To events, sponsors can be the difference between financial success and failure. Their money helps to cover overheads for venue hire, catering, staff and marketing costs. And while ticket sales may help with balancing the books, the premium on sponsorship packages can represent a critical source of revenue.
If you’re wondering how to find sponsors for your event, you’re in the right place. Here are five tips that should help you identify suitable backers, regardless of the type of event you’re staging.
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Tap into your existing contacts
Some events view sponsors as an untraceable entity. In truth, they can be a lot closer to your organisation than you think.
Here are a few prime examples of companies that might want to sponsor your event:
- Frequent attendees (e.g. booked in for your last three events).
- Clients, partners or customers (mainly a B2B consideration).
- Newly launched businesses/startups looking to boost their profile.
- Larger companies wanting to retain their presence.
Head into your customer relationship management tool (CRM) or address book to see who fits this profile. If you don’t currently have a CRM to enhance your sales, our friends over at G2 have a dedicated section on their website that will take you through the best options.
When searching through your prospects, remember that as long as your event focuses on a topic relevant to their business, they might view it as a handy method of promotion.
How to find sponsors, pro tip: Remember to word your messaging in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re trying to squeeze extra money from your fans. Focus on the opportunity, and stress that it would be great to see them, regardless of whether they’re sponsoring or not.
Use email marketing/automation
If you’re wondering how to find sponsors through advertising, try email for size.
While some events use online display ads on relevant publications and social media to promote their opportunities, we’d recommend a more personalised approach for landing the big sales.
Email marketing is ideal for communicating with prospective backers. And no – you don’t have to spend hours in your inbox. Simply create a list of people you’d like to contact (e.g. frequent attendees, sponsors of other events) and construct a “send to all” message which spells out the nature of the opportunities you have available. You can then use tracking to see who’s opened the message and who hasn’t, before deciding which prospects need to be followed up with a phone call.
For something even more advanced, why not set up an automated message to people downloading free content and resources? This approach is used by industry awards, who will send a callout for sponsors whenever a submission form is downloaded.
How to find sponsors, pro tip: For companies you know will be interested in your top-tier packages, consider a phone call or personalised email as an initial point of communication. These sales are definitely worth the extra effort.
Support facts with figures
The best way to really get a sponsor interested in your event is to lay out what makes it special. In doing so, you have to speak their language and be prepared to share a few numbers. Good stats to reference in your proposal include:
- Number of people attending.
- Proportion of attendees in a decision-making role (ideally C-level).
- Number of current or past sponsors.
- Social media engagement (e.g. use of official hashtag).
- Average number of leads gained by last year’s sponsors.
In most instances, we are putting a figure on the number of people that will come into contact with a brand. Share the data; get the sponsor.
How to find sponsors, pro tip: We shouldn’t even have to say it, but remember to only use figures you can actually back up. You never know who will ask for proof…
Create package tiers
Not everyone has £15,000 to spend on your best opportunity. You have to create different packages to reflect the varying levels of contribution. Otherwise you risk pricing out the smaller fish, and underselling the ones who could have paid more.
Try to come up with at least three levels of agreements, where “bronze” is priced at one third of a top package, the “silver” is two thirds, and the “gold” is the full rate.
How to find sponsors, pro tip: Naturally, your most expensive package is the best to sell. But if you look to inject value at each price point, you’ll be sure to attract a range of backers.
Sell pre and post-event promotion
To get the right opportunities in front of your sponsors, it pays to think outside of the box and the venue entirely.
Don’t forget that most sponsors are looking for a platform to promote themselves. This could be anything – from signage at your event, to a social media post, or even an email.
Newsletters – essentially permission to advertise to a list of relevant people – are a great example of a value-adding extra which can get your sponsors over the line. Look for opportunities on your blog, social media accounts, website and app to supplement your on-site activities.
How to find sponsors, pro tip: You should have an official account manager for each sponsor. Decision makers can be very busy people and may need a few reminders to submit logos for an email, or “that blog” which is now a month overdue. If you’re not proactive in getting sponsors to use their opportunities, they won’t see any reason to reinvest.