Have you ever been at an event, going over the logos on the promotional merchandise, and thought to yourself “Why is that brand sponsoring this of all things?”
Getting not just sponsors but the right sponsors is important if you’re planning an event. The right choice will not only benefit you, but also a partner. That’s why when you’re approaching potential patrons you really have to do your homework and figure out not only what you need from them, but also what you can offer.
Below, you’ll find seven tips on how to get the right sponsor for your event:
1 – Data, data, data!
My name is Jessica, which you would think would be a fairly easy name to remember. But I get all kinds of stuff addressed to Jennifer. This has happened to you too, right? How inclined would you be to do a favour for someone who can’t even be bothered to get your name right?
- If you mess up their name or misspell it because you couldn’t be bothered to double-check their name on their website or LinkedIn profile, they definitely won’t have the best impression of you right from the start
- If you do something on top of that like send them a formulaic e-mail or just shoot something off without having done any research about their company and what they stand for, you’ve probably lost any chance of having this sponsor work with you
A sponsor wants to feel that you get what their business is all about. With so much information available online, there are no excuses for messing the basics up.
2 – Think about what they’ll get out of it
Another thing the sponsor wants to feel? That you can realistically both benefit from their sponsorship. This means you have to do some more research to understand how both parties can gain from the deal. Not everyone is interested in money, some things you could offer are:
- Access to a new customer base
- Free products
- Free tickets for the event
- Mentions on Social Media
You should be in a similar business or at least be logically linked. Not every brand is a good match for every event, and vice versa. You’ll be more successful if you pinpoint the ones who are aligned with your event and brand values versus just e-mailing every company under the sun you can find.
3 – Network
There probably aren’t too many people who would say they love networking (and fewer still who could say it honestly). But it’s a necessary evil – though it really doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as you might expect. If you have something genuinely good to offer potential sponsors (see above step), then it really is quite straightforward.
These are your existing contacts — the ones that may have an interest in supporting your business and achieving a joint gain. Let’s say you’re a school or college and looking for clothing sponsors.
- Could a supplier pay for the clothing in exchange for having their logo printed on it?
- Get in touch with your existing contacts and reach out to some new ones, too
- Would any of your suppliers be willing sponsors?
- Are you going to attend any events where you could propose a mutual business relationship?
4 – Reach out on social media
Some of you may have read our last point and thought “But I don’t have any contacts like that!” That’s OK — social media gives you a great opportunity to get in touch with people you don’t know. If you do the legwork and find those companies who are a really perfect match for your event, then start reaching out to them on social media before you send them a pitch.
Don’t just follow them and sit back; instead, participate in conversations they have and like and comment on their stuff. If you do it consistently for a bit, they’ll probably take notice and feel like you appreciate their brand. And you can benefit by getting a masterclass in what their company all about. Both of these things will help you make an even better case later on down the line when you do pitch them.
5 – Think big
Your business is never too small to look for sponsorship. Remember that the sponsor also benefits from getting advertising space on your website, blog, press ad or poster.
But do be aware of the size of the company you’re asking for sponsorship from and be realistic. For large companies, £1,000 may be nothing as many marketing managers have very large budgets. As a small business, if you secure £1,000 from 10 suppliers you have achieved an amount that will give you some serious advertising spending.
Another trick is to ask for a staggered programme of sponsorship, rather than a one -off amount. Many companies can only release marketing and sponsorship funds monthly, so a regular programme of funding may be more attractive to them.
6 – Talk to the right person
Find out who is responsible for sponsorship budgets. If you can avoid it, don’t just send an email asking for money. This doesn’t have to involve travelling or a major time investment; a quick Skype meeting can work wonders.
If you don’t know who to approach, start with the marketing department. These are the guys with the budgets who understand how joint promotion works. You may then get passed along to brand management, public relations or advertising. The important thing is once you’ve got the right contact, keep in touch and always follow up on everything. If you can e-mail back right away, even better!
7 – Be brief and clear
When you have your meeting with the right person (a.k.a. the one who holds the purse strings!) make sure your presentation is interesting, clear and really shows how the sponsor will benefit. Don’t waffle! Everyone is busy so make your request for sponsorship brief. A potential sponsor will definitely prefer an informative half hour meeting than a two-hour presentation that bores the socks off them.
It’s also important to be honest when asking for sponsorship. If a sponsor asks you a question you can’t answer, tell the truth and explain you need to find out the response from the finance department, CEO or whoever. Then, make sure you follow up with the answer as soon as possible.
Business sponsorship is a really handy tool fund your event and help it grow, so it’s essential you create the right impression right from the beginning. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to finding the sponsor who’s just the right partner for you. Sponsorship can take your business and your events to the next level, so it’s important to include it as part of your strategy.
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