Event sponsorship adds a lot to an event, but it also adds complexity. It should be all about you, right? When and why does adding others into the mix benefit you and your event?
Well, depending on the type of partner or sponsor, there are different reasons to consider. Let’s take it step by step.
The Difference Between An Event Partner and Sponsor
In event marketing, a partner is someone who works on the event alongside you. They’re not just hanging a banner or slapping their logo on collateral. A partner is actively working to find attendees and market the event just as much as you are. In short, a partner helps plan the event.
On the other hand, event sponsorship is more hands-off. Sponsors are buying exposure from you and your event. So, it’s your job to plan accordingly to provide that exposure in exchange for the funding you take. To sum up, don’t expect much planning help from sponsors, but you can expect an appreciated paycheck.
When To Bring on Partners
Providing value to your attendees is paramount and should be one of your top priorities as an event planner. If you can add value to the audience and to your event by joining up with others, then go for it.
There’s more to it, but that’s my quick and honest advice. All partner decisions, and indeed sponsorship proposals, begin with understanding your event and audience. If you can understand what your audience expects, you can – and should – partner with others to make those expectations a reality.
When To Bring On Sponsors
This one’s easy. If you need money to fund the event or turn a profit from selling exposure, sponsors are fantastic. Plus, certain sponsors can add credibility to your event and even attract more attendees or reach online.
Finding event sponsorship often means you need to put on your sales cap. The process requires pitching, proposals, contracts, and maybe even serious commitments, so please don’t take it lightly. Sponsors take work, but it’s worth the headache to put more money behind an event.
Keep in mind, all sponsors are taking a financial (and possible reputation) risk regardless of your event. That means being honest about your own limits and only promising what you can deliver. Don’t paint yourself into a corner. Be realistic, always. If possible, I recommend having a lawyer review your contracts!
And just as an aside, event sponsorship means you’ll need to provide some reporting. So take a look at our post on How To Measure Event Marketing Success.
Keep Your Event Theme in Mind For Event Sponsorship
Every event has a theme. Whether it’s a food truck roundup to support local restaurants or an environmental awards gala, each event has an initial idea, a subject, and a focus.
Before you consider any partners or sponsors, think about your theme and your event’s focus. What other businesses fit that theme or complement the subject? No sponsor or partner should clash – or just feel random. They should compliment it. Don’t sell out because your attendees will notice, and that could tarnish your event’s success.
For example, let’s pretend an accounting firm is hosting an educational workshop about tax deductions to attract new clients. They might consider teaming up with a tax attorney and a bookkeeper. In conclusion, partner up with people who share your mission.
Know Your Audience
However, those who share your mission could surprise you. When brainstorming possible partnerships and sponsors, think about your audience. Who else desires the same audience? They might make a smart partner. Even if you don’t exactly fit themes on paper, sharing a common goal or audience works.
Here’s a real-life example from my neighborhood. A coworking space partnered with local bars in a series of free coworking days at different pubs. It was brilliant, here’s why.
The bars got to use their downtime to grow their clientele and get new people in the door. Meanwhile, the coworking space was able to offer a low-risk test to those who weren’t sure about shared workspaces.
In this instance, the incentive to partner came not from a related theme, but rather an intersection in audience profiles. Office workers need a place to work. They also need a place to blow off steam after.
If your customer profile fits another’s, then a partnership might be in the cards. Here are some more examples. Cooking classes could partner with kitchen tools and specialty food markets. Labor lawyers might work with safety equipment brands. Real estate agents partner with interior designers. There are endless possibilities!
How To Find Event Sponsorship For Your Event
Now that you understand the benefits from partners and sponsors and the types you can attract, there’s one hurdle left. How do you find them?
49% of event planners are struggling to find sponsors for their events, while 22% of event profs found finding sponsorships easier than last year, according to Event Manager Blog. So, you’ll need to get to work early.
Here are some ways to find companies who have a higher likelihood of partnering with you or sponsoring your event:
- Skim the sponsor lists of other local, related events
- Brainstorm what other businesses share your target audience
- Ask past partners or friends for referrals or introductions
- Survey your attendees about what they’re interested in
- Search the neighborhood near your venue for local businesses
With these event sponsorship strategies, create a list of companies you’re going to pitch. Then, create a proposal and share the value proposition of teaming up with you. Next, work the phones, send emails, or slide into some DMs!
Don’t forget to follow up on your first touchpoints. People are busy, so if you don’t get a reply, that doesn’t mean no. As with any sales job, pitching is a hard slog and requires patience and thick skin. Be sure to start early, because it can take time to find the perfect fit. You’ll get some rejections, but with a curated list, you’ll find success!
One last piece of advice: be choosy. A lousy sponsor with a poor reputation or overly-demanding attitude will detract from your event no matter what they pay you. Take time to find the right partners and sponsors and follow your gut!
And keep track of everything with ThymeBase’s event planning software. Trust me, you don’t want to miss any of the event tasks when dealing with sponsors.