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.
Finding sponsorship for your event can be a difficult part of the event planning process. But before you head out there with your hopes high and your pitch ready, ask yourself this question – how do you know if your sponsor is right for you?
The case for smaller scale sponsors
When an event organiser needs sponsorship, the natural inclination is either to think very big, or very small, but the sweet spot might be right in the middle.
A mid-sized marathon would typically target their partnership outreach towards the likes of Adidas, Nike and New Balance while also reaching out to local firms they personally know. A technology conference would work the phone to get Google, Amazon and Microsoft on board, whilst spamming their start-up mates to chip in.
Having analysed sponsorship matches and sales in quite some detail, it’s clear to me that this approach is wrong and most often a waste of time. Why? Big firms get overloaded with sponsorship requests. Everyone knows the big brands, so everyone approaches them for sponsorship. Whilst they might sponsor quite a few things, it’s still a fraction of the incoming requests. They also often have very complex decision procedures. An event organiser, therefore, risks wasting lots of time with low results.
The smaller firms and their friends face another challenge. Rarely would the someone sponsor an event being run by someone in their network – it wouldn’t be the obvious (or wise) spend of their limited marketing budget. The smaller you are, the less you have for sponsorship and thus the more wisely you have to spend it. Some might offer sponsorship because they like you, or want to support you, but the most sustainable event sponsorship is one where it adds real commercial value to the sponsor.
So where does this leave the event organiser?
In between the big and the small. Smart event organisers find the companies who are small enough not to be approached by every single organiser in the space, but big enough to have a dedicated budget for events. The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of those in the UK alone! In technology events, Airfinity has found more than 4000 active sponsors just like this and made them available to organisers, for free.
How does an event identify this sweet spot in the middle? Out of the many mid-sized companies, how do you know if they’re right? I have found that if you can answer “yes” to the following 4 simple questions, then you have likely found a company who will be interested sponsoring your event. But, bear in mind, it only works for midsized companies, not well-known companies.
The 4 questions you should ask
1) Has the sponsor sponsored similar events before?
2) Do the sponsor’s marketing messages and social media content align with your event mission?
3) Can the sponsor sell their product to your event’s attendees (product target group)?
4) Can the sponsor recruit from your attendees (job openings relevant to your community)?
So, if a company has already sponsored a similar event to yours, talks about the same thing on social as your event topic, has a product or service to sell to your attendees, and could potentially recruit while at the event, then you have a very good chance of securing sponsorship.
If you have trouble finding companies that fit number one, (maybe because there are no similar events with sponsors), then just stick to the other three requirements. You can still source from your network but, remember, unless a company has a dedicated event budget, it’s likely to be an uphill struggle. Leveraging the network of your contacts is a powerful way to multiply your outreach.
And always remember – no matter what event you have, the perfect sponsor is out there for you!