Snagging a sponsor can take your event to the next level and create future opportunities for expansion – but many event creators hit a wall when trying to find and nurture potential sponsors. We sat down with Matt Tuffuor, Global Community Marketing Manager at Eventbrite and co-founder of Toasted Life, and Emily Kessler, Partner and Manager at The Big Quiet, for some expert tips.
Does your event need a sponsor?
Depending on the type of event, you’ll probably need a sponsor. First, a sponsor can provide financial support. They can help fund the event and cover expenses such as venue rental, marketing, staffing, and food. Partnering with brands also helps you gain exposure to a wider audience. With a greater buzz, you’ll attract more attendees.
When it comes to sponsors, there are four types:
- Cash sponsorship: A brand provides money to an event creator in exchange for publicity and awareness
- In-kind sponsorship: A brand offers products or services for an event
- Product sponsorship: A business supplies the event with products in exchange for publicity
- Strategic partnership: A brand provides long-term support to an event; this typically involves a partnership agreement
Expert tips for attracting event sponsors
Getting a sponsor can make your event planning process easier, but how do you get one? With the help of Toasted Life and The Big Quiet, we’ve compiled a list of expert tips that’ll allow you to snag sponsors for your event.
Tighten your brand image and make it easy to find
Your potential sponsors will do some digging, so this is the time to make a killer first impression. What advice did Matt Tuffuor at Toasted Life give? “You only get one shot to impress your sponsors, so spend some time cleaning up what you can control online,” he says. Tuffuor suggests doing an online audit of your brand – including Google images and recent press.
Use the power of your network
Before you send out a bat signal for all sponsors, check with your personal and professional network. Emily Kessler from The Big Quiet taps into her own social circle when looking for sponsors. “I think having personal contacts and relationships is really important, as many companies have lots of levels to get to a decision-maker,” she says.
Believe in what you’re offering
The more passion you pour into your event or cause, the more sponsors will want to get on board. Take some time to figure out your “why”. Once you flesh out the purpose, you’ll be able to communicate the benefits of your event to sponsors.
Check out who’s sponsoring what
Take a peek at your competition and see who’s sponsoring them. Targeting these brands is a no-brainer because they are already interested in supporting similar events. Another benefit? “These sponsors may also have clearer objectives and learnings that can be leveraged by you,” Tuffuor says.
Spend time on your event listings
Your event listing is your chance to sell your event to attendees and sponsors. Ensure you include as much information as possible and follow event listing best practices. This could mean adding high-quality photos, videos, and a catchy event description. Ensure the tone of your listing aligns with the brand voice of the sponsors you want to attract.
Nailing your sponsorship proposals
Writing event sponsorship proposals can be a make-or-break opportunity. Make your proposal compelling and persuasive, and communicate the value of your event to sponsors. Don’t know where to start? These tips can help.
Create customised decks
Create a sponsorship proposal tailored to each potential sponsor. Your proposal should outline your event – in relation to them and their values. To drive home the message, include how your event will help support their brand. Don’t forget to include your history, like key performance indicators and testimonials.
Consider an advisory board
Add some muscle power with an advisory board. This strengthens your credibility with potential sponsors and shows you mean business. If you don’t have the personnel on your existing team, no problem. Tuffuor says that surrounding yourself with expert advisors is enough to impress sponsors and make them want a piece of the action.
Improving your sponsorship packages and benefits
To reel in sponsors, you have to make the offer juicy. Below are a few ways to sweeten the deal.
Don’t just chase money
Sponsors can offer more than financing. In-kind sponsorship is just as valuable and can help your event run smoothly. For instance, giving away sponsored products at your event could help drive attendance and give you more leverage when setting ticket prices.
Get creative with your marketing real estate
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when displaying your sponsor’s logo. What’s the most unique tactic Tuffuor has witnessed? “I’ve even seen bars etch […] ice cubes in attendees’ cups with sponsors’ logos,” he says. There’s no limit to the brand activations you can use at your event.
What should you offer your event sponsors?
Sponsors want to know what’s in it for them. Offer potential sponsors exposure to a wide audience, including advertising space or product placement. Or, offer sponsors the chance to generate leads and customers by providing exclusive discounts on products and services.
Whatever your offer, it must be something your potential sponsor can’t resist. For more ways to appeal to sponsors, check out our guide for spotlighting sponsorships.
Sponsors love registration data
More tangible things like attendee demographics and engagement metrics are enticing offers for sponsors. With Eventbrite, you can collect as much data from customers as possible. For instance, if you’ve secured a sponsorship with a watch brand, you can add customised checkout questions like “Are you in the market for a new watch?”
Making contact with event sponsors
You’ve identified potential sponsors and laid out the benefits your event can bring them – but how can you get in contact? Below are tips to help to reach out to sponsors and make an excellent first impression.
Patience is key
Getting sponsorships can take time. Your potential partners need to evaluate the value of your offer and make a decision. They may need to secure a budget and get internal approval. We recommend reaching out to potential sponsors as early as possible – ideally 6-12 months before your event.
Scour LinkedIn for titles such as Sponsorship Manager, Brand Manager, or Regional Marketing Manager. Try to get into the right inbox, but don’t lose hope if you don’t get a response. Once you’ve scored the right contact, send personalised sponsorship emails to grab their attention.
Research your recipient
So that your message stands out, do some research and customise your message. Avoid stock phrases like “hope you’re doing well” as this can seem insincere. Instead, include a sentence or two that shows you’re familiar with the recipient’s company or role. For inspiration, check out these 8 email templates for event sponsorships.
Choosing your sponsors
The right sponsor can make all the difference for your event. Here are a few ways to narrow down your choices and find the perfect match.
Align in authentic values
You want to choose a sponsor that has similar values to your event. This creates a more genuine experience for attendees, increases brand loyalty, forms lasting partnerships, and ensures the sponsor’s message resonates. It will also help your vision come to fruition. “Don’t let the sponsor derail your plans or change the vision for your experience just because they have funding that you may need,” advises Tuffuor.
Kessler encourages creators to align with brands that support their purpose. She says, “We like to work with brands that feel really authentic to who we are and what we do.”
What questions should you ask a sponsor?
Here are a few questions to help you find the ideal sponsor:
- What audience is the sponsor hoping to reach?
- What kind of visibility/branding can the sponsor expect?
- How much funding or in-kind support is the sponsor offering? Are there any restrictions on the use of the funds or in-kind support?
- How much autonomy will the event organisers have in terms of planning and execution of the event?
Securing sponsorship for an event
After you’ve found your perfect match, it’s time to iron out the logistics. Here’s what you need to do to secure the sponsor for your event.
Draft professional contracts
A well-drafted sponsorship contract can help prevent misunderstandings or disputes that may arise during the event planning and execution process. It also helps to have a special termination clause as a comfort for your sponsor. “Relying on a standard force majeure or termination clause may not be sufficient in this new climate, especially after a lot of sponsors may have gotten burnt from event cancellations in 2020,” says Tuffuor.
Make sure you have the right materials
Ask for specific brand guidelines on how to use their logos. For example, some alcohol brands may have strict guidelines on where their logo can be placed.
Pro tip: Avoid pulling logos from the internet, which may be a lower resolution or outdated.
Set up regular meetings with sponsors to share updates as you get closer to the event. This allows everyone to stay informed about the event’s progress and address concerns that may arise.
During a sponsorship meeting, you may discuss:
- The overall progress of the event planning and execution
- Marketing or branding opportunities available to the sponsor
- Updates on attendance and ticket sales
Event sponsorship tips for after the event
After you’ve organised a successful event, it’s time to reflect and check in with your sponsors. But what ground should you cover? Below are some things to gather when you meet with sponsors post-event.
Prove that you’ve met your goals
Recap, debrief, and share important stats that show you delivered their return on investment. Below are a few ways you can measure the success of a sponsorship:
- Impressions: Knowing the number of impressions helps sponsors gauge brand awareness. The more coverage your event had, the more people were exposed to your sponsor’s brand.
- Feedback: Gather feedback from attendees and pay attention to what they say about the brand activations from your event.
- Social media interactions: This shows how your audience responded to your event and the sponsor’s brand.
Track these brand activation metrics using various tactics, including radio frequency wristbands, social media interactions, event apps, and surveys.
Set yourself up for success
Finding a sponsor doesn’t have to be complicated. Eventbrite has everything you need to create the best event sponsorship strategy. Ready to host a sponsored event for the ages? Start with a listing.