7 Tactics To Make Your Event Sponsors Re-sign for Next Year
It’s always easier to get sponsors to agree to something in person. Ideally, none of them would leave your event without signing up to sponsor the next one. But how do you make that into a reality? Here are a few suggestions.
Your event just ended. No one has even left the building yet but there’s one more thing to be done – convince this year’s sponsors to re-sign-up for next year. But how do you do it without sounding desperate or over-eager? You start early and you follow this list of ideas:
1. Start Early
As mentioned above, starting early is crucial to getting your sign-offs while still at the event. If your event is a multi-day event, begin compiling data on attendee reaction and ROI for that sponsor before attendees are even on site. Chart social media mentions of your sponsor and any other interaction ahead of the event and continue it throughout the entire time at your event.
You’ll also want to continue it beyond your live event to listen for mentions afterward. Even though your goal is next year’s sign-up before they leave your event, keeping track of ROI after the event will give you a reason to contact them after the traditional thank you note.
Starting early and getting a signature before they walk out the door also means understanding who’s the final sign-off. The marketing person standing in front of you may not even be the CMO. Pitching them on the value of signing ahead of time is wasted breath. As Gerri Fraser, a Promotional Programs Specialist at Stantec, shared in a recent discussion in the Event Planning & Event Management Group on LinkedIn, “Speaking from a corporate point of view, there are often several approvals that go on behind the scenes…Your onsite contact may not be the right person to sign on the dotted line… contracts for certain companies require risk assessment or conflict of interest reviews by legal prior to signing (even renewal contracts). They may also need to go through a formal review to evaluate the value received from that sponsorship before considering doing it again.”
Ms. Fraser advises that it’s important to know your customer/sponsor and whether that level of sign-off is required before making a decision. If it is, send out the renewal contract prior to the event. If you have early ROI components, such as social media mentions, add those to the cover letter. But know that if it’s an event they’re new to participating in don’t be surprised if they want to wait to see what the return on investment yields.
2. Offer Multi-Year Contracts
Try to get sponsors to sign for two years. That gives you extra time to show ROI before they’re renewing. They’ll get used to your reporting and see the value you give to sponsors. One way to get them to sign a multi-year or renew at your event is through the next idea.
3. Discount Your Early-bird Sponsors
If someone’s willing to give you sponsorship money before they leave your event, they deserve an incentive. This incentive could be a discount or prime choice of spots next year or any other much in demand bonus.
4. Show ROI
A sponsor is going to calculate their own ROI, but an event planner that can help them do that by pointing out personalized calculations of what they’ve received as part of their sponsorship makes a big impression. Track social media mentions and images shared of their business. Listen for write-ups and free press for their participation. Track cost savings and traffic your event has created. After you do all this present it to them in a visually appealing way. If you’re able to share this information with them, your sponsors will feel like you are a true partner in their success, something that is invaluable to most businesses. Speaking of value…
5. Provide Value
The definition of value is in the eye of the check signer. Software technology vendors will tell you, you needn’t sell someone on your entire list of features. If they’re looking for a solution to a very significant problem or difficulty and your software can fix it easily and from a cost-effective approach, they’ll buy your solution. The bells and whistles rarely matter (unless you’re just using them to mask an inferior product.)
The same is true of your sponsors. If you can give them access to a particular niche that others can’t or you give them more exposure for the money, they’ll likely sign again. Your biggest challenge is understanding their biggest challenge and figuring out what they find valuable.
6. Give Them Some Bang
Some sponsors will be happy with the same old same old, but since most sponsors are part of your event for branding reasons and exposure, giving them an innovative way to sponsor – one your attendees will notice and love – may make them sign on the spot. Christopher Dunn from Great Productions, Inc. suggests, “Any idea that makes them feel appreciated and spoiled gives them reason to sign again.”
What you don’t want to do is tell them “We can do anything.” While this sounds like it’s very open and flexible, it places the hard work on their end to come up with something innovative for your audience. You are the person who knows your audience best. Instead, make a suggestion such as, “We were thinking about doing some projection mapping next year. We could do some amazing things with the technology and your branding. I know your company is innovation-focused and we could provide a cutting-edge platform to showcase that for you and get you a lot of interest.” This type of suggestion shows you’ve done your homework and know what the sponsor likes.
7. Be Flexible on the Money
Most companies operate on budgets and their fiscal year may start in January, April, or any other month. Even if they’re able to sign that day that doesn’t mean you’ll get a check made out to you at the event. Their accountant or finance staff may have them budgeted quarterly. If that’s the case, you may be waiting a while for anything other than a down payment or a hold fee. Again, knowing how your sponsor’s business operates will help you build and solidify those relationships.
While you’re more likely to be successful in signing a sponsor for your next event before they leave your current one, that’s not always possible. Understanding your sponsor’s sign-off process and what they need/want from your event will increase the likelihood of them signing again, whether that’s on-site at your event or a few weeks later.
Additional Resources on Event Sponsorships and Sponsor Relations
The Future of Event Sponsorship
Event Sponsorship Is Broken. 10 Tips to Fix It. [Webinar]
23 Sponsorship Ideas for Trade Shows
The Future of Event Sponsorships (Report)
53% of Eventprofs Struggle to Find Sponsors (Report)
12 Ways to Use AV and Technology to Drive Event Sponsorships
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