“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” Booker T. Washington, the author of this quote, would have made one heck of an event organizer. Indeed, sponsorships enrich the experience of the audience and lift the brand value of both the host and the sponsor. If you’re smart about it. Taking on any sponsor that will have you is not a good strategy. In this article, we help you find the right sponsors and share useful tips on how to negotiate and establish a winning event sponsorship.
- Event sponsorship explained
- Reasons why event sponsorship is a win-win strategy
- Combine different ways to find an event sponsor
- How to pitch your proposal to potential sponsors
- Tips on how to improve event sponsorship packages
Event sponsorship explained
Event sponsorship is a partnership between two brands, in which the sponsor supports the event host in organizing the event or adding value to the event, either financially or via an exchange of products or services.
In exchange, the sponsor enjoys event sponsorship benefits, such as visibility during the event, access to the audience for lead generation, access to participant data, etc. depending on what has been negotiated in the sponsorship agreement.
Reasons why event sponsorship is a win-win strategy
We already touched on this question lightly in the event sponsorship definition above. Event organizers get budget, products, or services, in exchange for visibility, and access to audience and audience data. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the benefits for both the host and sponsor.
Budget (financial sponsorship)
Sponsored budget will help you create a bigger and better event for your audience. On the other hand, it will also enable you to keep admission prices at democratic levels (or how about free admission?), which in turn will draw a bigger audience to the event.
Products or Services (in-kind sponsorship)
Your sponsors can also chip in with other contributions than money. If your sponsor manufactures goods, they may offer some of their products as barter, which you, in turn, can offer your audience as contest prizes or as part of the swag bags. If your sponsor is a service provider, you may be able to offer your participants free trials or free consultations. Your sponsor might also be able to support the event with infrastructure like studios, filming gear, venues, or experiences like virtual reality. Putting free samples in the hands of your audience is obviously a good thing for your sponsor as well.
It’s about who your friends are. Attracting big names in your industry to endorse your event through sponsorship will send a clear message of credibility and authority to your audience, again drawing more registrations. And your sponsors? They can showcase their credibility to your audience without the hassle of organizing the event.
As we mentioned before, event sponsorship enables you to scale your event and draw bigger crowds. This means more opportunities for lead generation, more participant data, more direct engagement, and higher brand exposure, for both you and your sponsors.
But event sponsorships hold benefits for your audience, too, making it a win-win-win situation. Aside from a fuller swag bag and the prospect of winning sponsored games, participants enjoy a richer experience from different brands.
Combine different ways to find an event sponsor
Before discussing how to look for sponsors, let’s first narrow down what you are looking for. Nohar Zmora, VP of Brand Marketing and virtual event expert at Kaltura gives us the long story short, “Your audience needs to be the main factor in your search for sponsors. Reach out to sponsors who can bring added value to your audience, on the one hand. On the other hand, the sponsor also needs to be interested in your target audience. If the brand and your audience are a match, then reach out to them. If not, then walk away and keep looking.”
Ok, so now that you know what you should be looking for, the question begs where to look.
Though sponsors and event organizers are looking for each other, it’s not always that easy to actually find each other. And that’s why we have online marketplaces and proposal builders for sponsorship.
Try the following:
Sponsormyevent – Used by the likes of Forbes and TedX, this marketplace connects sponsors with any kind of event.
Opensponsorship – is the go-to address for sports event organizers.
Fanomena.io – List your event for free and either actively look for sponsors on the marketplace or let them come to you. Fanomena has collaborated with brands like Adidas, Amazon, and Google.
Sponseasy – is not a marketplace, but lets you create online sponsorship proposals in minutes which you can then publish and manage from the platform. Sponseasy integrates very well with all your tools and platforms.
Keep tabs on similar events
Researching related events should be part of your strategy anyway. Check out who is sponsoring other events in your industry and see if they would be a good fit for your event as well. The fact that they already sponsored a similar event means that they reserve a budget for sponsorships and increases the chance that they will be interested in your audience.
Look for brands that share the same values as you.
You can narrow down your long list of potential sponsors to only include brands that share the same values. From eco-friendliness to social causes and animal rights, many companies defend causes that are dear to them. If your company does, too, you might want to narrow down your list of potential sponsors to companies that support the same cause. This will make your event more consistent and interesting to your audience. You could also join forces and have part of the proceeds of your event go to your favorite cause, organize a fundraiser, or create sessions and activities around it.
How to pitch your proposal to potential sponsors
Kaltura’s virtual event expert, Nohar Zmora, chimes in, “You need to assume that your potential sponsor has a few proposals on their desk and they’ll go with the one that will bring them the most value. So, your job is to outdo the competition with an event sponsorship package they can’t refuse. Your sponsor package should focus on the sponsor’s visibility (logo placement, ads, popup notification, …), brand awareness, lead generation, and engagement with participants (virtual sponsor booths with reps available on chat).”
Clarify that your sponsors won’t be treated like a side dish. Suggest additional activities they can participate in (fundraiser for a good cause, contest, marathon, …). Incorporate them into your agenda. Give them speaking opportunities. Sessions are the main draw of your event so offering speaking opportunities to your sponsors is a great idea.
Make it about your sponsor
It’s crucial to research your potential sponsor and understand their perspective and key values. Find out about previous events they sponsored and what the conditions were. See what’s new in the company. Did they launch a new product, or have they made any changes to their brand?
Use this information to create a personalized proposal that underlines their event sponsorship benefits. The trick is to create the right balance of what you’re prepared to offer. You want to create an attractive proposal without overrepresenting the sponsor in the actual event and marketing assets.
Demonstrate value through data
Your sponsor isn’t supporting your event out of a burst of generosity. They have their own marketing goals to attain. Help them make an educated prognosis of what they’ll gain from sponsoring your event.
If this isn’t your first event and you can produce positive performance data of similar past events, then that’s a great place to start. Show the sponsor you are an experienced event organizer and you’ve launched successful events in the past.
As we mentioned earlier, the audience demographics of your event are also an important factor. The sponsor will have no interest in supporting an event for an audience they’re not targeting. So make sure to detail your target audience in your proposal.
Offer tiered sponsor packages
Your proposal should let the sponsors choose between tiered sponsor packages. You could offer silver, gold, and platinum packages which increase the level of exposure, lead generation, and other features, depending on the level of participation of the sponsor.
You could also offer an exclusive events sponsorship package that includes all the features of your top-tier package, plus tailored add-ons to maximize the value of the event for the key sponsor.
Offer a “minimum risk” or “trial” sponsorship solution
Another type of package tier you could offer is the minimum risk package, or trial sponsorship deal. In exchange for a lower sponsored amount, you offer a limited set of perks. You can add a few perks for free to sweeten the deal. This low-risk, low-gain package lowers the bar for new sponsors to try a partnership with your brand.
Prepare yourself for the pitch
Pitching your sponsor is all about personalization, value, and partnership. This means you should propose an event sponsorship deal that answers the specific needs of the sponsor and helps them attain their goals. Don’t make them feel as though they’re merely a piggy bank. Sponsorship is all about working together to create an event that is valuable to the host, the sponsor, and the audience.
Come prepared with all the paperwork: contracts, invoices, and asset lists, … so you can paint the full picture for your sponsor. Also, include any social proof you got from previous partners. Never lose focus of the value for the sponsor, during the pitch meeting. Serve them a big portion of WIIFM.
Send a professional follow-up
Sponsoring an event is not an overnight decision. The sponsor will want to do their due diligence before partnering with you. Reach out to them a couple of times to see if they have any questions and to find out how they feel about your proposal. Do this in a professional manner, by setting milestones for follow-up. Maybe they just need a minor change or addition to feel completely comfortable with the agreement.
Tips on how to improve event sponsorship packages
As mentioned earlier, it’s best to work with multiple packages that all focus on value for your sponsor. Each package should be built around what the sponsor gets:
Presence and exposure
virtual sponsor booths (landing page with a personalized header, welcome video, call-to-actions, lead forms, multimedia assets, …), video conference rooms, chat features, …
Logo placement in key locations of the event page and promotional assets, sponsor promotion kits, lower thirds in videos, sponsor logos on slide decks, email signatures, banners, social posts, blog posts, push notifications, banner ads, pre-event promotion, …
Sponsor sessions, live workshops, discussion panels, …
Lead generation and data
Contact information from participants who visited the sponsor page or session and are opted-in to share information with sponsors, post-event performance reports, …
Contest prizes, sponsored giveaways, ads and discounts, (virtual) swag bags, …
Make sure to clarify how much of each benefit the sponsor will get in each package, where it will be seen, and how much or which part of the audience will be exposed to it (e.g. two push notifications inviting all attendees to visit the sponsor’s virtual booth, one 15-minute pre-recorded session as part of the event agenda, etc.).
You want to create an amazing brand experience for your audience. What else would you organize virtual or hybrid events for? Sponsors can bring in the extra budget, products, or value needed to make your event unforgettable. But sponsors are not merely cash cows. You should find relevant sponsors that elevate the event experience for themselves, the hosting brand, and the audience.
Once you found a suitable sponsor, you need to convince them to participate by showing the value of your event for their brand. And you need to empower them with the choice of how much they’ll invest in your event with tiered sponsor packages that show you understand their needs and treat them as partners.
Once you reel in the right sponsors for your event and your audience, and the partnership is one of mutual benefit, you’ll understand the value of event sponsorship done right.
Lastly, you want to wow your sponsors with an extraordinary virtual event experience that will establish a long-lasting and fruitful partnership that you can call upon for future events. For that, you will need to build and run your event on a robust and engaging all-in-one event platform that has all the virtual event sponsorship features built-in, from a dedicated sponsor space where they can connect with visitors, to powerful analytics for effective follow-up. That platform exists. It’s called Kaltura Virtual Events.