When you plan to host an event, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how you are going to fund it. If you think your event is too small or too big to seek sponsorships, you are right.
Unless you are very buoyant financially, you are going to have to look elsewhere to get your event financed.
Seeking for sponsorship for your event is a good idea. But can be frustrating at times, especially when trailed with more unanswered proposals or turned down requests.
Getting sponsors is easier said than done. How do you make your proposal stand out from the pile of other similar sponsoring requests?
1. Build a Professional Brand Image for Your Event
Think about how you evaluate a company or brand you want to do business with. Often, the first thing you do is to go to their website, social media pages or download their brochures to learn more about them and see if they are legitimate.
The same goes for how sponsors first evaluate you. They are going to look you up online, visit your site and browse the web for mentions to see if you are legit.
Before seeking sponsorship from companies, answer the question of “What kind of impression do my brand make?” Is your logo, design look and event materials professional enough?
Remember that by sponsoring your event, they are aligning their brand image with yours, and if your brand does not reflect a professional image, they will probably take their sponsorship deals to an event that has the polish and cache they seek.
2. Study Your Sponsors
Do your homework on each sponsor you reach out to. Look for companies within your niche that is not a direct competitor. Otherwise, there will be a conflict of interest.
For example, if your company sells dietary supplements, then a company that sells exercise equipment would be a potential sponsor to get in touch with.
Study any current events or transitions the sponsors may be going through. Timing is also very important because most companies only do event sponsoring at certain times of the year.
Are they in the midst of releasing a new product, merging with another company or hosting an event of its own? Take advantage of these moments by incorporating it in some form into your event.
If the sponsor is about to release a new product, then it goes without saying they are going to want to market the hell out of it.
Reach out to the sponsor and let them know that your event is a great opportunity for them to showcase their new product and acquire a new audience base.
3. Identify Your Assets to Your Sponsor.
Sponsorship is a give-and-take relationship. Sponsors are ultimately businesses and not philanthropic organizations.
They want something in return for funding your event. What can you offer to the sponsor that is tied directly to their campaign strategy? What do the sponsors get out of funding your event?
It is not compulsory that they must share in your passion or vision before they can sponsor your event. No! They just need to see what is in it for them.
Sponsors leverage their sponsorship as a marketing strategy. Clearly, they want something out of it; otherwise they would not be sponsoring anyone and spending thousands of dollars.
At the end of the day, an event sponsor is ultimately looking to connect with their target audience – whether to primarily boost sales or improve their brand recognition. You can mention the sponsor’s company in passing in your blog posts or email newsletter.
Provide incentives, such as freebies or discounts for customers that purchase the sponsor’s product or sign up for its service. Include the sponsor’s logo in all your promotional gears.
Encourage your social media followers to “like” or share the sponsor’s content. Don’t just let the prospect guess at what they could offer.
You can also ask your sponsors what they actually need from your event. Sometimes, an organization does not have something specific in mind, so it is best if you suggest a few ways to become a sponsor and state that you are open to suggestions.
4. Make Your Proposal Stand Out
Your proposal has to stand out in one way or another. Craft a Unique Selling Proposition. Keep in mind, after all, that the company likely reviews proposals like yours on a daily basis.
Why should the company sponsor your event over others? Few tips here for you. Tell your company story. Did you have humble beginnings? Make an emotional connection if you can, to strike a chord with the sponsoring company.
Describe what you do. What is your mission statement and how does your company live up to it on a daily basis? Describe your demographic audience.
Be specific about the estimated funding amount needed. Be concise and specific in your request. State exactly what it is you want from them.
This includes a breakdown of what portion of funding is needed for what area, such as venue rental, food, honorarium and so on.
Be concise in Your Approach. Don’t beat around the bush about your identity and what you are requesting from them. Be direct, concise and provide them with the necessary information.
If you are seeking a monetary donation, specify that right away. If you are looking for a product or in-kind donation, let them know which product would best suit your needs.
5. Be Data-Conscious in Your Proposal
Companies that sponsor events like to know exactly how their investment will pay off, and the more information you can provide about the type of people, their industry and their influence.
Sponsors see your event as a form of advertising for their own company. As such, they want to see numbers that predict a successful event.
Your proposal should include some strong data visuals that outline anticipated attendance, attendance numbers of past events, social media engagement and so on.
Hence, you need pitch prospects information and data that hits their sweet spot. With this, more likely sponsors will agree to your terms.
6. Propose Different Package Levels
Your proposal should not just include a desired monetary sum. Provide sponsors with multiple tiers of sponsorship options and what you will do in return at each tier.
A tiered sponsor package should include a list of the options and what you will provide in return.
7. Make It About the Sponsor
Your company is the one seeking event funding; therefore, the ball is in the sponsor’s court. Aside from proposing multiple sponsor options, you can also just be direct and ask the sponsor what it wants in return.
This way, you can customize a package suitable for the sponsor’s specific needs. Does the sponsor want your own brand advocates to cross promote its products?
Does it want to set up its own booth or workshop at your event? Know what the sponsor wants and do your best to fulfill the request.
At the same time, however, do not be afraid be negotiate so that what you get out of it is fair you.
8. Make First Contact Via Email and Social Media (Not Phone Calls)
You would think calling potential sponsors would be a more personal and effective method of introducing yourself to them, but many sponsors prefer the first contact be online so they can vet before talking to you.
Social media is a good way for you to find more about your potential sponsors and for them to find out more about you through the content you post.
In addition, many event organizers also first reach out to potential sponsors via social media.
Again, it is a more casual and less intrusive approach that allows the organization to do some initial diligence on you.
9. Put square pegs in square holes
Go to stakeholders in the industry who are not your direct competitors. For example, House of Tara will most likely sponsor a fashion event than a food event.
Guinness will most likely sponsor a sport event than a medical event. Indomie will most likely sponsor a children event than a tech event.
10. Follow up
After preparing and sending out your proposal, what next? Follow up. If they promise to get back to you, but they have not, reach out to them.
Find out if they have further enquiry and make yourself accessible.
11. Start Planning on time
Some sponsorships may take too long before coming through successfully, especially if you are seeking sponsorships from big brands.
You must know that they have several sponsorship proposals already on their tables.
12. Do not ask for cookies
When you go to big brands for sponsorships, ask for something tangible in your proposal. Do not make small request from big brands.
Do not ask for ₦200,000 from a company that can give you ₦2 million
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by relying solely on a single sponsor. Seek for multiple sponsors. Nevertheless, it is better to get one or two major sponsorships than to get many smaller sponsorships.