Being able to land a sponsor requires more than having a strong foundation. Taking a passive approach to event sponsorship will usually lead to heartbreak as you realize that no one is coming your way.
Having the initiative to take action is a sought after trait in the business world and the same applies here. Being the one to actively approach sponsors where they will see your message is invaluable.
Here are 5 more tips that you can use to land your next sponsor.
1. Be passionate about your event
This might seem like a no brainer and to some degree it is. If you aren’t passionate about your event, it’s unlikely that you are going to find the right sponsor. That’s because finding a sponsor takes time and effort.
Tasks become chores when there is no passion. Not to mention that being consistent with a task that feels like a chore is difficult to begin with.
Before you begin looking for a sponsor, first ask yourself if you are truly passionate about your event. I have seen many events where the host was excited and raring to go. Only for the event to have very little to no planning or forethought.
Your event will ultimately reflect your ability to market to your audience and deliver the experience that they are looking for. Sponsors will be able to tell by your tone of voice, audience knowledge and approach whether or not you are excited and passionate about the event you are going to deliver.
They will likely refuse your proposal if they think something is off.
If you feel the passion isn’t there but should be, perhaps spend some time looking at how you have structured your event. Sometimes all that is needed is a small shift in focus, outcome or purpose to bring that passion back.
2. Research into prospective sponsors
Finding it difficult to find sponsors? One of the biggest problems my trainees have faced is simply finding the right brands.
A lot of that comes from understanding your event and from knowing what those sponsors would find appealing. It is not uncommon for hosts to gravitate to well-known brands and ignore the smaller, more niche companies and brands.
Unless you are looking at getting substantial funding, a smaller sponsor could facilitate exactly what you need. Shutting out opportunities due to company size could be detrimental in the future.
It is not uncommon for us to gravitate towards large brands and/or companies. It stands to reason that the larger the company, the more they can offer, right? Yet, perhaps there is room in the budget for support from a smaller company. You could be the opportunity a smaller company is looking for and the same works in reverse.
When it comes to sponsored-events, the best practice is cooperation. Regardless of the company’s size, they will want to help your event succeed and will be focused on seeing those results.
Audience focus, engagement and community opportunity will take center stage in their decision making. An opportunity to market to a new audience, get more opt-ins and build their list or even build a relationship with you could be a lucrative benefit for them.
Understanding what your sponsor’s value is the first step, however, the most important part is your ability to do your due diligence when researching.
Do you look for a few sponsors and contact them all? Or do you compile them all into a master list and continue to look for more to add?
It’s a gut wrenching feeling when you message the 5 sponsors you had hoped would support you only for them to decline. Now consider they were the first 5 out of the 30 sponsors you have written down.
Suddenly it’s less of a problem, right?
A big pitfall you can fall into is believing that the sponsor you want will say yes. I always have the mindset that I’ll need to find another sponsor. Why?
You take more action when things aren’t certain. More action usually equals more opportunities.
3. Contact sponsors on their preferred platform
You can only land sponsors through email… right?
Well, not exactly.
Think of it similar to networking. You never know when you might meet someone from a company that is a perfect fit for your event.
You can use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin to contact sponsorship and marketing professionals & promote your event to those in your audience. If you aren’t marketing your event on social media at the moment, unless it’s a private event, I recommend you do.
Your ability to reach others increases dramatically when you do so. Like all social media marketing, you never know who is going to stumble on your posts.
If you are sharing relevant content to your event, it’s possible that someone with decision-making authority could see your event and become interested. You also have the ability to communicate with potential sponsors via their profiles.
Already have your list of suitable sponsors? Great! You can search them up on your social platform of choice and see what content they’re posting. From there, you can interact with their posts.
How does this help?
Cold pitching a company can be awkward. Especially when you’re asking them for money or resources. How can we make that easier? By getting in front of them first!
Communicating with people from these companies on social media can drastically alter how you approach them in the future. If you know someone by name, you can address them in your pitch.
Alternatively, you may even begin talking directly on social and building rapport there. It stands to reason that sponsors are looking to place their support in someone they trust. Not only that, but they have to trust your ability to run an event and succeed on the deliverables put in place.
Building that relationship from a cold email can take time. Perhaps your event is coming sooner, rather than later. In these circumstances, channels like email might add more time to the proposal process. Whereas being able to talk directly to someone from the company usually sees a quicker response and will help you build those important relationships faster.
4. Submit your proposal to the right person
Following up, make sure you send your proposal to the right person.
With the use of social media, you should be able to scout out members of the company. You can do this via LinkedIn’s company search and looking at those that work there. Alternatively, you can visit the companies about page (or team page) and find more information about their team.
This task might be more difficult if you are targeting a larger brand. If you are able, consider searching for a specific branch closer to where your event will be held.
But why does it matter who we submit the proposal to?
Well, consider these two scenarios:
You submit your proposal to the company’s standard contact email. The proposal goes through to a member of their admin team that knows nothing about event sponsorships or the impact it can have. To them, it seems like you’re trying to pitch the company.
You submit your proposal to their head of marketing, head of events or another relevant role. They see the email and get curious about your event and how it could benefit them.
From the two, which do you think has a better chance of success?
Number 2, right?
Always try to contact the right person where possible. This is where your research and social presence (why social presence?) truly comes in handy.
5. Understanding the sponsor gain
To wrap things up we must understand what the sponsor gains.
Your sponsor must make a positive (tangible or intangible) gain on the sponsorship fee. Realistically, no one wants to support an event to come out in the negative. There are occasions where a loss is ignored for long term gain. For example, if a business is shifting from an offline business to an online business, they may want to get rid of their brick and mortar customers.
Your event could give them the opportunity to do so.
Sponsors will pay close attention to their gain, i.e., return on investment (ROI), return on objective (ROO), and profit. They will want to know what they will gain for supporting you and your event. If you don’t have a metric in place to prove the gain, they may quickly decline your proposal.
It’s crucial to understand that success does not necessarily mean that the sponsor made money.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say your sponsor was focused on boosting their subscriptions. They agreed on an expected outcome of signing up 20,000 subscribers. After the event finished, the end result fell short by 10%. However, it returned almost double of what they invested.
From a monetary perspective, the event was a huge success. But to the sponsor, it was unsuccessful.
What you value from an event may not be what your sponsor values. As such, ensuring you are both in complete agreement as to what the end outcome should be is crucial.
How do you put this in action?
Unfortunately, knowing is only half the battle.
To increase the chances of landing that perfect sponsor, you will need to put these tips into action each and every time. Being consistent on social media, with your research and pitching sponsors should be your priority. Continuously showing up will put you ahead of anyone else looking to find sponsors for themselves.
But what do you do if things simply aren’t working?
I know first hand just how frustrating that can be. That’s why I’ve put my new book on a special offer. It can help you learn everything you need to and enable you to find and pitch that perfect sponsor successfully.
Roberta Vigilance is the author of How To Secure Sponsors Successfully and has an extensive background in B2C and B2B sales. In 1999, Roberta established Vigilance Style & Grace, an event planning company that educated and networked talents entering the entertainment industry. Self-taught in planning sponsored-events and securing sponsors, Roberta learned the sponsorship language and sold her events to sponsors which saved her business and events hundreds of thousands of dollars. Roberta converts unsuccessful sponsorships to successful sponsorships for clients and teaches professionals new to event sponsorship how to secure sponsors. Enroll in Roberta’s sponsorship training course.