Once you’ve perfected your event planning strategy, all that’s left is to source sponsors for the funds you need to actually host the event.
Sponsorships play a key role in events and event promotion strategies. These sponsorships support your organisation’s financial goals and bolster brand awareness. The funding you receive from sponsorships offsets event expenses, like venue rental, and increases your overall return on investment from the event.
Event marketing efforts to engage your prospective attendees should never be ignored, and marketing your business’s sponsorship opportunities is equally important. In this guide, we will cover the following steps your business can take to get sponsors for your next event:
- Review your current supporter base
- Write top-notch sponsorship letters
- Offer co-branded marketing for sponsors
- Steward your sponsors for future engagement
When looking for sponsors, it is important to narrow your search and use specific relationship-building strategies with carefully chosen audiences. Beginning with an analysis of your current supporter base, let’s start with discussing ways to find sponsors.
1. Review your current supporter base
While finding sponsors may seem like a daunting task, there is no need to be intimidated. Once you’ve set the scope and budget and maybe even hired professional essay services to help you with marketing texts, take further action. Begin your search with people you are already familiar with — your current supporters. By analyzing your existing clients first, your organisation can save funds and target the supporters who are most likely to say yes!
Feathr’s digital marketing guide explains that using the detailed information you have about current supporters is key to engaging them with your outreach strategy. You can use this information to “segment your supporters based on their past engagement” and personalise the message they receive.
As you review your current client base to expand your list of event sponsors, use the following strategies to define new segments to reach out to:
- Compile a list of past event sponsors and partners. Begin by looking back to past events your organisation already held. Who were the sponsors and partners for those events? Contacting companies that have already worked with you is a great place to start researching new prospects.
- Search for organisations where many of your supporters work. Next, flag any workplaces where a large portion of your supporters work. With about 75% of Millennials showing a strong preference for companies with social commitments, these businesses could be promising prospective sponsors. You can reach out to the business leadership explaining that they have many employees who support your cause, urging them to strengthen the partnership between their business and yours.
- Find companies whose leadership is already a part of your network. Supporters holding leadership positions provide an avenue to garner company sponsorship. So if you reach into your client base and find these leaders, contact them to offer options to get the company more involved.
2. Write top-notch sponsorship letters
Before sending sponsorship letters, strive to keep in regular contact with your prospective sponsors. By having conversations with the potential sponsor which gauge their interest in supporting your organisation, you can ensure the letter isn’t coming out of the blue. Take notes from your early conversations with prospects, then you can use the information you learn to shape what you say in the letter.
After finding potential sponsors, your next step should be drafting sponsorship letters for prospects. While it can be tough to kick off writing these letters, there are a few best practices you should follow:
- Be specific. Clear communication is key. Let the potential sponsor know exactly what you’re asking from them. Explicitly stating what your organisation is seeking from the sponsorship cuts down on future confusion and miscommunication.
- Reference your organisation’s work. Once you state what you are asking for from the sponsor, tie the ask back to your business’s mission statement. Highlight the specific program, project, or event the sponsor will help support. Explain the impact sponsors can have on these activities and how they relate back to your mission.
- State what you have to offer. Finally, tell the prospective sponsor more about what you have to offer in return for their support. While you should choose sponsors who already want to support your work, offering up co-branded marketing materials and publicity highlights are also important benefits they won’t want to miss out on.
- Encourage active participation. Give sponsors the chance to become active participants in your event. Extend an invitation for the sponsor to attend the event, participate in fun activities, and express their interest in your mission.
At the end of your letter, let the potential sponsor know about the next step they should take. These follow-up actions could include signing up as a sponsor online, calling your organisation to discuss the opportunity further, or replying with an email or letter accepting sponsorship responsibilities. Communicating the next steps streamlines the sponsorship process for the potential sponsor.
3. Offer co-branded marketing for sponsors
In addition to supporting your organisation’s mission, your sponsors have the opportunity to benefit from working with you. Offering co-branded marketing materials and merchandise is a great way to encourage potential sponsors to partner with your organisation. These materials help to promote your organisation, your event, and your sponsors all at once!
These materials are certainly a place to get creative. While there are many different commonplace marketing materials, the sky’s the limit with what your organisation can create for event promotions. These co-branded materials and promotions can include:
- Event fliers featuring the sponsor’s name.
- Co-branded merchandise like t-shirts and mugs.
- Incorporating their logo into digital advertisements.
- Featuring the sponsors on your organisation’s social media pages.
- Hosting a co-branded prize draw with the sponsor.
- Set up exhibitor booths for sponsors to promote.
- Create a workshop that combines the sponsor’s talents with your organisation’s.
- Publicly thanking the sponsors and calling them out by name at your event.
Increased brand awareness and publicity are major benefits of sponsored events for both you and your sponsors, and brand promotion can increase revenue by up to 23%. So promoting these events, expanding your reach, and drawing as many attendees as possible yield the highest benefit. Encouraging your sponsors to promote your event can reach an audience your business may not have accessed before.
Ask your sponsors to share their own co-branded materials or post about the event on social media. According to Feathr’s comprehensive list of sponsorship ideas for your event, “Bundling a series of social media posts into your sponsorship package” can be “a great way to guarantee exposure for sponsors without adding inbox clutter for your viewers.” These kinds of marketing ideas boost attendance at your event, translating to more exposure for both your organisation and sponsor.
4. Steward your sponsors for future engagement
Building relationships with sponsors is the best way to expand your events’ revenue beyond ticket sales and raise funds sustainably over time. When you retain your sponsors over time, you can save on the initial prospecting costs in the future or continue expanding your network for higher future event ROI.
While it’s easy to shift all focus to the event at hand, don’t get tunnel vision. Make sure you are always preparing for future sponsorship opportunities and building your community network by stewarding your sponsors during and after the event.
With 95% of marketers agreeing that in-person events have the power to achieve an organisation’s goals, you’ll want to retain sponsorships. Cultivate strong relationships with your sponsors by letting them know you appreciate and value their support. For example, you can:
- Thank them after the event. Express gratitude to your sponsors, ideally in a variety of ways. While thanking them in person at the event is appreciated, sending a follow-up email or handwritten thank you card is a great way to make a lasting impression.
- Remind them of the publicity they received during your event. Remind your sponsor of the benefits they received from working with your organisation. For example, you might explain that their brand was exposed to 5,000 people if that was your total event attendance.
- Invite them to get involved in other ways. Keep your sponsors up-to-date on your operations outside of events. Invite them to join your email lists and keep them updated on any upcoming events, webinars, or podcast episodes. Keep your sponsors in your network to encourage future sponsorships or relevant cross-marketing opportunities.
Book your Event Venue
Just like with your donors, your relationship with sponsors must be stewarded to increase retention over time. According to Double the Donation’s corporate sponsorship guide, cultivating relationships is one of the most essential parts of building a loyal sponsor base. By treating them like a part of your team or thanking them on your socials, you can keep sponsors for the long haul.
When it comes to hosting events, finding great sponsors is a must-have just like booking a great venue. Start by combing through existing supporters, and then branch out to companies with shared values and similar goals or products. Showing your appreciation for your sponsors promises a long relationship that can aid in your organisation’s growth.
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