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How To

Get Sponsorship for Your Event

Securing sponsorship can be a little like appearing on Dragon’s Den. Some potential sponsors will shoot you down in flames and many of your early pitches will be epic fails while others will be much more successful. As long as you learn from those failures and adapt your pitch to the sponsor you’re courting, you should eventually find one that will buy into your idea.

Do all events need a sponsor?

Not all events need sponsors. You may be contacted by a company who wants to hold an employee event or a couple who want a wedding or party planned. You may work with charities who have their own sponsors or other organisations with the resources already in place.

You will undoubtedly come across situations where you have an idea that you simply must see through but lack the finances to do it yourself. It is these times that you will need financial backing from a sponsor.

Learn more about the relationship between event planning and sponsorship in our FREE Event Management Guide

Selecting potential event sponsors

Selecting event sponsors is a little like planning the event itself. You need to take a good look at your target audience and pitch the idea to the right sponsor. A scattergun approach involves a lot of work and a lot of disappointment so targeting your sponsorship companies carefully gives you a higher chance of success.

For example, if you want to hold an experiential event with cutting edge technology, look at lifestyle brands, technology brands, upstart companies and so on. If you’re planning a live comedy event, look at drinks companies, food, corporates aligned with the type of comedy and so on.

Look at the event you’re trying to plan, the audience you’re trying to attract and then look for a sponsorship company that has similar characteristics and who share a similar target audience.

It may also help to look at previous events similar to yours and see who sponsored them. You could add that company to your potential sponsor list or look at similar companies with a similar brand value or presence and pitch to them.

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How to secure a sponsor

Once you have found some potential sponsors, what do you do next? You still have a ton of work to do before you approach that sponsor so let’s tackle that next.

You need to:

  1. Define your sponsorship criteria.
  2. Understand why a company would sponsor an event.
  3. Outline the features and benefits of your event.
  4. Refine your shortlist of potential sponsors.
  5. Use tools to match events with potential sponsors.
  6. Engage with those sponsors.

Define your sponsorship criteria

Having sponsorship criteria in place before your pitch shows that you are serious about delivering, both the event itself and for the sponsor. Event sponsorship is about more than going cap in hand for financial backing in return for profit. It’s a partnership where everyone can benefit.

You want to set sponsorship criteria as early as possible by asking questions such as ‘how does your brand align with this event?’ or ‘how do your core values match the character of the event?’, ‘what are your goals for the event?’, ‘what KPIs do you want to see that define the success of the event?’. These questions and more will help you select a sponsor and help them understand you.

Understand why a company would sponsor an event

Knowing the motivations behind why someone does something is a key task of being able to convince them to do it. In terms of finding an event sponsor, that would be to make a profit, address a particular company need, enhance the brand image, increase visibility of the brand, allow the brand to reach a new or wider audience, collect customer data or something else completely.

This will be difficult to assess before the pitch but having a couple of goals in mind will help you define the features and benefits of the event and assist with objection handling.

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Outline the features and benefits of your event

Once you have even a rough idea of why a potential sponsor might work with you, it will be possible to tweak your pitch to highlight the particular features and benefits that deliver on those motivations.

If your sponsor wants to break into a new market you could highlight the target audience as being part of that market, use participant numbers to bolster that effect, add potential media attention and so on until you have created a compelling case.

Refine your shortlist of potential sponsors

We often find that our initial list of potential sponsors can quickly be reduced once we begin working our way through this list. Once you begin drilling down into brand values, motivations, potential risks and benefits and mutual goals you will likely realise that some of the companies you had initially listed are no longer suitable.

That’s normal and something that happens often. It may mean you go from a list of a dozen sponsorship companies down to a couple. The positives of that are that you can dedicate more time and effort to each pitch. The risks of that are that both companies may say no and you have to start again.

Use tools to match events with potential sponsors

If making appointments and pitching in person isn’t your thing, there are tools out there that can put event planners in touch with potential sponsors. It is not something we would recommend doing on its own but can be valuable as part of a wider strategy for attracting sponsorship.

Those tools include: SponsorMyEvent, SponsorPitch, SponsorPark and Sponseasy.

Engaging with potential sponsors

Once your preparation is complete, it’s time to put it all together in a sponsorship package and reach out to potential sponsors. The sponsorship package should include everything you have learned about the event, sponsor, risks and rewards, features and benefits and the reasons why that individual sponsor should work with you.

It should also include a detailed breakdown of how much money you want, what everything will cost, projections of returns and a list of KPIs you will measure and report on throughout the process.

Then it’s time to approach the company. Email is usual here but if you see the person at an event, approach them and request a meeting. Research who to talk to and a little about them. Mention a recent media story that mentions them if it’s a positive one and outline your pitch. If you know them or know of them mention it.

Use everything you have to get the prospect to open that email. For example, ‘Your name was mentioned at ‘eventname’ and I think you might be perfect for…’ Make it interesting, make it personal and the email should be opened.

The same for the email contents. Keep it brief, make a short request for a meeting and leave the work for that meeting. Mention time if you can, ‘Do you have fifteen minutes spare on Day and Date for a quick meeting to discuss..?’ We are all busy people and if we know a meeting is only going to be short, we are more likely to say yes.

Crafting the initial pitch email is a guide all in itself and something we will have to tackle another time. For now, we think there is more than enough information here to find a sponsor for your next event!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide