Event Sponsorship: here’s what you need to know
Securing event sponsorship is an effective way of helping to fund an event and enhance the delegates’ learning experience, but according to recent industry research, 89% of event stakeholders say securing sponsors is the biggest challenge they face when organising an event*.
At Bray Leino Events we are often challenged to deliver cost-neutral events which are paid for exclusively through tickets sales and sponsorship alone. Over the last 12 months, our team have helped to secure over £2million in event sponsorship and revenue for our clients.
Indeed, at a recent high-profile event for the technology sector, we successfully exceeded our sponsorship target by 55% in securing sponsors. Event Director Cressida led the team for this event, so we asked her some questions on how to approach event sponsorship like a pro…
Why is securing event sponsorship such a challenge?
It involves not just event planning, but also data analytics, lots of sales and relationship building. This can be tricky, yes, but when done well it can make all the difference to the success of your event and help to amplify its reach and open doors for new opportunities and collaborations.
Where do you start when approaching event sponsorship?
We always start by getting an understanding of the event’s wider strategic values and proposition. What is its purpose and what does it stand for? It’s crucial that as event planners we understand where the event sits within a wider strategic marketing plan and what the wider objectives are. This also helps later down the line when it comes to finding suitable brands and organisations to approach.
How do you identify the right sponsors to approach for an event?
There are no short-cuts when it comes to doing your research and finding sponsors who closely align with your event brand. We look for relevant industry groups and associations, explore the client’s key relationships, and investigate which companies sponsor other events within the industry. Social listening through following industry-specific hashtags and joining industry groups can be another useful way of finding potential sponsors.
Finding brands that complement the event will ensure that the partnership is win/win, but before approaching them, it’s important to get an understanding of their values and goals in order to make a targeted pitch.
What about data?
It’s so important to measure key metrics from previous events so that you can demonstrate to a potential new sponsor what the benefits will be of sponsoring your event. Key metrics include audience demographics (job function, level of seniority etc.), social media engagement, potential reach, time spent by delegates at the sponsors’ event space, number of interactions with the sponsors, business growth directly linked to attending the event and so forth. This data will form part of your proposition when reaching out to potential sponsors.
Any advice for how to build sponsorship packages?
Sponsorship packages could range from the traditional Gold/Silver/Bronze style for smaller events, through to more detailed bespoke packages whereby companies can choose to sponsor different elements of the event, thus giving them a sense of ownership. Prepare to be flexible. Do this with plenty of notice before the event (we usually prepare our sponsorship packages over a year in advance).
If possible, assign a member of your team to manage all sponsorship enquiries, so that everything is followed up in a consistent way, and you start building up contacts and relationships. It is important to carefully manage and control event sponsorship since the overall event objectives cannot be comprised using sponsors.
How do you approach managing the relationship with sponsors?
Like most things in events, sponsorship is all about building strong, long-lasting relationships. This starts with making sure each sponsor is well-looked after and is properly promoted at the event. If possible, give top-level sponsors the opportunity to have input into the event; they are invested in the success of the event so it can be good to use them as a sounding board for new ideas.
We always provide clear guidelines around what is expected from an event sponsor so that they can embrace the wider event messaging and enhance the delegate experience. For example, if CSR is a key theme at the event, then we would make sure that sponsors do not give away coffee in plastic cups, since this would go against the event theme and values.
It’s common for companies to sponsor the same events year after year, so it’s always useful to collect relevant data to show how the event has helped the sponsor. A post-event report showing information about visits sent to their website, ad impressions made through your event app, or leads generated, are all great metrics to keep track of, helping to secure repeat bookings.
If you want to have chat about sponsorship for your next event, simply get in touch with our team.