To say that meetings, conventions, and other events can be a pricey affair is an immense understatement. This is why event hosts hire a convention planner to help them hash out the details, including finding suitable sponsors for events.
The difficulty lies in convincing sponsors that they’re going to get something in return for the dough they’re ponying up. You can address this to some degree with promises of promotion, such as shout outs and branding opportunities throughout the event space and event activities.
However, you and your event organizer also need to pull off engaging, memorable events that keep attendees and the media talking about you and your sponsors. Of course, the first step is drumming up interest from companies that could be the perfect match for event sponsorship. Here are a few steps to put you on the right path.
If your own network of contacts has run dry, it’s time to turn to your event organizer in search of new avenues of exploration. A professional event management company works on events for a wide array of clients, and they likely work with tons of corporate sponsors in the process.
Even if they won’t give you a peek in their little black book, so to speak, they might be willing to reach out to potential sponsors in their network that they think would be a good fit with your brand or your event. The worst that can happen is you get a no, but this could improve your chances of meeting suitable sponsors.
Most business sponsors invest in events for a couple of reasons. The first is usually the chance to promote their company to a new segment of the consumer market in the hopes of raising brand awareness and encouraging patronage. However, they might also be interested in supporting certain types of events, such as charitable endeavors that mesh with their ideals and help to elevate their standing in the public eye.
For this reason, attending similar events might allow you to arrange meet-and-greet opportunities with business sponsors that could be a good fit for your upcoming event. Your convention planner should be able to help you scout events that are similar to your own and seek out potential sponsorship by attending.
In most cases, you’re not going to get something for nothing. Even charitable sponsors will want some form of recognition for the money they donate to a cause. That’s just good business. If nobody hears about it, it never happened.
If you’re having trouble finding sponsors for your event, consider working with your convention planner on unique cross-promotional opportunities so sponsors can get more bang for their buck, so to speak. If you get creative, both brands can see an uptick in interest, reach out to a new audience, and still spend less than they might on singular promotions.
These days, connecting with the right people is often done through targeted online networking platforms. When it comes to seeking event sponsors, your event organizer can probably help you to utilize established platforms like SponsorPitch, Sponseasy, or SponsorMyEvent, or they may have some knowledge of emerging platforms that could deliver results.
Seeking sponsorship is about selling your event. This means you first need to understand exactly what you’re selling. Are you able to connect sponsors with an audience that would be interested in their brand, but that they don’t necessarily have access to otherwise? What sort of access are you offering?
What does sponsorship buy? Is it merely placement of logos throughout your event or will sponsors receive prime floor space in an exhibit hall and opportunities to interact with the audience directly? Will their employees get passes and access at your event? Further, what are the anticipated returns? What data can you show to prove past event success and ROI for previous sponsors?
According to Aurelio De Mendoza, Senior VP – Marketing & Strategic Alliances at AMI, “The importance of networking cannot be overstated when it comes to finding suitable sponsors for your events. Whether you’re reaching out through social media connections or asking your convention planner to cough up a contact list of known sponsors, you need to work every angle and leave no stone unturned.”
Sponsorships should not be a one-and-done proposition. If you’re going to bother with networking to get businesses interested in sponsoring events, make sure you take the time to build and maintain relationships. If you host successful events, promote your sponsors appropriately, and deliver returns, you’ll gain allies that you can more easily tap to sponsor future events.