You may have read my first blog post on this topic, How to Make it Rain in the Marketing Department: Selling Event Sponsorship for Beginners, which covers the basics for getting a sponsorship program off the ground. Now you might be asking yourself how do I really make event sponsorship hum? Maybe you want to take your event strategy to a new level in 2015. You want an amazing speaker, a band, an amazing event space, etc…
The good news is that sponsors can help you think about your event budget in a whole new way. Here’s how to structure your sponsorship programs to maximize your success:
1) Create a communication channel
It goes without saying that generating a lot of money from event sponsorship requires reaching out to a big pipeline of partners. But contacting all of these partners via email can be a cumbersome task and it can easily descend into chaos with lost contracts, etc. An easier way to manage outreach is to develop a channel for “many-to-one” communication. For example, you can use a marketing automation solution to do your outreach and nurturing for you. Perhaps you send a dedicated email to communicate sponsorship details via a periodic newsletter. You can also leverage LinkedIn Groups or your internal community platform. It’s important to get a head start on this process because it can be time consuming to set up.
2) Offer a Discount
You might be thinking, “Duh, that’s the oldest trick in the book.” Well, it is. But it’s important not to overlook discounts when it comes to selling event sponsorship. A time-based discount can stimulate early demand, which is necessary for creating a strong wave of participation. It’s important to consider which packages you discount. Generally, you wouldn’t discount the lowest packages because there isn’t a lot of profit to begin with. And you wouldn’t create a standardized discount for the highest packages because negotiations for the price of those packages can be complex. Usually the middle packages generate the most value for you and the partner.
You should also consider how long you give partners to send in the signed agreements before the offer expires. Often, selling event sponsorship can be a lengthy process, as your sponsors need to shift around their budget in order to find the money to invest. The ideal amount of time is ~1 month – any less than that, and you risk losing sponsorship dollars because your partners don’t have enough time to act.
3) Offer a Sweepstakes
Another great way to generate sponsorship is by offering a sweepstakes. A sweepstakes helps generate demand by creating buzz. People are generally excited by the opportunity to get something for free, so it catches people’s attention and stimulates more engagement in the selling process. Consider offering a prize that is related to the sponsorship. For example, you could offer extra full conference passes, access to the VIP areas at the event, etc. Offering a prize that is related to the event has an added benefit: it lets you know which companies are interested in sponsoring, so you can add all of the entries to your outreach list.
4) Offer historical data to show ROI
One of the simplest and most important things you can do for potential sponsors is to provide historical data. Historical data clarifies how you created your projections and establishes credibility. For example, if you’re projecting that your event will be 2K people, an important detail to add is that the previous’ year event had 1,500 and you’re expecting the event to grow 30% based on the increased size of your customer base. A quote from a repeat sponsor would be a more qualitative piece of historical data. If a sponsor is willing to go on record to talk about why they participated at the event multiple times, it sends a strong signal to potential sponsors that your event will generate a positive ROI.
Have you tried any other strategies that have made your sponsorship programs successful? Please share it in the comments section below.