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The Art of Courting Sponsors

Courtship – a ritual that’s been going on since the beginning of time and key to the continued survival of humanity.  Don’t worry, we’re not going to go down the path of what may have been an awkward health or biology class in high school, but there’s some steps that are typically associated with being part of the ‘dating game’ that have parallels with attracting sponsorship for your event, so that it can continue for years to come.  Seriously, just hear me out and consider the following items below:  

Eligibility – Most large corporations are constantly approached with requests for sponsorship, so do your homework first to find out the appropriate time of year to make your approach, as well as any forms of written submissions for sponsorship you’ll need to make in order to be considered.  Remember too that these organizations will typically have an annual sponsorship budget, so don’t wait too long and find yourself late to the party.

Shared Goals – What is it about your event that sets it apart from others who might be vying for sponsorship?  What are the overall vision and values for your event?  You may encounter a number of organizations with initial interest in sponsoring your event, but all is not said and done unless they buy into your event’s vision and values.  This includes knowing both yours and their key markets.  If they’re too divergent, then it’s less likely they’ll be on board, unless they’re chasing a new demographic which your event can provide easy access to.

Package Deal – Following on from the point above, you can’t lose sight of the significance of their investment in your event, so you need to be able to provide return on it through a sponsorship package. Do the numbers and see what sort of CPI (Cost Per Impression) you can offer based on the number of attendees you anticipate (see Data, Data Everywhere).  Other selling points can include ads in the registration system, badges, apps and exhibitor map, providing them an increased social media presence and generation of additional customer leads.  Be ready to discuss money – even if they’re not prepared to come on board as a major sponsor, there still may be ways they’ll want to contribute to your event.

Data, Data Everywhere – Of course, your promises can’t be empty ones.  You need historic event data to back your claims up, otherwise you won’t be forging longer-term relationships with your sponsors and may scare away other potential sponsors if you or your event develops a reputation.  Remember too that testimonials from other previous sponsors will go a long way in securing new sponsorship opportunities.

Get Intimate and Emotional – At the end of the day, after going through the more formalized steps of courting sponsorship, ultimately the decision of whether to provide it rests in the hands of one of a few key individuals.  Get to know them.  Ask colleagues to connect you with key decision makers and be prepared to dazzle them and differentiate yourself from the rest of the sponsorship seeking pack through a concise pitch that resonates.  

Now, the next time you’re approaching a potential sponsor, think of the points raised here, take a look at yourself in the mirror, three deep breaths and say to yourself, ‘I’ve got this!’  

Wishing you a long and fruitful relationship with your event sponsors.