Do their fans and followers engage with their content? Does the organisation provide a regular stream of content? Essentially, can you be trusted to get as many people at the event as you say you can? Judging companies by their social following isn’t by any means fool-proof, but it’s a quick and reasonably reliable way to make a top line judgement call, so ensure your social channels are updated and engaging!
4. Use visual resources to help drive narrative
They say a picture can speak a thousand words, so, along with your proposal you should try and include some visuals to help drive your narrative home and make it easier for sponsors to see how they can fit into that narrative. Have you got any infographics about your attendees? Have you got any photos or videos from previous events that will help with striking an emotive chord with your potential sponsor?
Another ‘easy win’ is to go to your venue and take photos so sponsors can see the possible layout and shape of the room and how their brand presence might fit in. If you are quite far along in your planning, a floor plan can also be useful for potential sponsors and this gives you an opportunity to segment different sections of the venue to different price points of sponsorship, e.g. branding at the entrance compared to branding in the toilets.
5. Flexibility to choose a sponsorship package that’s right for the sponsor
It’s also worth mentioning that the costs of sponsoring events can very quickly add up. Alongside the upfront cost, there is also: travel and accommodation for staff, employee expenses, wages for staff who are attending, printed promotional materials (flyers, business cards, pull-up banners, t-shirts, branded merchandise, etc). If you are offering a booth then sponsors also need to factor in furniture and decorations to make them stand out.
Event sponsorship is becoming ever more experiential. Your sponsorship packages should reflect that. Try and leave some room in your scheduled events for sponsored opportunities such as workshops, product demonstrations or speaking engagements. The key is to give your potential sponsors a wide range of opportunities and channels to communicate with your attendees through different ways and means.
6. What extra incentives can you offer your sponsor?
As well as outlining your own marketing strategy for the event in your initial pitch, think about what ‘extras’ you can also offer sponsors. You could include partners’ logos on your event website, brand mentions in all media releases and PR activity, or mentions on your social media channels. Another thing to mention is if you expect press to be in attendance which could lead to additional, free exposure for the potential sponsor.
As previously mentioned, the mounting costs can be a deterrent to some sponsors. Can you help with some of those costs? Do you have additional bulk-purchased accommodation that the sponsors could use? Could you offer discounted printing costs? You’re looking to form a partnership with your sponsors, something that lasts beyond the event, and giving something back – no matter how small – will always be appreciated.
Giving sponsors direct access to your customers through a mailshot or an attendee list can also be an extra bargaining chip. Access to this information can often open the door to a more sophisticated lead generation strategy.
7. Know who to contact
Sending an email to the CEO or Vice President of a company might seem like the obvious place to start, but in reality, they are hard-pressed with their time already and another email to them is like a raindrop in the ocean. Try and find out who handles the organisation’s marketing and communications and send them an email. Scour the company website or look on LinkedIn for a name to use. It’s always best to include a name (even if using a generic info@ or hello@ email address) as, even if your email doesn’t reach the right person at first, it will get forwarded on to the right person and has a stronger chance of being replied to, positively or negatively.
8. Return on investment: help sponsors estimate their potential lead value
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sponsorship is a numbers game. You can help your sponsors along by including the following in your initial proposal.
- How many people you expect to attend – and how many people have attended in previous years (if applicable)
- How many attendees are specifically relevant to the sponsor – i.e. how many are likely to convert into genuine customers
- The average conversion rate for previous sponsors in the same industry
- The total cost plus VAT
Sponsors might really love the idea of your event but regardless of its aesthetic appeal, the value of the deal needs to stack up in order for them to invest. If they can’t convert attendees into customers, the money they commit has no real ROI. If you can’t convince sponsors that there is a very real possibility of converting attendees into genuine customers then you are going to struggle to attract sponsors. Keep this in mind throughout the entire pitching process.