How do you attract sponsors looking for the perfect event sponsorship opportunity?
Your event needs to offer what potential sponsors are looking for, and come up with groundbreaking and worthwhile event sponsorship packages to attract more sponsorship revenue.
You have one chance to impress. Seize the day and get more event sponsors signed up.
All event planners know how critical event sponsorship is to your event’s success. With strong sponsorships, you can accomplish much more than your original budget allows.
But often it can seem that finding the right event sponsors, achieving the revenue you hope for and designing a sponsorship offering that will have them signing up and coming back again and again can be challenging or downright impossible.
You know your event is awesome, right, so how can you get sponsors to listen, understand and invest?
If you keep hearing “NO” and haven’t reached your sponsorship targets it can be disheartening and frustrating.
What are you doing wrong?
(HINT: possibly lots of things, which will be revealed in this post)
There is an easier way, dear event planners.
It is possible to turn the rejections around and find sponsors that say “YES!”
Read on to find a proven action plan for increasing your event sponsorship success:
- Research: The State of Event Sponsorship in 2018
- Chapter 1: The First Steps To Securing Event Sponsorship Deals (steal the blueprint experienced eventprofs follow)
- Chapter 2: Keep Up! What Should Your 2018 Event Sponsorship Offering Consist Of?
- Chapter 3: Understand the 8 Real Reasons Driving Event Sponsorship (and lock down more revenue)
- Chapter 4: Take the Next Step: How To Approach Event Sponsors and Get Them To Sign On The Dotted Line
- Chapter 5: 8 Secrets to Unlocking Even More Event Sponsorship Money
- Chapter 6: Specific Tactics to Get Your Recurring Event Revenue Rocketing
- Chapter 7: 50+ Awesome Event Sponsorship Ideas (guaranteed to get more sponsors on board)
- Chapter 8: 10 Event Sponsorship Case Studies All Event Planners Can Learn From (best practice for your events)
While it requires creativity, successful event sponsorship is also all about the data analysis, understanding sponsors’ needs, and establishing a return on investment (ROI). In this step-by-step plan, we’ll help you with all of that and more.
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In January 2018, we conducted one of the largest pieces of event planning research ever completed, with 2,400 contacts and over 1,000 respondents.
Within the survey, we asked specific questions relating to event sponsorship. We are happy to release the results below.
If you would like a copy of this research for publishing purposes, you can request it here: State of the Event Industry Research 2018
Finding Sponsors is a Big Challenge for Eventprofs
When we asked eventprofs about their biggest challenges this year, finding sponsors was the second most popular response, agreed by almost half (49%) of respondents.
Securing Sponsors is a Struggle for Events
The concern over finding sponsors is likely due to the difficulty in securing sponsorship faced by events. A majority of event professionals (53%) agreed that finding sponsors for events is a struggle. Less than a quarter (22%) said that they weren’t struggling to secure sponsors.
Sponsor Retention Rates are Also Slipping
A large majority (74%) feel that sponsor retention rates have stayed about the same but 17% say they are decreasing; with only 10% reporting an increase. This is a concern.
Measuring Success With Sponsorship
Of those surveyed, almost half (42%) said that sponsor satisfaction was used as a measure of success. Sponsorship revenue was also an important factor for around a third (32%) of eventprofs.
Could Event Apps Hold the Key to Event Sponsorship?
When we asked our audience about the features they seek in event apps, almost half (44%) said they were looking for sponsorship opportunities.
If you would like a copy of this research for publishing you can request it here: State of the Event Industry Research 2018.
The First Steps To Securing Event Sponsorship Deals (steal the blueprint experienced eventprofs follow)
So how do you get a sponsor for an event? A great pace to start is by reading this post and following the guidance from event planners that have been successful in attracting sponsorship investment into their events. Whether you are an experienced event planner or whether this is the first time you have tried to secure sponsorship, we share lots of tips and tactics and mistakes to avoid. No one said that meeting your sponsorship goals would be easy. It needs a well-planned and thoughtful approach for the best chance of success.
The seven steps and suggested action points in this section outlines the essential preparation you need to do well in advance of picking up the phone or sending an email to any sponsor. You don’t want to fritter away your one and only shot at conversion so you need to lay the groundwork and get everything in order before you even attempt to make contact.
Pro tip: Many companies have a long lead time in terms of approving sponsorship decisions (over 12 months for some) so the earlier you can start working on these initial steps the great chance you will have of getting sign off.
For the best chance of event sponsorship success, start with these seven steps:
Raise Your Game To Ensure You Are Sponsorship Worthy
How do I attract sponsors to my event?
Events that show authority, independence and freshness will always be sought after for sponsorship.
If you want to know the key of how to get sponsorship money, the paradigm shift here is to swing your event positioning from push to pull. Calling up, chasing, and sending proposals is perfectly acceptable when you are trying to push the idea to your sponsorship audience. The aim, however, is to reach a point where you are being chased, being asked, receiving inquiries about sponsorship opportunities, often referred to as inbound, or pull activities. Then, you are simply harvesting the good results of your amazing event and event content. Brands may run their own events but customers know there will always be a bias or a secondary objective. To set yourself apart, you really have to step up your event content game and be recognized as valuable in the community, which makes your event sought after and almost inevitable as a sponsorship decision.
To set yourself apart, step up your event content game and become recognized as valuable in the community, industry, or the place to be for your target demographic. Become a resource and THE event for your industry or audience.
One of the biggest ways to up your game in the eyes of a sponsor is to harness the opportunities offered by social media to enable spontaneous communities to flourish around your event. Like-minded people are often eager to find the perfect platforms to connect in person. Your event is the perfect opportunity to give them space. Having communities showing up at your event presents incredible sponsorship opportunities. Think about the echo you can have online from individuals who usually connect online every day. How can you offer such opportunity to sponsors? How can you support a community while delivering a strong message?
Raise your event game and capture the attention of sponsors in the following ways:
- Dare to be different. The best way to stand out is to do it your own way. Shake things up and lead in terms of innovation. Break all the rules if it feels right.
- Invest the time and effort in nurturing your community and keeping them engaged all year. There needs to be a good reason to keep your community active and contributing, rather than just trying to build momentum in the lead up to the event. Publish quality materials of value for your audience.
- Use content created by your speakers/presenters and give much of it away for free. Use multiple forms of media: video, meaty articles, sessions that speak to their needs.
- Develop a strong event identity. From your branding, communication style and focus, create something that is recognizable and consistent.
Know Your Audience Profile Inside Out to Harness Big(ger) Bucks
How can you ask a company to invest big money in your event if you cannot succinctly explain who will attend your event? It’s surprising how few event planners truly understand their attendees. Before attempting a sponsorship sales pitch, planners should know specific information about the lifestyle habits of their event attendees. For example, it might be a B2B event, but wouldn’t it be interesting to share with a sponsor what the audience like to do outside of their working hours too? Is health important to them? Are they homeowners? Do they have a family? There are many more products and services consumers will use during their non-work day and this can provide a compelling reason for a sponsor to want to connect with your event.
A savvy sponsor looks less at numbers and more at value when it comes to your attendees. Do you have 20,000 potentials or 500 well-targeted, exact fit to their needs attendees at your event? Most sponsors don’t want 20,000 tire kickers. They want easy conversions, people who will be interested in their product or service and are on the market to buy. It’s up to you to make these introductions and turn your mass traffic into valuable leads for them.
Marketing professionals LOVE such data and are far more comfortable allocating marketing dollars when they know exactly who the promotion will reach.
Get to know your audience better to find a perfect sponsorship match:
- Ask a few questions on the event ticket/registration page, through spot surveys on social media and as part of the event evaluation.
- Seek the opinion and input of your event attendees at every opportunity as this data helps you to get to know your community a lot better.
- When you are building your attendee profile, try to find answers to questions like these:
- Male/female ratio
- Household income
- Education level
- Where they live
- Holiday destinations
- Political ideology
- This critical information you are gathering about your attendees will be vital so that sponsors can decide if it fits their demographic.
Look At Information Right at Your Fingertips to Guide Your New Strategy
If the event has run before you will have a wealth of valuable information that you can use to your advantage. From standard registration data and attendance numbers, through to surveys and sponsorship deals, there is a lot of useful information to crunch. Pay particular attention to exhibitors and attendees that have come to the event previously and that could be a good sponsorship lead for the future.
Several benefits come from working with past sponsors/exhibitors/attendees, including spending less time prospecting and working with someone with whom you already have trust and that already has knowledge of the event and what to expect.
Learn from the past to create better sponsorship deals in the future:
- List every event sponsor you have ever had, what they paid/gave and what they got in return. Identify which sponsors are already on board for the next event, which can probably be tempted back and the sponsors that could be ready for a bigger, or headline, sponsorship deal. It is easier to keep a current/previous sponsor than find new ones each year.
- Note any companies that have had involvement or attended the event in some small way, that could become a potential sponsor. Having first-hand experience can make a sponsorship approach and sell much easier if they liked what they saw.
- Do a focus group or spot survey to find out the brands and products that your event attendees love and add them to your sponsorship ideas hit list.
Brainstorm and Research Prospects to Approach: Your Secret Weapon To Converting More Sponsors
Whether this is an established event or the first time it has run, the chances are that you are keen to secure more sponsors. This means that you need to build a list of well-matched organizations to approach.
What is a sponsor for an event?
There are a few clues that can help you assess the companies that are more likely to listen to your sponsorship approach and those that will be a waste of time.
We recommend starting with at least 100 potential sponsor leads. 100 may sound like a big number, but it is very achievable for almost any event. Only a small fraction of those 100 will convert to actual sponsors, so you need to create a long list as a good starting point. With these lists, you will have more than enough to begin the prospecting process.
It’s clearly much easier to convince a prospect if they are already companies willing to sponsor events and predisposed to buying sponsorships. It is a not a particularly good use of your time to try to convince companies who have never sponsored an event of the benefits of a sponsorship generally.
It is one thing having the ideas but you also need a way to contact them. In most cases, the responsibility of sponsorship activation usually falls to the marketing team. Prospecting to the marketing department is your best bet unless the prospect has a specific sponsorship person or department. LinkedIn is likely to be your top resource finding out who you need to speak to and fleshing out the contact details on the list ready for an approach in the future.
Build your hit list and get off to a flying start:
- Make a list of the top 100 companies willing to sponsor events in cities where your event runs.
- Create a separate list of companies that have products or services your attendees might buy. Be open minded and don’t leave companies off the list because you think they are too big or too small at this point.
- Another place to find helpful information is within event programs. Pick up as many as you find, even if they are not current. For example, if you pick up the program for virtually any trade show or sporting event you will discover it is full of sponsors. Make a spreadsheet of these companies, categorizing them by the products or services they sell. Another excellent source of potential sponsors are the websites for events. Often, the sponsors for these events are listed.
- Don’t forget that your vendors make excellent potential sponsors too. There might be the opportunity for in-kind sponsorship, rather than financial sponsorship.
Understand All The Complexities of Your Event to Get to the Right Place to Sell, Sell, Sell
Take time to review all angles of your event. What are the cornerstones of your event offering, what do you own, which elements give value, what metrics and data do you have, what do you hope to achieve for the next and future events? Understanding the full picture can trigger ideas for sponsorships going forward.
Analyze in terms of past sponsorship deals, how did you perform? Put together evidence of how your event has provided good returns for sponsors, whatever their specific goals were. Pour over event feedback and particularly any feedback from sponsors. Good or bad, use this insight to refine your offering going forward. If you have asked the tough questions, such as, “What didn’t go as well as you had hoped?” or “How could we do better next time?” this will be extremely useful in refining for the future.
Start developing and crystallizing your ideas for sponsorship activations:
- Create sponsorship success stats which can be shared with potential sponsors:
- Total event attendance
- Number of interactions recorded by the sponsor
- Data in terms of attendee behavior, actions and demographics
- Clicks and social media interactions
- Number of leads gathered
- Total sales of related product
- Total number of samples distributed
- If live streamed, how many views
- Measurement of different touchpoints
- Locations of signage and other brand exposure elements
- Feedback received
- An infographic can be an eye-catching way to communicate this important data
- Create a learning document listing the learnings from past sponsorships and share with key members of the event planning team.
Calculate the Value of Your Event Inventory To Make Smarter Deals
Determine your event budget so you know the financial position of your event. Sponsorship can be a way to identify funds and make items on your wish list to happen. For instance, if you want to bring in a top-notch speaker but their fee is out of reach or you want to add a new lounge area to your conference, by identifying the cost and working with a sponsor you can enhance your event and achieve things that would otherwise be impossible. You also know better what is the lowest viable offer you can accept to get a sponsor on board.
Successful events are aware of the worth of their inventory and allocate it knowing exactly the demand levels for each item. Too often, a few sponsors get too much, leaving a little for others. This harms your event because it precludes you from having healthy relationships with more brands willing to engage with your audience.
Plan ahead of time:
- The costs you want to cover under sponsorships. Yes, you’ll customize the opportunities based on the sponsors but flesh out the parts of your budget you want others to cover.
- Balance out opportunities at different levels of sponsorships.
- Plug in your recurring sponsorships and look at what’s left before you think about having conversations with others.
Create a Better Sponsorship Offering. Or Fail. Period.
Innovative sponsorship programs look at the needs of attendees first. They understand the core needs of those attending events and they offer the opportunity to provide solutions to sponsors. How can you solve the issue of attendees waiting in line for hours? Get a sponsor to pay for registration at the airport. How can you solve the issue of attendees walking too much on your trade show floor? Get a sponsor to pay for scooters. How can you make hungry, attendees happy: by offering packed grab-and-go snack packs through a sponsorship. These are incredibly practical ideas that add value to attendees while delivering relevant sponsorship messages.
Design creates a user-friendly experience where attendees, sponsors and all stakeholders get something out of the event. Bad event design can place attendees in a negative mood. This will affect their desire to do business, which will yield a bad sponsor experience. Instead, work with your sponsors to create a better user journey for attendees.
The real question is, can you get sponsors to work with you on creating value? Lounges, games, food… the elements that can deliver a sponsor message are endless. Innovative sponsorship leverages experiences.
Think differently to entice your sponsors:
- Have a team brainstorm to share the zaniest sponsorship opportunities you can think of. The rules are that no ideas are too crazy to put forward.
- Think about any pain points or areas that you want to make changes and improvements at your event to trigger genius sponsorship opportunities that can address them.
- In terms of the traditional sponsorship offerings which have been done a million times before, think about how you could ramp them up into something that becomes more appealing and valuable. Encourage sponsors to host fun lounges at the event. Gamification can be utilized to entice attendees to spend some time with the sponsors. Food puts people in a good mood and provides a needed break and rest. That delight in hospitality will often translate to good feelings about the vendor.
Harness Metrics to Reel In Sponsor Interest (and Fast)
Logo placement, though still appealing to some, definitely does not belong to the sponsorships of the future. Of course, logos on branding are nice to have but that’s all. What sponsors want is solid data. They are after profiles, clicks, leads generated, how many people passed through their stand, how many people hung out around the booth. Do you have the technology in place to provide this data to your attendees? Have you taken advantage of the incredible number of developments in technology to support better event ROI metrics?
As we all know, one of the biggest challenges for any marketing department is being able to justify the “spend.” It’s often difficult to draw a line connecting certain marketing activity to a particular sales result. In such cases, marketing departments have a more difficult time convincing the finance department to approve the campaign. So, if you can show your prospect that your offer will yield “X” dollars, it will be much easier to secure that sponsorship activation.
Metrics say it all. Sponsors want the evidence that their investment paid off.
Understand the data:
- List the data your sponsors are most interested in which could be generated and measured at the event (and how).
- Get up to date with the latest tech tools and intelligence. Have demos, find out the costs involved.
- Explore case studies from other industries and use the learning in your own niche.
- Talk to sponsors to find out what metrics they need and then work backward to figure out how to offer it to them.
- Use technology that can give you real-time results. This is a necessity for today’s marketers/sponsors.
- Tailor your results to what your sponsors are looking for. If their goal was exposure, show them traffic. If their goal was sales conversions, show them appointments scheduled. Don’t pile on all the data you can get. That’s overwhelming. Instead, give them what’s meaningful to achieving their goals.
- Work in advance and use data to “sell” sponsorships for next year before they leave this event. Be ready with information before they leave.
If you have followed the steps outlined above you will now be in a good position of knowledge. We know you are raring to go, but - hold it - there is still more work to be done before you contact any potential event sponsors!
Your thoughts need to focus on: how do you get a company to sponsor you?
Before you send your first email or pick up the phone you need to know what specifically you can and can’t offer to sponsors and what value you expect to receive in return. You will have one chance to convert a potential sponsor so you need to be 100% ready and prepared.
Furthermore, event sponsorship has changed and your sponsors are much savvier than ever before. The way you did things in the past probably doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to up your game to keep in front of the pack.
Traditional sponsorship deals based on logo placement and name drops are no longer sufficient and it is long overdue to shake up the options. The future of event sponsorship requires innovative ideas, strong commitment, accountability and deep knowledge of the new opportunities technology brings.
Banish Bronze, Silver and Gold Event Sponsorship Packages Right Now
The traditional way to offer sponsorship was generally in the form of packages; predefined placements for a predefined price. Gold, Silver, Platinum, became the default way of outlining the cost for each sponsor offering in a one-size-fits-all approach. Obviously, you could add more packages to better accommodate sponsor needs but increasingly that’s unlikely to give you the flexibility your sponsor desires.
There is no value in a standard proposal. Innovative sponsorship programs start with the sponsor in mind, not with the dimensions of your booth or the logo size. Would you discuss the dimensions of your apartment on a first date? Instead, shift your attention to how your event can help sponsors achieve their objectives. That is why collaterals are quite worthless if mass produced. They immediately disengage your audience. They are a generic attempt to just sell. Customization, conversation, and flexibility in inventory make sponsors happy.
Create tantalizing sponsorship opportunities that stimulate the interest of the most demanding brands. A shout out on the main stage often isn’t even heard. Is that the best you can do?
Make sponsors look like heroes:
- Create sponsorship opportunities that can help your help sponsors shine. You want attendees to remember their contributions and not just assume everything is brought to you by the event.
- Align a sponsorship with the mission behind the brand. For instance, Nike has an ad campaign where they have removed the sitting part of city benches and stenciled the word “Run” with the swoosh on the back. This is both memorable and fitting of their active brand. Look for opportunities that fit in that way.
- Investigate what others are saying on social media about your sponsors. It can give some greater insights into what type of sponsorship activation could be right for them.
A New Way To Approach Event Sponsorship That Guarantees Better Conversions
The new way of approaching sponsorship is different. To be truly flexible you need to be able to offer your sponsors a range of ideas that can be shaped to better suit their needs. Many sponsorship professionals validate this approach.
Some sponsors may know you and your audience. They also know what they want. Give them the flexibility to pick and choose what they want (and price it accordingly). A la carte, wins over fixed menus, especially in times of budget cuts. You can always upsell but start by giving them the freedom of choosing what they think works best for them, rather than what you want to sell them. Often they’ll be more enamored of a package they’ve designed and they’ll work harder at making it effective because they had a hand in building it.
Also, create some custom ideas designed specifically to meet their exact needs. You really have to work hard to create appealing sponsorship opportunities that stimulate the appetite of the most hard-to-please brands. Make your inventory creative! Think how you can deliver better experiences by means of more innovative opportunities.
A shout out on the main stage or logo placement on your event collateral is worth zero. Think about that.
Customize your approach:
- Research the mission of the company you’re approaching. What are they looking to do, traditionally and this year? Get your thinking in line with their mission.
- Study their social media streams. What they share is often what they value.
- Talk with them and find out their needs. Then create your offering based on that conversation.
Never Ever Make This BIG Event Sponsorship Mistake
There is one thing you don’t want to do. EVER
Never say, “We can do anything.”
While you may think it sounds accommodating, it can be construed as putting all of the work to design a sponsorship on the person who’s already writing the check, instead of coming up with appealing ideas to inspire them.
It’s important to convey flexibility on sponsorship package design. After all, you may have the occasional sponsor who has very exacting needs or vision for a package. But in most cases, you have the analytics and understanding of your audience and are best placed to offer tempting solutions.
How to get the balance of being accommodating just right:
- Encourage them to make a suggestion to you about what they’d like to do but provide suggestions based on your audience and what’s worked (or hasn’t in the past). For instance, don’t go along with a sponsored video arcade if someone did that last year with less than positive results.
- Allow them to bounce ideas off you so you can get a better idea of what they’re drawn to.
- You want them to use their creativity but ensure they know you are using yours. If they have something in mind, work with them. If they’re stuck, help them out with suggestions based on their needs.
It’s up to you to marry sponsor needs and the needs of your audience. If you can do it successfully, you can build a long-term valuable relationship for all involved, including you.
Why are sponsorship opportunities often so hard to secure?
This is primarily because event planners are often not comfortable with the sponsorship process and finding the right sponsors. Or, often, they fail to understand what the potential sponsor is looking for.
Before you can approach and apply tactics to get more money from your sponsors, it’s critical to understand their reasons behind the sponsorship deal and use it to your advantage.
The True Motivations for Event Sponsorship You Need To Address In Your Sponsorship Approach
To better understand how sponsors think and what they actually want from a sponsorship relationship, let’s look at the specific reasons companies invest in events. Here are the most common:
Motivation #1. To Increase Sales and Market Share
Your sponsor wants to sell their product. Companies who want to sell product at a particular venue will often seek a sponsorship relationship because they can negotiate terms such as exclusivity or guaranteed exposure to the attendee. This is the most important objective for food and beverage sponsors, whose interest in the sponsorship opportunity is to be able to serve or pour product at your event.
Pro tip: pay special attention to whether or not the venue has an exclusive contract with another brand that may prevent the sponsor from serving their product.
Motivation #2. To Increase Awareness with their Target Market
Your sponsor is launching/testing a new product. Companies releasing new products love testing new products at entertainment-related events. Putting products into the hands of thousands of happy event-goers is very appealing to sponsors.
Pro tip: include them in goodie bags, as toys on chairs during sessions, or free samples at the booth.
Motivation #3. To Target a New Customer Group
Your sponsor wants to expand its customer base. One powerful feature of event sponsorship is that event planners understand the demographic and economic makeup of the audience. Think about the difference in the audience makeup between a tennis tournament and a NASCAR race. If your sponsor wants to promote its product to “middle America”, they might choose to partner with NASCAR.
Pro tip: consider your main market and become known for it. Market it accordingly. Eventually sponsors interested in that demographic will come to you.
Motivation #4. To Enhance General Awareness
Your sponsor wants to stay in front of consumers. Due to the hyper-competitive industries they operate in, brands such as Pepsi and Nike sponsor hundreds of different types of events each year. Everything from cricket tournaments to the Super Bowl to local little league baseball games. These brands feel their customers need to be constantly reminded of them.
For most sponsors, the reality is that brand awareness is difficult to measure and therefore often not an important factor. Having said that, explaining to the sponsor that “X” number of attendees will see the sponsor’s signs and message, is always a positive.
Pro tip: show the sponsor historical data such as how a certain attendee demographic will be in attendance, that will resonate even more with the sponsor.
Motivation #5. To Enhance Trade Relations/In-Kind
Your sponsor wants to build relationships. One strategy companies use to break into new markets is building relationships with the community. For example, a dairy company seeking to displace a powerful incumbent brand in Las Vegas recently began sponsoring a wide variety of events, including wine and food festivals. Due to their aggressive approach to building local relationships, the dairy was recently rewarded with a multimillion-dollar contract that had been held by another dairy for decades.
Pro tip: offer the brand a way to get seen doing things like giving back and connecting. Spreading their mission is more important to them than their logo.
Motivation #6. To Alter Public Perception/Re-positioning
Your sponsor’s brand is hurting. An effective method of rehabilitating a struggling brand is to associate that brand with prestigious events. During the 1990s, Hyundai had a lackluster quality reputation in the US. Although their reliability ratings were higher than some other brands, the perception of American consumers was that the Hyundai family of cars, including KIA, were poor quality vehicles. As part of a strategy to counter this perception, Hyundai began sponsoring prestigious events like PGA golf tournaments and the Australian Open tennis tournament. It worked, now Hyundai is competing directly with Toyota and Honda.
Pro tip: exhibiting your reputation as a quality event is key to landing a sponsor like this. Show that the demographic they’re suffering with (or lagging behind with) is well represented at your event.
Motivation #7. To Block Competition
Your sponsor is preoccupied with its competitors. There are some industries which can be characterized as “hyper-competitive”, like car insurance, soft drinks, beer, and apparel. To these industries, being able to displace a competitor is a major focus and advantage. Brands often will sponsor an event simply to block one of their competitors from doing so.
Pro tip: exclusivity sells with this type of sponsor. They may even be interested in multiple years or multiple events if you can promise exclusivity or making them the “official ____” of your event.
Motivation #8. For Social Responsibility and Corporate Philanthropy
Your sponsor promotes (or wants to create) a caring image. Most brands, even smaller ones, set aside dollars each year to spend on corporate social responsibility. Why do they do this? They have a goal of social responsibility ingrained into their brand message.
Remember brands do not “donate” money when sponsoring events. In fact, you should never refer to it as a donation. A sponsorship decision is often a lengthy and thoughtful process. The decision to invest in your event will only happen when the brand (big or small) believes doing so will help it achieve one or more of the objectives listed above.
Pro tip: If you are approaching a brand that cares about certain issues, emphasize how a sponsorship relationship with your event can help achieve this goal. It also is wise to show how your event is in line with their mission. For instance, if they are “green” - point out what you’re doing to create a sustainable event as well.
Hopefully, by now you have a pretty solid idea of what will be valuable to sponsors, the unique opportunities your event can offer and what you expect to receive in return. With sponsorship programs, you want to create win-win partnerships that deliver value for all those involved.
You have put in the hard work and research and have given some serious thought to what you have to offer sponsors and at what price. The next step is to create your event sponsorship collateral and to reach out to all of the potential leads you have identified and convince them your event is worth their investment.
There are two main things you need to accomplish in an event sponsorship proposal:
- show a return on investment and;
- build the confidence of the sponsors that you can achieve what you are telling them you can.
Today’s marketers are charged with understanding data and analytics and they will ask the tough questions because their CEOs are reading Forbes and Harvard Business Review and they’re being told data is king. If you don’t help them by at least showing a preliminary estimation of the possible return on investment, they won’t present it to their boss. They don’t want marketing to look like a non-revenue generating department.
They want to work with an event organizer that can help them shine. And that means producing a sizeable return on the investment.
The Perfect Personalized Pitch Deck to Impress and Snare your Sponsor
However you are presenting the sponsorship opportunities, you will be most successful if your approach is personalized to the sponsor. The days of one-size fits all are over. But don’t worry, all the information you need is at your fingertips. Do your research on LinkedIn and Google. Read press releases. What is the company targeting and what do they seem most concerned with? What’s going on in their industry? Use this information to create a personalized approach using the data you learned and crafting a sponsorship opportunity that will meet their needs. Make sure you explain this is not your regular “Gold” sponsorship. This is something that was created specifically for them.
This document should be:
- designed well
- visually appealing
- grammatically correct, and
- tailored to the potential sponsor’s priorities and pain points.
It will be used to “shop” your ideas around and while you may be lucky to have received a face-to-face presentation initially, you won’t be there when a decision is made. You need this document to speak for you.
Some of the areas you’ll want to address include:
In order to show them a return on investment, you need to present them with numbers on how many attend, what level of decision maker they are, what’s your main demographic and any other insights that can better help them understand whether their ideal customer is represented in your attendees.
If your potential sponsor’s main competitor has been coming to your event for years, you need to tell the potential sponsor. The presence of their competition suggests that it’s a worthwhile event (companies don’t come if there’s no return). It also helps you play on the potential new sponsor’s fear of missing out.
You’ve explained who will be there, and they’re delighted, but now they need to know how they will reach your attendees. You need to spend a lot of time on this. Many vendors have been burned by sponsorships that don’t get them the attention they expected. Be specific. Walk through the scenarios. Think of potential questions they will have before they bring them up so you’re ready.
The first several things you include in the proposal affect their decision making in the investment. But that data is not beneficial if they glance at it or miss key information. That’s why you should take the time to do at least minimal formatting. Keep in mind they will be scanning the information at this initial stage, so make it easy to read and visually appealing. If you have statistics about your attendees (and we hope you do), create graphics that make them easy to digest. Adding graphics also breaks up the visual monotony of text.
You can include images of the event (or video) but try to keep them as pertinent as possible and not just generic marketing shots. Another fun addition is attendee testimonials in the form of social media posts. If the potential sponsor believes there’s a greater chance of their message being shared on social media, this will add an avenue of additional exposure and presents them to an even wider audience.
Keep this section brief, but stories are often a good introduction. One of the most effective ones you can tell in a sponsorship proposal is how your organization helped another sponsor have their most effective return to date. Set the stage by introducing the challenges they faced and how you helped, but ultimately they did the work.
The reason you take this tack is that it will help them easily envision their own success. It places the head marketer in the hero seat, which is a much more intoxicating thought than merely paying money to your company. You will help them shine, and that is very appealing to most employees.
Less Is More
Less is more in the perfect sponsorship proposal. You need the items and details that will convince them to sponsor your event (or a portion of it) but you needn’t place every detail of the event in what you give them. They don’t have the time to dedicate to reading a complete history of the organization and the event. Instead, provide the details they’ll care about; the ones that will make them money and help them gain exposure. That’s all they need to make a decision.
Need more sponsorship revenue? Try these ideas:
- Tell your event story better. Think of sponsorship as a courtship. Sure looking good on paper is important but so is romance. Putting some effort into telling your event story will help you woo larger sponsors because they’ll see you’re serious about marketing and making good use of best practices.
- Upsell your sponsors. If they like what you’re offering, consider approaching them with additional opportunities that provide even greater exposure.
- Align your mission statement with the potential headline sponsor. This is not something you can do with every sponsor but if you’re looking at a lucrative, top-tier sponsorship deal, consider rewording it to be more in-line with them.
- Show them the technology that will help you/them calculate ROI. Take the time to explain your reporting so they can feel confident in your method.
- Speak their language. Concentrate on providing them things like “cost per impression.”
- Offer to collect additional information from attendees when they register that is super important to your sponsors. They will see you as a partner in their success and will want to invest more heavily in your event.
- Help sponsors target messaging to your audience by providing important data. Encourage them to personalize things and not send out giant email blasts to everyone. Again, this shows an interest in their success, which will make them want to do the same for you.
- Offer bundling options. If someone wants to commit to several similar activities (like three out of four of your sessions), make it worth their while to sponsor all 4. It will be easier to market and highlight their contributions and attendees are less likely to get confused about who’s to thank.
Do you run a recurring event? If so your sponsorship approach will be a little different to a one-time event, or one that runs once or twice a year. Read on for specific strategy for regularly run events.
Recurring events come with their own set of challenges when creating sponsorship packages. If the recurrence is annual or biannual, it’s easy enough but what if those events are monthly or weekly? How do you create sponsorship programs? Do you sell out the entire season as one sponsorship? Or sell them individually on a per event basis? Follow these tips for creating knockout sponsorship programs for your recurring event.
Seek to Establish Partnerships Rather Than Sponsors
Ideally, when it comes to weekly recurring events, you want a sponsor to sign on for the duration of your event season, assuming it’s not an ongoing activity for as long as you can imagine in the future. If that’s the case, you’ll probably need to divide the sponsorship request quarterly or have some other way of designating a set time commitment. But if your event runs for a set number of weeks or a season, looking for sponsors who will become true partners will save you the headache of the administration of switching horses midstream.
Find sponsorship partners through:
- Looking for organizations that are in-line with your event’s mission. Many companies are looking for ways to show their “softer” side and are exploring options on the best way to do this. For instance, if you know of a company that is marketing its children’s scholarship foundation and that fits a key component of your event, propose a partnership.
- Looking at your audience demographics and matching them to organizations that are interested in that group.
- Introducing yourself to the community outreach people at large organizations. Many of them have money to use and are just looking for the right group to do it with. If your event isn’t of an altruistic nature, contact the marketing department with why your event is a good fit for them.
Make It Easy to Say Yes to Sponsorship
You should never treat a potential sponsor with the same familiarity you do a date, and you should never say anything along the lines of, “I don’t care. Whatever you want to do.”
In order for them to become partners, they may need to see certain actions on your end. An event planner who will help them smooth out whatever needs they may have with local government commissions or the city for recurring events would be the type of person they’d enjoy partnering with. While these activities don’t normally fall to event planners, when it comes to recurring events sponsors, these organizations become more like business partners because a commitment to an entire season is much harder to accomplish than a one-time donation.
Look at these sponsors as business partners and you’ll be more successful in landing them. Try to:
- Help them navigate city ordinances or licensing specific to your event. No, it’s not in the job description but they’ll appreciate the effort.
- Create a tailored sponsorship just for them and their needs, as you should with any sponsor. Find out what their needs are or their pain points, or their ideal customer, and create packages that sing to them. You want them to support you for your season, you need to show them this relationship is important to you and you can do that by creating something just for them.
- Introduce them to a long-time sponsor of yours that may be beneficial to their business or help them understand what it’s like to work with you.
Provide Helpful Event Data Throughout the Event Life Cycle
Before signing them, ensure they have the data they need to understand the value of your event in the eyes of their demographic. Ideally, they will sign a contract to be part of your event for the entire season but even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to continue to provide them with this critical data throughout the timeframe that you’re hosting the event. People do business with, and sponsor, those they know, like, and trust. Providing this information in near real-time will help them trust your operation.
Keep communication open by:
- Give them demographic info and data they need to make an informed decision.
- Asking if you can send them event information to keep in mind for next year, week, season, etc.
- Seeing this as an ongoing relationship. If you know your audience demographics line up, keep the lines of communication open. Budgets and business needs change. Stay in communication providing updated data and ROI calculations. Today’s no, could easily be tomorrow’s yes.
Concentrate on Sponsor Visibility To Entice New Sponsors
If you are approaching a business for the first time, a business who has not sponsored something previously or over the long term, it may not have all of the materials it needs. Look for ways in which you might be able to help by calling in business contacts and minimizing the friction involved in them being able to support you and your event.
This can also be true if you’re trying a creative new event sponsorship idea, one that’s out of the box. The proposed sponsor may not have the necessary branding and collateral to make it advantageous for them.
Look for ways you can help them obtain these things at a reasonable price.
- Use your additional business partnerships in the community to call in favors to make it possible and help your potential sponsor. Communities love recurring events because it often means recurring revenue for the area as well.
- Make referrals for mutually beneficial relationships.
- Meet with the marketing team/manager to understand what they need. You want this to be successful for them too.
- Explain to the sponsor what visibility they should expect on the website, printed media, event app and other marketing and communication tools. It might appeal to them if you can provide the physical branding materials, such as stage scrims, for them as part of the agreed sponsorship amount.
Be Honest About Your Recurring Event Audience Profile
Is your recurring event the type that draws a new crowd each week or is it the same old group each time? This will be important to sponsors. Sponsors who sell a product or service that has a long sales cycle may enjoy having the same crowd visit each week because they can begin to build a following and reach out. Sponsors who are looking to create brand recognition may also enjoy the same group.
However, some sponsors will shy away from weekly recurring events because it is the same old group of attendees. These sponsors will often be businesses who do not deal with repeat business. Once they’ve satisfied the need of the consumer, they won’t get their business in the future.
Be honest about your crowd so your sponsors are not under any delusion about attendees. It’s better to have someone bail in the planning stages than mid-way through your sponsorship agreement.
Ideas on how to see your audience from the sponsor perspective:
- Analyze your crowd so you know whether it’s the same folks or a rotating audience.
- Find out as much as possible about them. Are they from out of town or locals?
- Track traffic patterns, flow, attendance numbers, and dates so you can provide as much information as possible. For instance, if your potential sponsor is interested in local attendees and you get more of those during the week, you might consider a weekday sponsorship instead of weekends or something that is tailored to their needs and gives them the greatest potential reach for their ideal demographic.
Study the Event Calendar
When you are approaching sponsors for recurring events and hoping for a seasonal or multi-week commitment, you’ll be well served to check the local event calendar. What else is going on during the time you are hosting your events? Are the sponsors you are approaching involved in any of these other events? Does it preclude them from participating in yours?
If it does, you don’t need to walk away before even approaching them. Instead, come to the meeting with ideas for them on how they could do both, perhaps a sponsorship that didn’t require any manpower or one that required very little. Being prepared for this by doing your homework means you’re more apt to walk away with some sort of sponsorship deal.
Examine and understand:
- Your local event calendar and make note of events that target the same demographic as yours. If they publish them, look at their sponsor list.
- Any participation the sponsor has confirmed at other events, on their website or social media.
- Research the reach of any other events and compare it to yours. What do they offer that you don’t and what do you offer that they are missing? Do you get more local traffic? Do you get more visitors? Analysis can help you see sponsor overlaps and potential.
Go for the Long-term Sponsorship Commitment
Long-term costs will be lower if you can secure sponsorship commitment for the full event duration. If not, try to secure the largest time possible such as a month or six week commitment. The added security is a huge benefit to your event and will save you money in printing, showcasing the sponsors, and other administrative and marketing concerns.
- Advantageous for them to sign on for the amount of time you’re requesting. Give them something they want in return for their commitment.
- Think about exclusivity offers. What can you give them exclusively?
- Consider multi-year discounts. If your event goes through multiple years make it easy for them to say yes to several years. Requiring them to pay the entire sponsorship years in advance does not make it “easy” to say yes, so agree to a realistic payment schedule.
Now that you know what sponsors want, how to make them happy, and how it should be a symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone, here are 50 event sponsorship ideas to get you started:
1. Use Lounges and Charging Stations to Convey Sponsor Messaging
Give your sponsors the option to sponsor a lounge or charging station. This will put their branding and messaging front and center whilst providing a convenient service for attendees.
2. Seize the Sponsorship Opportunities in Travel
There are several travel-related sponsorship opportunities available to events. These include airport pick-ups and transfers, hotel pick-ups and transportation to and from external events.
3. Sponsorship Through Product Donations
Event sponsorship doesn’t always have to be cold, hard cash. If your prospective sponsor has a product that could be donated instead of cash, this can help you save costs whilst giving the sponsor’s product exposure.
4. Partner With Sponsors to Personalize the Attendee Hotel Experience
Work with sponsors to make attendees feel welcome when they get to their hotel room by leaving a helpful welcome package or gift.
5. Sponsored Live Streaming
Live streaming offers events to reach a much wider audience. This opportunity could easily be extended to sponsors with branded feeds.
6. Sell Space on Your Website for Advertising
Add ads and/or banners to your event website. Since real estate is at a premium here, you may need to offer rotating banners to accommodate more sponsors or charge for the exclusivity.
7. Cater for Busy People With Meals to Go
Provide meals or snacks to go in sponsored goodie bags for those attendees who just can’t seem to make it to meal time.
8. Sponsored Wellness
Health and wellness areas and massage bars can be an opportunity to associate brand messaging with a positive, feel-good attendee experience.
9. Use Sponsored Cabanas for a Party Vibe
Cabanas can be a great sponsorship opportunity if your event is held at a resort. These also make great places for meetings and creative sessions.
10. Reach Peckish Attendees Sponsored Snacks
A sponsored snack service is a great way to give attendees instant gratification whilst delivering sponsorship messaging.
11. Increase Sponsor Reach With a Party
After-parties and dance parties can create several sponsorship opportunities. As well as sponsored bars and signage, you could use decor that matches sponsor branding to increase the overall presence. Other sponsorship opportunities at these mini-events could include a sponsored cocktail hour or food and drink tasting.
12. Associate Sponsor Branding With Fun Activities and Games
It’s not all about “work work work” all of the time, where events are concerned. Why not give your attendees something fun to do in their downtime and use that opportunity to convey a sponsor message. Zoltar fortune teller machines and old school arcade machines are ideal for this.
13. Sponsored City Tours
If you’re looking for bleisure (business/leisure) activities to give your attendees a better experience, sponsored city tours can be a nice relaxing and entertaining departure from a brain-taxing event.
14. Highlight Sponsors With Branded Hotel Key Cards
Work with hotels to seek out branding and sponsorship opportunities. Simple things like branded key cards can be an easy way to extend sponsor messaging beyond the event plenary sessions.
15. Golf Tournament Sponsorship Opportunities
If you’re running a golf tournament, invite your prospects to sponsor a hole or maybe a drinks oasis somewhere on the course. You could also consider sponsored golf carts.
16. Professional Headshots for Attendees
Professional headshots are an opportunity to provide a valuable service to attendees in a sponsor-themed environment. Professional images are great for sharing on social media, giving the sponsor an opportunity to reach a larger audience.
17. Create Sponsor-Branded Photo Opportunities for Attendees
Photo booths are great fun for attendees and they can be good for sponsors too. The resulting images are often shared on social media. Branding the photos and the experience could help boost sponsor reach via attendee social media. You could even take it one step further and include branded props. The bigger, the better!
18. Use Brand Dollars to Pay for Star Speakers
Sponsored keynotes are a great way to put your sponsor’s message front and center at your event and the revenue could help to pay for celebrity speakers.
19. Use Branded Badges for Increased Sponsor Presence
Branded badges and lanyards can be a great way to put sponsor branding right in front of your attendees.
20. Consider Apps That Can Be Sponsor-Branded
Many event apps offer an option for sponsor branding. If your event is big enough, the sponsor revenue could pay for the app outright.
21. Partner With Sponsors on Tech
Technology rentals like AV equipment and laptops could be subsidized by sponsors. It’s always worth a shot for any aspect of an event that can pay for itself.
22. Use Sponsor-Branded Printed Materials
Printed materials like leaflets, flyers, signage and stationery can easily carry sponsor branding.
23. Sponsored Exercises and Activities
Team-building exercises and activities are a great opportunity to associate a sponsor with a positive attendee experience.
24. Let Sponsors Bring Playtime to Your Event
Let your sponsors bring some fun and games to your event with mini-sporting-events like kickball tournaments.
25. Official <Insert Industry Here> Sponsor of Your Event
Give your sponsor’s status a boost by making them the official sponsor for their particular industry.
26. Pamper Attendees With Sponsored Care Packages
Sponsored body care packages are a great way to make attendees feel pampered and loved. That’s a great feeling to have associated with a brand.
27. Long Live the Classic Swag Bag
Swag bags are a classic sponsorship opportunity and they’re still one of the greatest too. Alternatively, a virtual swag bag lets sponsors monitor the interest in their deals more scientifically.
28. Water is Essential and Ripe for Sponsorship
Make sure your bottled water is sponsored. Events go through a lot of bottled water so it would be silly not to exploit the opportunity. Having bottles in the hotel room is an additional touch that goes a long way.
29. Make Your Sponsor a Source for Information and Help
Consider a sponsored concierge desk or chatbot to help provide your attendees with useful information.
30. Flowers Are an Easy Sponsorship Opportunity
Flowers can easily be branded with ribbons and tags in sponsor colors. If you can find sponsor-colored flowers, even better!
31. Take Advantage of Branded Rooms or Stages
Make your sponsor literally center stage by branding the stage or room with their name and running videos and images in any downtime between presentations.
32. Engage Attendees With Sponsors Using Interactive Walls
Interactive walls are a great way to get attendees engaged with event content. Use that opportunity to put your sponsor’s message right at your attendees’ fingertips.
33. Convey Sponsor Messaging With VR & AR
Virtual reality and augmented reality are great ways to deliver event content and sponsor messaging in a futuristic way.
34. Give Your Swag a Personal Touch With Sponsor Support
Consider renting a keychain engraving station or custom t-shirt printer. Customized swag that also carries sponsor branding is a great way to get exposure.
35. Bring a Travel Company Onboard as a Partner
A travel company could offer its services to help make bookings easier.
36. Sponsor Memorable Experiences
Entertainment acts such as bands, music and other performers can be sponsored.
37. Provide Sponsored Demonstrations
Sponsored demonstrations are a great way for sponsors to engage with attendees and potential customers on the trade show floor.
38. Sponsored Pick-Me-Ups for Attendees
Consider providing free coffee, sundae or candy buffets for when attendees need that caffeine or sugar hit.
39. Engage Attendees With Sponsored Fun Zones
Play areas or “fun” rooms are a great way to engage attendees whilst giving them a positive experience. This could also be a handy opportunity for your sponsors to engage potential customers with experiential marketing.
40. Provide a Different Viewpoint With a Sponsored Drone
Drones give events an opportunity to provide branded live streamed video content in new and exciting ways.
41. Get Crafty With Your Sponsors
Consider providing a sponsored craft area to help attendees unwind whilst keeping them fully engaged with the event.
42. Get Fit With <Sponsor Name>
Fitness sessions, workout classes and 5ks are becoming popular with attendees, running alongside events. Get sponsors involved with the event fitness movement.
43. Sponsored Calm and Meditation
Provide attendees with an area to meditate and chill out between sessions. These areas can be sponsor-branded to associate the brand with an enjoyable experience.
45. Give Away Branded Apparel to Increase Sponsor Reach
Branded apparel items are always popular. Consider using t-shirt cannons to launch branded apparel into large crowds.
46. Sponsored Transport For Large Floor Areas
If your event covers a large area of floor space, consider using sponsored golf carts or Segways to help attendees get about.
47. Exclusive Benefits for Attendees Provided by Sponsors
To add that extra bit of polish to your attendee’s experience, consider sponsored health club or spa access.
48. Get Sponsor Help With WiFi
WiFi is often a problem for events. If your venue allows it, consider sponsorship in kind from a WiFi service provider. Another option is to use a white label WiFi service that can be sponsor branded.
49. Sponsors Can Help You Give Back
If you’re giving back at your event, your sponsor may want to donate time or resources as part of the community.
50. Get Your Sponsors to Pay For Celebrity Ambassadors
You can also offer a special meet and greet VIP session that they could sponsor.
51. Sponsored Geofilters for Snapchat
Snapchat’s geofilters are an excellent way for sponsors to reach a broader audience through attendees’ social media contacts if you are working with younger attendees that love Snapchat.
52. Get Sponsor Help With Social Media Advertising
Your event’s social media advertising could be a great opportunity for your sponsors to get more exposure.
53. Have Your Sponsors Provide Necessary Relief
Get your sponsors to provide a bit of comfort with VIP toilets. Attendees love this idea, particularly for music festivals and other outdoor events. There is nothing like an extra fancy toilet unit compared to a plastic portaloo.
54. Sponsored Lockers for Attendee Use
Lockers, or a place to stash things safely on the exhibit floor are handy things for attendees carrying a lot of baggage or event swag. They also make a good opportunity for sponsorship.
55. Sponsored Game Prizes
Consider creating game lounges and give away branded prizes.
56. Make Video Interviews and Content Marketing Part of the Sponsorship Package
SXSW writes articles about the innovative things their top sponsors are doing and what visitors can expect to see from them. Don’t forget to promote them on your social media channels.
57. Make Use of Movement Space With Sponsorship
Stair or elevator wraps (placing branding on the risers of the stairs) are an easy way to put a sponsor message in front of attendees in otherwise unusable areas. Of course, this is impossible to measure, but it is a nice to have, as part of a wider package.
58. Put Your Sponsor’s Name in Lights
Electronic signage at the event can be used to convey sponsor messaging in a highly-visual way.
59. Sponsorship Presence at the Airport
Get your sponsor to provide a welcome banner at the airport. The banner could convey information to help your attendees get to the event.
60. Signature Cocktails are a Fun Sponsorship Opportunity
Add a bit of glamor to your event with signature cocktails wearing the name of your sponsors.
61. Centerpieces are Easily Branded
Centerpieces are a classic branding opportunity. Consider extending the theme to your event decor for more impact.
62. Sponsored Backdrops for Shareable Moments
Sponsored photo backdrops are a surefire way to reach a wider audience through attendee social media channels.
63. Don’t Forget About The Floor - One of Your Biggest Sponsorship Opportunities
Don’t forget about the floor… it’s everywhere at your event. Consider using brand logos or messaging on the carpet or flooring.
64. Engage Attendees Directly With Sponsors Through Gamification
QR-code games and scavenger hunts are a great way to engage attendees whilst capturing useful data. Why not also take the opportunity to make some sponsorship revenue.
10 Event Sponsorship Case Studies All Event Planners Can Learn From (best practice to emulate for your events)
We know that event sponsorship raises brand awareness for both the event and sponsors and event planners have been utilizing sponsorship to make bigger events a reality for years. We take a look at some of the most successful event sponsorship examples, identifying partnerships and long standing relationships that brands have had with events for powerful and lasting impact. By learning about magical event partnerships and some of the most long-standing sponsorship agreements, and following the tactics in this post, we hope that some of their good fortunes will rub off onto your own event projects.
1. Mastercard at the Brit Awards
The Brit awards have just ended this year and if you aren’t aware it’s a UK annual event to celebrate British pop music and artists. The sponsors of the event are Mastercard, who are in their 20th year of being the headline sponsors of the awards, showcasing the long-term partnership that has been mutually beneficial for two decades.
This year’s event saw the tagline “Let Music Start Something Priceless” which is a key branding phrase for Mastercard to integrate showing the uniqueness of their sponsorship deal. The signature circles of their logo were also incorporated into the Brit Awards’ branding at the venue, invitations, online presence and on social media. Each year Mastercard use brand activations to create an impact for attendees and 2017 saw a fun installment where they converted a red phone box, a popular British icon, into a “listening booth” that popped up and traveled in the lead up to the event. This allowed the public to listen in to some of the nominee’s music undistracted while being branded and designed specifically for the event.
2. Coca-Cola’s Long-Standing Olympic Partnership
When you consider long-standing partnerships and sponsors, you can’t miss the iconic Coca-Cola and the Olympics relationship. The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics marked the 90th year for this partnership, as Coca-Cola has been sponsoring the games since 1928.
There have been many examples of unique sponsorship opportunities over the years and as the official non-alcoholic beverage of the Olympics their product placement is off the charts, being readily available to staff, attendees and athletes (not much different from their original sponsorship offering 90 years ago). During their first sponsorship at the Olympics in 1928, it took several drinks crates and had official rights to sell them to spectators but aside from a few banners, that was about all. Luckily, event sponsorship has evolved since then.
This year, for example, the “Coca-Cola” branded truck transported prominent athletes including South Korean figure skaters on the torch route, with large branding and their recognizable colors to showcase the torch on its journey to open the games in front of fans, front and center in the action.
They have also been cleverly integrated into the Olympic event app by creating incentives and prizes allowing you to scan the barcode of their products to win. At Rio 2016, they also created an immersive teen lounge in the heart of Rio to appeal to the younger demographic while encouraging them to get involved in the spirit of the Olympics. With each event, Coca-Cola creates new and interesting ways to use their sponsorship opportunity to their advantage, whether it’s the mini events and pop-ups they create or the original recorded song they created. Plus, as they’ve signed an extended sponsorship agreement, they will continue to be supporting the games until at least 2020.
3. Bell Canada at The Toronto International Film Festival
An excellent example of how sponsorships can be lasting, even when the event is over. Bell Canada has been the lead sponsor for TIFF since 1995. This lengthy relationship goes hand in hand and as an online media company, they have a variety of platforms and channels they utilize for marketing, especially in the runup to this annual event.
Bell take branding and signage to the next level with Bell Lightbox, which is the venue and now the permanent home to TIFF. The first 5 floors become the epicenter of the event each year. The building hosts a Blue Room Member’s Lounge which creates an exclusive area during the annual film festival and Bell have offered experiences each year.
2012 was particularly notable as Bell held a cinematic art exhibition with live street artists that also allowed them to integrate their products alongside the festival. Large touchscreens that responded to gestures had access to films and information being screened, specifically focusing on classical Canadian features and giving attendees the opportunity to focus on their favorites in more depth.
4. GoPro and Red Bull Extreme Events Partnership
This sponsor partnership blurs the lines between who is actually sponsoring whom because they work so interdependently. Red Bull has been venturing into its lifestyle brand by hosting music and sporting events and as they focus on showcasing extreme sports and stunts, GoPro aim to capture them in detailed ways, having just solidified a sponsored partner deal.
Both brand websites promote each other with both companies retaining footage rights so that they can share it with a demographic that are eerily similar and branding remains consistent throughout as they both share the spotlight. So far, over 1,800 of Red Bull (or Sponsored Red Bull) events have used GoPro cameras to capture the best footage to showcase.
A great example of this is the Red Bull Stratos jump that saw Felix Baumgartner break records (as well as the speed of sound) by parachuting out of a floating helium balloon! Donned entirely in Red Bull branded apparel in his suit, watched by 8 million viewers, he had 5 GoPro cameras strapped to him to capture footage of the descent and history in the making.
This is next level sponsorship and a beautiful partnership that is breaking barriers by successfully coexisting in the same event niche, bringing extreme sporting events greater coverage and powerful sponsorship opportunities for both sides.
5. Sunglass Hut’s Three Year Deal For London Fashion Week
As a fashion accessory provider, it makes sense that Sunglass Hut would be involved in LFW. Having signed a 3-year sponsorship deal to become the principal sponsor, the opportunities have been phenomenal and they have definitely utilized them, opting for different themes and ideas each year.
During the event, the primary focus is on brand activation, often using influencers to drive sales and increase awareness of their product during this lengthy, high profile event. They, of course, use the traditional methods such as sponsored step and repeats at the designer entrances to ensure paparazzi photos capture their name alongside the high-profile guests. But they also offer other options, like in 2015 when they set up a photo booth to encourage customers to capture themselves trying on their products, promoting the event hashtag #driveintofashion.
At each event, models are provided with swag to promote if they choose and just being seen with their label can boost ROI for these complimentary products which see customers wanting what is being showcased by runway models. In 2016, Sunglass Hut also created a pop-up shop in the center of fashion week in Brewer Street to engage directly with their demographic, answer questions and promote new ranges. They also specifically host competitions in these locations to drive hype and involve the winner by having a premium experience and tickets to the designer show, a swag bag and in previous cases a one-on-one with prominent fashion figures like Lola Chatterton.
These aren’t the only brands making a name for themselves using event sponsorship, here are 5 more to watch out for:
6. Combining Tech and Music, HP at Coachella
It’s a strange combination, but HP had one of the largest sponsorship presences at Coachella last year that went over well with attendees. It decided to use the popular music festival to showcase its new range of laptops, which are focused on an artistic demographic. Their tent lured attendees with air-conditioning and promises of creativity but had interactive activities that allowed you to use the new products to design and print a free bandana to take home. This innovative activity stands out, in a good way, in this environment and also offered a memento to raise awareness throughout the event.
That’s not all, as the official technological sponsors of the event, HP, and Obscura Digital combined to create a large projection dome, similar to a planetarium, to create a comfortable art installation showcasing a digital show for wow factor. This interactive experience was specifically designed so HP could target their favored younger demographic
7. Mercedes-Benz at the Masters Tournament
Big tournaments like the Masters need bigger sponsorship, and when you’re looking at $6million+ commitment, it better be worth it. Having started its partnership in 2008, Mercedes-Benz took the leap to become a global sponsor in 2014, after seeing great results. Not only do players (who are televised) wear the branding and logos on their apparel while playing, Mercedes also provide transportation at the event as well targeting a demographic of attendees that can afford their products. While TV advertising is limited (4 minutes shared across sponsors) the exclusivity afforded in this tournament boosts the awareness as The Masters only allows 5 sponsorship slots.
8. Ten-X Launch at SXSW Interactive
As major sponsors of SXSW in 2016, Ten-X brought it all to the event to provide as many offerings as they could to this popular event. The key elements that they used included a hologram booth that allowed you to create yourself into a hologram and then take virtual real estate tours of properties.
They also had an outdoor selfie station and DJ booth which enticed attendees to come and speak to a member of their team to discuss their offerings as well as a networking “living room” complete with charging stations. If that wasn’t enough they used their expertise to appeal to guests by not only having a sponsored panel but also a career booth where attendees could come and talk to professionals in the real estate industry.
9. Delta Airlines Takes on Pride
Pride events are supportive of the LGBTQ community and held as a show of solidarity, so when Delta Airlines became an official sponsor they networked a variety of events throughout the US all at once. From the Boston Pride Festival to the NYC Heritage of Pride, their sponsorship had expanding reach due to the network of these events. It highlighted its own inclusion within its organization and culture of equality to improve customer relationships. It used sponsorship opportunities by encouraging branded staff to be part of the parades, start their own local initiatives to support their communities and fly flags, have branded apparel and large red signage balloons at the event themselves.
10. Nike’s Basketball Ambassadors
Using strategic partnerships, Nike has secured an 11-year sponsorship deal with FIBA, the world body for basketball for both men and women. This allows them not only apparel branding, courtside branding and advertising but also a selection of top players to involve as ambassadors and influencers for the brand. It allows them to be a part of the world cup basketball events, as well as the qualifiers and shows a long-standing commitment to male and female sport.
Successful event sponsorship packages contain something for everyone, you, your attendees, and your sponsors. They enhance the attendee experience and bring them value, while it allows you to do more with less. Your sponsors will have their specific needs met as well as the best packages take into account their business goals and key performance indicators.
For the most lucrative packages for all stakeholders, you want to create something enticing that suits everyone’s needs. This is not a time to offer the same thing to everyone. Instead, get to know your potential sponsors and look for ways to partner with them in order to make both of your dreams come true.
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