Sarah Halfpenny Events

Event Sponsorship – Looking beyond the transaction

by Sarah Halfpenny

It’s no secret that many events benefit from having a sponsor on board. A well-managed event sponsorship agreement can certainly provide financial reward, accelerate delegate sales and help promote your event and brand to new audiences. From a sponsor’s perspective, they are placing their brand, product or service in front of your audience. They will pay for this access and opportunity to promote or sell their latest offering to these potential new prospects.

Seeking a successful event sponsorship agreement is more than just a simple transaction though. I believe It should go beyond the sponsorship package, the ‘what the event can offer’ and ‘what the sponsor can afford’.
In this blog, I share my thoughts on how you can find the perfect sponsor for your event. Plus, how you go beyond the ‘transaction’ to build a meaningful partnership which will assist business growth and development.

1. Create your Sponsorship proposal. In this document, you should include clear and concise information about the event, including objectives, audience profile and format. A little bit about your company, what you can offer and the benefits and value-add to the sponsor.

2. At the same time, you could start to create your wish-list of sponsors. These are the companies’, businesses and associations who align with your mission, vision and values and who may wish to connect with your audience.

3. Do some research. This can be done through undertaking some desk top research, or going out to other events, trade shows and business networking. You will soon build up a clear picture of those who may be interested in your proposal.

4. See if your current business connections can make any recommendations or even help to make an initial introduction. A warm lead or recommendation will most certainly help you to fast track your proposal to the key decision makers.

5. Shortlist 10 companies to approach. Don’t overwhelm yourself, make it manageable. If you have been thorough with your research, you should be confident in those you have shortlisted.

6. Send the proposal. Email and/or by post. In-fact in this digital age, I believe the latter provides more impact.

7. Track your communication with each potential sponsor. Record your communications, the name of the contact, responses, questions and any relevant details. Even with 10 companies, believe me, if you don’t keep abreast of responses, your sponsorship pipeline can easily become confused.

8. Follow up with a personal call. You are more likely to get a face to face meeting if you engage with them and build a rapport over the phone.  

9. Make sure you meet the decision maker. Ensure you pitch your sponsorship proposal to those who have the power to make a decision, are the budget holder or who have influence.

10. Be flexible. Ask them what they would like from any potential partnership. Be open to new ideas and create a bespoke sponsorship proposal that meets their business objectives.

11. Make sure you are aligned and have a clear vision of what the partnership is and could be.

12. Establish measures of success. This could be anything from an increase in the number of visits to the company website, increased reach through social media channels or distribution of company literature.

Once you have a sponsor on-board, the ‘package’ agreed and the initial transaction has taken pace, your attention should turn to fostering a great working relationship. My top 10 tips for this include:

1. Develop the relationship. Get to know your main contacts both on a professional and personal level. Celebrate their successes, interact with their social media content, connect them to your business contacts. Go beyond the normal event sponsor relationship, make every interaction count.

2. Keep them informed of event progress. This could include confirmed speakers, new sponsors, delegate numbers to press coverage and social media reach.

3. Provide them with relevant and practical details to enable them to plan their time at the event. This could include room layouts, loading and unloading info and courier details.

4. Create a schedule for them so they know what they are doing and when!

5. Honour agreement. Ensure that all the items listed within the sponsorship agreement, such as placement of sponsors logos on website etc. are completed on time and to a high standard.

6. Offer additional opportunities such as an interview, photo or 1-2-1 meeting with a key influencer. They will certainly appreciate your willingness to support beyond the agreed ‘package’.

7. Look after them on-site. Ensure the sponsors personnel have everything they need, offer both refreshments and assistance.

8. Thank them! Obvious really.

9. Offer a Sponsorship debrief meeting to review the agreement, the event and assess measures of success.

10. Keep them informed of future collaboration opportunities. Perhaps even give them first refusal to get involved in the next event giving them a competitive advantage.

So, there you have it, my thoughts on how you can find the perfect sponsor for your event. Plus, how you go beyond the ‘transaction’ to build a meaningful partnership.

For me the key is to remember that seeking event sponsorship should not be an afterthought. It should form an integral part of the event management process and in turn due attention should be paid to research, proposal writing and relationship management.

If done successfully, you will not only form a loyal and supportive working partnership, but you would have recruited an ambassador, a champion and advocate of your business which will no doubt, in time, aid your businesses growth and development.